I’m not sure where to get started.
In recent years, it seems like entrepreneurship has become a lot more popular - what are some tips to explore the opportunities in this space?
Entrepreneurship has a wide variety of definitions but I assume you mean starting companies or not-for-profit organizations.
In general, I think there are some personality traits of successful entrepeneurs as well as technical skills I would recommend developing.
Regarding personality, it is useful for young entrepreneurs to be:
- Clear Communicators - Having a vision and articulating a vision are two different things. You need to be able to explain to me how you are thinking and understand and listen to their perspectives.
- Self-Confident - Being an entrepreneur almost by definition involves doing something no one else is doing which naturally draws uncertainty. In an environment with a lot of group-think and herd mentality, it is important you can stand independent and sufficiently confident in your idea and talent that you can turn the skeptics into supporters.
- Nimble and Efficient Decision-Makers - As an entrepreneur, you need to make a lot of decisions and usually relatively quickly. In many situations, the path forward is not crystal clear and you need to be able to deal with the ambiguity and make a call. This can definitely be learnt, but is also a typical personality trait of successful sports people who have to deal under pressure with changing scenarios.
- Competitive - starting any kind of venture inevitably has or draws competition. Having a competitive intensity which motivates you to always be the best you can be is very important to getting on top.
- Interpersonal and Empathetic - you will always need to work with people, even if your idea is a technology product so being able to comfortably get on with people, understand their needs and motivations and help find win-wins in everything you do is very necessary. If you’re a shy person, put yourself in team-based environments regularly and work on it.
While there are no hard and fast requirements regarding technical skills, if you are setting out to be an entrepreneur in today’s age, I recommend considering the following:
- Computer Science - while certainly not required and most entrepreneurs do not have this skill, many of the future’s great businesses will inevitably heavily leverage technology. A solid understanding of computer science will let you build minimum viable products (MVPs) but more importantly be able to liaise effectively with developers and not be speaking an entirely foreign language.
- Accounting - although you can always hire accountants, it always pays to know what an income statement, cashflow statement and balance sheet are and be literate in both accounting. This is something that can definitely be picked up along the way but its another area that you need to have some understanding and basic competency in so you can work effectively with internal and external accountants.
- Finance - the basic dynamics of raising capital, using capital and understanding how to efficiently deploy resources is particularly relevant if you get to a successful scale. While some businesses don’t need to raise external funding, many start-ups, particularly tech start-ups, tend to have pretty heavy costs upfront so understanding a basic finance tool kit will assist in navigating these challenges without blowing up your operation.
The last note is it pays to be an avid reader. The world is constantly changing and you need to keep up with innovations. While the internet provides plenty of great material, many useful insights are still best obtained from well-crafted books. I recommend “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg, “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel and “The Medici Effect” by Frans Johansson as a starting block.
Feel free to follow up!