It is interesting when one looks at the skills that evolve over time as an entrepreneur. Rarely do we stop and reflect on the lessons being in business for ourselves teach us. And yet, every day as an entrepreneur, we fail, test ideas, experiment, learn, and then bring our ideas to life successfully.
When I started my first business at 13, I had few skills. I could sew great stuffed animals and could sell them to the parents of my friends at local craft fairs. My Mom (an soon to be Accountant) worked with me on costing, calculating the time, and helped me figure out what a fair price would be. At 13, I didn’t need much money. So every sale was a bonus. There wasn’t a lot of marketing, no bookkeeping and administration, and no long-term vision. It simply was a cash sale with the money being pocketed. It was a short term endeavor.
When I entered my twenties and started a business, things were more formal. I had a rough business plan; I knew exactly who the market was; I had a marketing and sales plan; I knew what the costs were and priced the ads in the publication accordingly. Heck, I even did the books, had sales contracts, and filed things away appropriately. I’d evolved.
At 33 when I started HIP Strategic, I was armed with many more skills. I knew how to research business ideas, to assess business feasibility, write kick-ass business and marketing plans, to apply (and get) loans. I had the critical thinking skills needed to assess and analyze business progress, to define benchmarks, to forecast future sales, and to measure results. I was learning all the time!
Now in my 50’s with over 30 years of entrepreneurship and business ownership under my belt, I’ve evolved even further. I’ve learned that I can do anything that I want when it comes to business with the solid set of business skills that I’ve developed over 3 decades of failing, getting back up, trying again – and always researching new ideas, skills, and approaches.
When I pause to reflect on what skills and experiences, I’ve gathered over the past 3 decades, and I open up my toolbox, I’m amazed to see what I’ve amassed. Skills that I didn’t think I’d ever learn (think financial management); skills that I hoped to learn, but seriously thought might be beyond my abilities (speak confidently in public and make presentations); skills that have come naturally and that I’ve been able to enhance (my ability to build strong relationships with those I meet). The list could go on.
Of the skills in my toolbox, the one that I treasure the most is that I’ve learned that I can depend on myself, that I can learn whatever I need to, that I am resourceful, smart, and capable. This is the skill that I am most proud of having developed.
What skills have you learned by being self-employed? Which are you most proud of having developed? Share your thoughts in the comments below.