The first four skill sets should represent 80-90% of where an entrepreneur needs to invest his time in building his business, especially in the startup phase. Many new entrepreneurs make the nasty habit of focusing on things such as getting office space, office equipment, stationary and even develop the ultimate business plan. Instead, the entrepreneur needs to focus on one thing: creating and keeping a customer. Customers represent sales. Nothing happens until a sale is made. Before that, nothing happens until marketing starts. My business mentor always stressed to me that the entrepreneur must create a customer before creating a product or service.
Product development comes after a market demand is created or met. As a former partner in a publishing company, I worked with authors who wrote the book before starting a marketing campaign. I began to search for what made authors successful with moving units. All successful authors create a campaign as they write the book. In other words, they create a demand by developing a platform. It can be through blogging, social media, interviews or other marketing tools to create a buzz.
Networking is essential to an entrepreneur’s success. The successful ones create alliances to build and maintain power. No successful entrepreneur can operate with an emperor’s mentality. Even the most powerful needs friends. Negotiation is important to resolve conflicts and discuss possible deals, acquisitions, mergers and takeovers. Part of negotiations is building credibility and trust with the other parties involved at the Round Table.
The final skill set, cashflow management, is the life force of every successful business. If cash is king, then cash flow is God! Effective cash flow management means you are generating enough revenue to meet your fiduciary obligations and responsibilities while having surplus for working capital to invest in the company for growth. Many times, entrepreneurs focus on profit, not realizing that there could be “leakage” in the revenue model. If you’re bringing in $1.50 in revenue and $2.00 is leaving in expenses, cash flow is compromised. Cash flow management needs to create a “positive imbalance” in your financial statements.