Teams and Projects 10 Skills of an Innovative Entrepreneur By Jennifer Martin | July 6, 2020 Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? Are you working for someone else and want to learn more about how to start an innovative business? The first step in becoming an innovative entrepreneur is to learn what skills you will need to succeed. With the right set of skills, you can become an innovative entrepreneur. You are born with some of the skills and the other skills are learned while attending college and on-the-job. So, “What makes an entrepreneur innovative?” What Makes an Entrepreneur Innovative? Innovative entrepreneurs possess a variety of skills that enable them to be successful at bringing to life new business ideas. They communicate well, in a timely manner and with the right information. They can position new products in crowded marketplaces. They win negotiations and build high-performance teams. They strategize to their own advantage and to the consternation of their competitors. And their decisions are backed by sound financial analysis. Entrepreneurs must often innovate to compete. Their success often hinges on bringing to market a new product or service that is better in some way. This is the DNA of innovation: the reinvention of something that brings competitive advantage. Entrepreneurs are constantly re-imagining the business world in innovative ways, and in ways that are more effective or efficient. The innovation of the personal computer, the introduction of the smartphone, the creation of a network that brings everyone together, and the list goes on. Entrepreneurs have been bringing to market new ideas for centuries. They have been the champions of innovation since before the word “entrepreneur” was coined. They are uniquely talented individuals who possess a diverse set of skills that promote new business success. The skills that will get them started include financial acumen, knowledge of market forces, effective communication, active listening, strategic thinking, network building, negotiation, leadership and motivation, time management and being agents of change. Skill #1: Financial Acumen Innovative entrepreneurs have a keen understanding of how to manage money and how to use financial assets to start, grow and maintain a business. They understand financial statements like balance sheets and income statements. Innovative entrepreneurs can use financial performance metrics to assess a business’ financial health. Their strong financial acumen gives them insight into how to turn a good idea into a profitable business. Skill #2: Knowledge of Market Forces Another key skill that innovative entrepreneurs have is an understanding of market forces. That is, they understand how the business environment will impact the success of a new business. They are skilled at assessing supply and demand for their new product or service. Innovative entrepreneurs understand their competitors, and they understand why they have a competitive advantage. Another market force that innovative entrepreneurs understand is a customer’s power and influence. Customers often expect higher quality products and services at lower prices. The innovative entrepreneur can assess the value of a new business and position it so that customers will ultimately pay more. Skill #3: Effective Communication One of the most important skills that innovative entrepreneurs possess is the ability to communicate in a way that builds relationships, fosters problem resolution, increase productivity and provides clear direction. Effective communication enables an entrepreneur to actively engage partners, employees and other stakeholders in the promotion of new business ideas. When communicating effectively, innovative entrepreneurs listen actively and ask relevant questions so they can better understand how do get things done. They are clear and provide concise feedback which enables them to be perceived as empathetic and trustworthy. Entrepreneurs who communicate well are the driving force behind the successful execution of key business initiatives. Skill #4: Active Listening Innovative entrepreneurs are active listeners. They know when to talk and when to listen. They listen with all of their senses. Innovative entrepreneurs use both verbal and non-verbal massages to convey that they are listening. By active listening, they not only know what is said but allow the speaker to understand that they are truly hearing what is said. They have good eye contact and provide feedback to the speaker creating a more open and honest conversation. They will also ask the right questions that help clarify the speaker’s intent. By being an active listener, an entrepreneur can build trust and establish a rapport with colleagues, team members and business associates. Skill #5: Strategic Thinking Innovative entrepreneurs use strategic thinking to position themselves in a competitive market. Having a strategy is an invaluable skill for innovative entrepreneurs. Thinking must be clear and actionable for an entrepreneur to be successful. Strategic thinkers bring new ideas to the table. Then, they follow up their ideas with an execution plan that includes the resources required to bring their idea to life. Strategic thinkers can see how their ideas fit into the bigger picture. Skill #6: Network Building Another skill that innovative entrepreneurs use is their ability to connect with others through an extensive and diverse network. This ability to build and actively engage a useful network enables entrepreneurs to quickly find the best quality resources and attract the best talent to their teams. Networking improves the efficiency of new business ventures. New products and services reach the market faster and have a greater likelihood of success when they are backed by entrepreneurs with effective networking skills. Skill #7: Negotiation Innovative entrepreneurs profit from being a good negotiator. Skilled negotiators can broker the best deals between parties who have differing interests. Entrepreneurs must be skilled negotiators because the success of their business hinges on whether or not others see the value in it. An innovative entrepreneur prepares and has all the information that is needed to build a good argument. They are willing to compromise. Are well prepared and understand the value of alternative solutions. They can find common ground on any debatable issue. Innovative entrepreneurs do not have a lot of time to spend resolving conflicts. So, they must address conflict quickly and not waste time refereeing counterproductive stalemates. As good negotiators, innovative entrepreneurs are often skilled at persuasion. They can present information in a way that motivates a purchase. They spend their time persuading others to change their minds, to buy their products or services, to invest in their ideas, and to complete projects on time. Skill #8: Leadership and Motivation Innovative entrepreneurs are great leaders. They have the skills to motivate others to listen, believe and follow. They lead with empathy, decisiveness, trustworthiness, transparency, consistency and clarity. They do not shy away from difficult tasks or challenging conversations. They are committed to the well-being of the team. And this is why they inspire followers. Innovative entrepreneurs must be strong leaders because their path is uncharted, and the way forward is sometimes uncertain. So, they must possess the courage, prudence and vision that motivates others to join them on their unpredictable journey. They must be the example that others want to follow. Skill #9: Time Management There is always more to do and less time to do it. So, it is important for entrepreneurs to manage their time well. Innovative entrepreneurs understand time management. They spend the right amount of time on tasks so that goals are met, and their ideas come to fruition. Skill #10: Change Agents Innovative entrepreneurs are agents of change. They gather the resources and forge the relationships that are necessary to bring about long-lasting change. They transform the business landscape for the better by offering best-in-class products and services that have never been offered before. Innovative entrepreneurs know what the world wants before they even know it. Final Thoughts These are the skills of an innovative entrepreneur uses to mitigate risk. These are the skills they use to heighten their flexibility, drive passion and boost creativity. Without these skills, they are less passionate and less likely to achieve great business success. With these skills, they are innovative entrepreneurs. Interested in learning more about innovation and entrepreneurship? Ready to get a Master of Arts in Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree at Cogswell University of Silicon Valley? Home to a who’s who of high-tech powerhouses—including Apple, Cisco, Facebook and Google—Silicon Valley boasts extraordinary achievements in innovation and entrepreneurship. The culture has fueled the growth of over 135,000 start-ups and has also informed the development of our one-year Master of Arts in Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree. The Master of Arts in Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree program is designed for graduate students seeking to establish their own business ventures, manage entrepreneurial enterprises, transition to new careers, or thrive through innovation within their current place of work. It provides an excellent way to earn your Master of Arts in Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree with minimal impact to your professional or personal life. Cogswell University of Silicon Valley is uniquely poised to offer a meaningful and valuable education for 21st century students. We believe in an education that directly correlates with the work you’ll be doing after you graduate. Interested in learning more? Contact Us today.