8 Skills Successful Entrepreneurs Have That Others Don’t


There are skills you can learn from textbooks, skills you can learn in business school, and skills and lessons passed down from mentors and peers. Then there are the skills that can only be learned in the school of hard knocks and the real world. An entrepreneur who wants to be a true leader must understand which skills are the most important in order to lead a healthy and growing business. Here are eight of the most critical skills which differentiate successful entrepreneurs from others.

1: Patience and Persistence
The life of an entrepreneur includes facing many closed doors. Successful entrepreneurs have grit. They focus on the end goal and have the patience to see it through to completion despite the roadblocks.

2: Planning Skills & Time Management
Entrepreneurs must wear many hats and are often pulled in many different directions throughout the day. It’s critical, therefore, that plans and goals are flexible enough to handle unexpected surprises when they occur. Successful entrepreneurs set the GPS for their lives and businesses so they know where they are going every hour of every day.

3: Communication & Persuasion
Whether speaking with a prospect, a customer, an employee, or a stakeholder, it’s critical that the message and key concepts are presented clearly. When the point is made with focus and clarity, the chance for ambiguity falls by the wayside. Leaders know how to communicate and how to persuade.

4: Confidence & Sales Skills
Successful entrepreneurs are able to sell their products, services, ideas, and passion not only to the outside world of customers but also to their internal team of employees. That requires confidence and sharp sales skills. Successful entrepreneurs can sell anything.

5: Knowledge and Learning Skills
Successful entrepreneurs are passionate about continuous growth and improvement. When others think they know all there is to know, these leaders will push themselves to expand their horizon. They set aside an hour or more each day to read and learn about new, noteworthy industry advances they can apply to their business.

6: Realistic Optimists
No one can avoid bad news. Losing customers and having employees quit is part of life for any entrepreneur. The difference comes in how people view these challenges. The successful entrepreneur doesn’t hide bad news under the rug, but has learned instead to deal with it quickly and move on to the task at hand without being dragged down.

7: Resourcefulness and Managing Cash Flow
Resourcefulness is a great trait for any entrepreneur. The ability to think creatively and come up with out-of-the-box solutions is a must-have skill. This goes hand in hand with being able to manage the cash flow of the business. It’s a skill that shouldn’t be outsourced and one that the most successful entrepreneurs have learned very well.

8: Intense Focus
What separates the most successful entrepreneurs from others is their ability to focus intently on the goals and tasks at hand. In a world of short attention spans and constant noise, these leaders are able to put blinders on when needed, unplug from all the unnecessary distractions, and see the task all the way through. That is perhaps the biggest difference between successful and ultra-successful entrepreneurs.

Becoming a successful entrepreneur is not about what you are now, but what you do today and tomorrow. You now know eight critical skills to work on to be what you are meant to become. Start working on them today.

HTML vs. Plain Text Emails: Which Should You Choose?

After seeing the visual difference between HTML and plain-text emails, it’s hard for many companies to send anything but fancy HTML formatting with every email they send. However, just because you can make HTML emails doesn’t mean you always should.

While HTML messages typically have flashy graphics that grab attention, they also lack a personalized touch and feel more “salesy.” In addition, HTML emails take longer to download, use more disk space, and often gain a bad rap for privacy threats, potential viruses, and information tracking. If a recipient doesn’t accept HTML emails (due to security, bandwidth issues, privacy, etc.) or an email program doesn’t interpret it correctly, your message will appear in plain text with random code that is extremely difficult to read.

Another reason to consider plain text is that more and more people check email on their cell phones, and many still have issues displaying HTML correctly.

Because email is a method of communication, many people believe the focus should be on the message and not how pretty it looks. But marketers also understand that sometimes the only way a message will get read is if it exudes visual appeal.

One solution may be to send emails embedded with both plain text and HTML, or to create a combination of both (an email that looks like plain text yet features basic ROI tracking, a share link, or social media buttons). And don’t forget, we’re also here to help anytime you’d like ideas for communicating in print!

Are You a Winning Teammate?

Baseball legend Babe Ruth once said, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

Ruth may have been talking about baseball, but the same is true in business. While we often celebrate visionary leaders and pioneering individuals who set themselves apart from the crowd, most successful companies are built and sustained on the effectiveness of their teams.

team playing

So what sets great teams apart, and what traits should you aspire to as part of a team? Here are five keys to get you started.

Define your role. Every show needs a supporting cast, and every team needs role players who bring their own unique skills and experiences to the table. Figure out what role you play (or should play) on the team. If you are the team leader, then lead. Otherwise, carve out a niche for yourself that allows you to bring your best qualities forward for the betterment of the group.

But be flexible. Remain open to the needs of your team and willing to adapt to fill a role outside your comfort zone. Doing this will not only help the team meet its goals but will also help you personally grow and expand your own skills and abilities. In the process, you might have fun discovering new areas of interest you enjoy tackling on the job.

Assists are important, too. In basketball and hockey, players are given assists for helping set up a scoring shot. In baseball, relief pitchers must often get their team out of a tough situation, and closers are called upon to “save” another pitcher’s win. Look for ways you can contribute to victories at work, without the need for personal glory or praise. Use your strengths to complement those around you, be quick with a helping hand, and remember that when the team wins, you do, too.

Communicate effectively. Open communication is vital to any team’s success. Strive to be clear, concise, honest, and direct with your team, always mindful and respectful of the other members, too. Work on creating an atmosphere where people feel encouraged to share their ideas and to discuss them freely, with the goal of bringing the best ideas forward, regardless of egos.

Play nice. In discussing solutions, listen intently to contrary views. Tackle each project with a spirit of cooperation. Keep discussions civil, and look for ways to compromise when possible without sacrificing the team’s goals or integrity. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and offer support for others who may be struggling. Above all, remember that you’re all part of the same team and are working toward the same common goal.

9 Ways to Increase Customer Retention

Experts say it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. Consequently, customer retention is critical to the success of your business. Here are a few tips to help you stay in front of your customers and increase your customer retention rates:
Develop a customer loyalty program that offers special promotions and incentives for return customers, such as birthday discounts, a reward punch card, free shipping, monthly discounts, free upgrades, and the like.

Offer surveys that ask customers what they think of your business and how you can improve.

Encourage open communication with your customers. Request feedback and suggestions. Offer options such as email forms, surveys, a toll-free number, chat forums, and social media links.

Consider creating a focus group with a couple loyal customers to provide their insight from a customer’s perspective. Be sure to reward them for their input.

Utilize customer complaints and suggestions to improve your products or services.

Create a referral program that encourages and rewards loyal customers to do the selling for you.

Differentiate yourself from the competition. Offer value add-ons, educate your customers about industry trends, provide helpful tips, and have a live person answer your phones instead of a confusing automated system.

Socialize with your customers. Attend trade shows, offer open houses, encourage customers to respond to blog posts, and communicate with your customers on social media sites.

Mail personalized thank you cards showing your appreciation for recent purchases or for interest in your products and services.
If you have other ideas for keeping customers satisfied, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

7 Keys to a Successful Collaboration

The business annals are filled with examples of successful (and not so successful) collaborations. Many of the innovations we take for granted today are the result of individuals and organizations coming together to work toward a common goal. If your company is considering a collaboration (even internally between departments), here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Start with a common goal, and make sure all parties understand it. Outline your plan, and decide up front who will be responsible for which aspects of the project.

Spell out your expectations, key deliverables, and a timetable for completion. That way, everyone will start on the same page.

Establish trust… and work to maintain it. Without trust, information will not flow freely, and if that happens, the collaboration is doomed. Starting with common goals and expectations (see above) will go a long way to building trust, as will delivering on the promises you make.

Of course, building trust doesn’t mean compromising security. When collaborating with another company or with individuals outside your company, share only information that is vital to the project at hand. This will serve two purposes: First, it will save time that could be wasted getting into details that are irrelevant to the work. Second, it will eliminate leaks that could damage one collaborator’s position.

Along those same lines, have all parties involved sign non-disclosure agreements, as a legal safeguard to ensure everyone has the project’s best interest in mind. Obviously, this is not necessary for internal collaborations, but when working with outside parties, an NDA can keep everybody protected.

Let each collaborator focus on their strengths. In successful collaborations, each party brings its own strengths and skillsets to the table. Trouble starts when egos get wounded and collaborators are unwilling to give up control of certain aspects of the project. A well-defined and documented plan, like the one outlined above, will help.

Keep in close touch with your superiors. If you’re representing your company in a collaboration, let your supervisors know how things are progressing. Keep them in the loop, so they can step in when necessary to help ensure the project remains on track.
What other tips or examples do you have to share from your own collaborations or from collaborations you’ve seen? I’d love to read about them in the comments below.