There are a specific set of traits that many successful entrepreneurs have in common. One thing that often gets lost in the conversation is the focus on people skills. It’s usually glossed over, while other personality traits are emphasized, like having a strong work ethic and being passionate. It’s important to remember that while entrepreneurship does take hard work and knowledge, a business is always an agglomeration of people. Knowing how to deal with people is as such instrumental in becoming a successful entrepreneur. Let’s break down some specific people skills that are necessary in daily operation of any business venture.
1. The ability to empathize with others.
If you’ve noticed, empathy is a word that’s been all over the news. That’s because experts in all sorts of different fields have come to acknowledge that empathy—the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes—is much more important to a cohesive social community than we ever thought before. In business, empathy is especially important because it enables you to anticipate the needs and feelings of both your employees, who are your strongest allies in achieving success, and empathy also enables you to anticipate the needs of your customer base, without which your business would not even exist.
2. The ability to persuade others.
The art of persuasion is at the heart of any successful business. Not only will you have to convince your client base that your product or service is a worthwhile purchase, but you’ll also have to persuade investors to put their own money and hopes on the line in order to get your idea off the ground. You’ll have to persuade your employees that your business will be successful in the end even if times are bleak now. Even if you see the light at the end of the tunnel, they might not, and persuasion is what it takes to get them there.
3. The ability to inspire others to do their best.
Closely related to persuasion, inspiration is a step above it. When you persuade someone, all you are doing is convincing them to share your beliefs and ideals. Inspiration, however, means that you are persuading a group of people not just to align their beliefs with yours, but you’re also persuading them to take action based on these beliefs. Inspiration often has a domino effect, so if you can inspire the people you work with, they will in turn inspire others, which trickles down to everyone associated with your business.
Of course, developing these critical people skills, especially if they don’t come naturally to you, is no easy task. The first step, however, is recognizing that “people skills” encompass a whole slew of very specific skills that seek to master different emotions. One of my favorite books that really digs deep into people skills as they relate to business and life is the classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Good luck!