13 Skills All New Entrepreneurs Should Pick Up

What is one skill you’ve acquired since starting your business that all new entrepreneurs should learn?

Entrepreneur learning hard

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Setting Boundaries

When I started about seven years ago, I let other people dictate how I spent my time. Over time, I learned that others will treat my time with respect if I do and that if I set boundaries around when and where I’m available, nine times out of 10, others will understand. In turn, I was able to be significantly more productive and efficient. I also learned that “no” was an acceptable answer. – Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40

2. Instilling Work Ethics

A lot of the mythology out there about entrepreneurship that makes it sound super sexy (and don’t get me wrong, some of it is), but the reality for most is that entrepreneurship will force you to place value differently in your life. You are going to have to work harder than everyone else and that’s going to require you to give up other things for now. – Chris Cancialosi, gothamCulture

3. Having the Ability to Sell

Initially, I incorrectly assumed that sales could be delegated to certain team members. Every part of the startup process involves selling, whether to customers, supply chain partners or investors. As you build your brand, customers are buying into the individuals associated with the startup in addition to the product or service: This becomes much easier when you are proficient in sales. – Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports, LLC

4. Adaptability

When you launch a business, you’re encouraged to have a specific plan of action. But the business world evolves rapidly and circumstances change. What works today might not work as well tomorrow, and if you want to remain marketable and competitive, you need to be flexible with your offerings and willing to learn new ways of doing things. – Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

5. Having Empathy

The practice of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and being emotionally tuned into people’s hopes, fears and egos allows you to play at the highest levels as a leader and a business person. – Christopher Kelly, Convene

6. Realizing You Don’t Always Have the Best Answer

Particularly when you come from an engineering background like me, there can be a tendency to be vehemently committed to selling your own ideas. As an entrepreneur, I’ve been blessed to surround myself with smart people. I have to internalize that I don’t always have the best answer in the room. Focusing on the outcome often yields a better plan than the one I had previously conceptualized. – Dan Pickett, Launch Academy

7. Confronting Issues

Growing up, my family would skirt around issues with smiles, but we were generally filled with angst, wanting a solution. In business, I learned it is better to hash out uncomfortable conversations as soon as possible and choose a path to move forward that is acceptable to both parties. Employees and clients appreciate the direct communication. – Marjorie Adams, Fourlane

Having serious business conversation
photo credit: Daniel Schildt / Flickr

8. Having Hard Conversations

Time and again, I’ve learned how to have a difficult conversation. Whether it’s with an employee who’s underperforming, a client who is taking advantage of us, or a vendor whose product isn’t up to standard, being able to deliver bad news ethically, clearly and confidently can help any leader in the toughest of situations. – Sam Davidson, Batch

9. Delegating

As you grow, you need to learn to let go. You can only do so much in a day, so it’s a vital skill to know what you should delegate to others and what you should focus on. – Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital

10. Prioritizing

It’s very important for entrepreneurs to learn how to better prioritize their time and energy. An important skill to develop is to remind yourself of your top priorities on a daily or weekly basis and learn how to dismiss projects or initiatives that are not high-priority. – Douglas Baldasare, ChargeItSpot

11. Managing Time Properly

Time management has changed since becoming an entrepreneur. I have to manage it more carefully or work creeps into the rest of my life. Plus, I get sidetracked or involved in too much, so it’s taught me to be better with my time. It would have been good if I had that skill when I started. – Cynthia Johnson, American Addiction Centers

12. Maintaining Organizational Hygienes

Organizational hygienes are disciplines that help businesses stay on track and healthy. They consist of activities like reporting, standing meetings, board meetings, employee onboarding, curation of team culture, strategic planning, and other disciplines that if not done consistently lead to poor performance and even failure. It isn’t enough to close deals and fulfill orders to be successful. – Eric Mathews, Start Co.

13. Compartmentalizing

As a serial entrepreneur, mother of five, writer, graduate student, nonprofit volunteer and yoga teacher, I had a very hard time finding balance. Since the founding my company, I have learned to compartmentalize each area of my life. Wherever I am, I am fully present in that space and moment. – Jennifer Mellon, Trustify