12 Skills Entrepreneurs Should Improve in 2012
In case you haven’t noticed, 2012 is well underway. For many, New Year’s resolutions have come and gone. Many people have relegated themselves to another year of mediocrity.
But not you!
You’re taking action. You’re getting things done. You’re honing your skills. You’re gonna make 2012 your best year! Right?
“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” – Abraham Lincoln
What’s Your Learning Plan?
It’s one thing to say that you’re going to make 2012 your best year ever, but it’s another to spend the time required to put a plan of action together. Growth isn’t easy; it involves some pain and discomfort, but in the end the rewards are worth far more than the cost.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to rely on “luck” or happenstance for my success. This year I’m going to be very deliberate about sharpening my skills. Last December I spent time identifying my strengths and weaknesses, and then I developed a learning plan for the upcoming year.
You may already have a learning or growth plan in place for yourself and your business, but if not, you’re welcome to come along with me for the journey. I’ve identified 12 core skills that I’m going to work on during 2012 – and what do you know, there just happen to be 12 months in 2012. If my math is correct, that works out to honing one skill per month, making this learning plan very doable, regardless of how hectic your schedule.
Skills to Improve in 2012
This skill ties into the management aspects of your business and provides a standard against which to measure your progress. Without visioning, you lack a sense of specific purpose, and it becomes difficult to create definite action steps. Visioning can, if implemented, completely revolutionize your business (and life).
As a self-employer, you don’t have a boss telling you what to work on, when to be in the office, and how much time you should be dedicating to each task. As such, you’d better be sure you know how to manage yourself efficiently. Time management is a key skill to continue to develop for any successful business person, whether or not they are self-employed.
Copywriting is an important element of sales and marketing, specifically the skills involved in wording your message in a way that compels your audience to take action of some sort. It is the art of using words and ideas to promote a specific product or idea in such a way that your audience is moved to take the desired action. As an entrepreneur you are more than likely going to be “selling” a product, service, idea, or even yourself on a regular basis. While you can hope that the product speaks for itself adequately, and that the whole world would fall as much in love with it as you are, you will probably get better results if you are able to effectively sell it to them through the power of words.
It is probably the foundation of your work. Selling a product or service in return for some measure of profitable exchange is the basis of entrepreneurship, and the margin of profit is often the most tangible measure of success for any business person. Sales are the manifestation of a company’s output, and you are (or should be) selling yourself, your product, or your service every day to potential buyers. By honing your sales skills this year, you may find yourself even more successful in 2012.
While Sales and Marketing often go hand-in-hand, they are in fact different means of reaching the same goal. While sales skills target individual customers who you hope will buy into your product, marketing involves attracting more potential customers so that you can then sell them on it. Any successful entrepreneur will look for new and inventive ways to market their product. For example, if you can catch a potential client’s eye as they walk past your (virtual or literal) storefront, you have successfully facilitated an opportunity to present your sales pitch to them, thus increasing the chance that you will be able to interest them into buying your product, idea, or service. Alternatively, humans gravitate towards the familiar, so if a potential client has already heard of you or your product, their mind is immediately going to be more receptive to what you have to tell them about it than someone hearing about it for the first time.
Today’s society has grown very familiar with the idea of customer service and it has become the expectation and rule rather than the sign of an exceptional business. Customers expect you to bend over backwards to make your product or service fit their wants or needs, and providing great customer service can make the difference between getting customers to return and refer you to friends, family, and coworkers, or them forgetting your company.
As an entrepreneur, you must be able to inspire confidence in potential investors or clients that your ideas or product are valuable, and that you have the means and ability to execute your business plan. Leading partners, employees, and clients successfully through your vision and services will determine the growth of your business.
Your ability to plan, direct, monitor, organize, and control the financial aspect of your business can be used to coordinate and achieve your financial goals. In managing your finances, you can keep track of how your business is operating and monitor your monetary successes and failures over time.
What sets your services or product apart from what is already on the market? How do your clients identify with your company specifically? Your brand is the specific image that people think of when they think of you, or your product. Establishing a “personality” for your business will help clients identify with you and seek out your services above someone else who may offer something similar.
Your creative thinking skills are useful in most of the other skills listed here. How you market, brand, and sell your product must be shaped by some creative vision that distinguishes your product or service as specifically your own. This is your opportunity to make your own rules and build your own enterprise.
This is the process of deciding how to price your product or service in the most profitable way. Pricing a product too high could mean losing customers, pricing it too low could mean a loss of profit. The way you price your product or services affects how people see its value, and developing an effective price strategy is an important tool in maximizing your profit.
As an entrepreneur, you simply cannot work inside your own bubble. Each part of the entrepreneurial process is about getting your message out there and successfully convincing someone else that they should heed your call to action. So honing your skills in sharing that message is a must.
An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin
Are you going to invest your time and resources in 2012 to gaining more knowledge? If so, I challenge you to tag along in the learning adventure with me. Each month during 2012 I will blog about the skill that I’m working on, and provide you with resources and tools to help you do the same.
If so, enter your name and email address in the boxes below, and each month I’ll send you tips, strategies, and exclusive interviews with experts on the topic of the month.
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