Last updated: January 16, 2020 by Loz James

entrepreneurial skills

Entrepreneurship is hard.

Mastering online marketing is perhaps even harder.

But as a time-strapped small business owner you knew that already right?

Yet here’s the thing…

If you can’t translate the success of your bricks and mortar business to a wider audience of the right people online – then at some stage your competitors will steal your market share. Who knows, it may even be another local business that does it.

That’s why every successful entrepreneur needs to learn some pretty specific and very important skills during their career – in order to make their company a success on the Internet.

These top skills will not only help to set you apart on the Web, by enhancing your online traffic, leads and sales – but will help you build a brand that stands the test of time in your industry.

So what are these essential skills entrepreneurs need? Let’s dive into a list of the key traits that will place you among the most successful online entrepreneurs in the world.

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1. Positioning

​Smart small business owners know that ​niching down will help them stand out online, rather than going too broad with their ​positioning.

However counter intuitive it may sound, there’s more money to be made by catering to a smaller market than…well, everyone.

Identifying ​a niche market ​requires an entrepreneur to adopt a marketer’s mindset, so you can focus on ​your potential audience’s pain points – their needs, wants and frustrations. ​Positioning your ​business to solve these problems will give you a great foundation to build upon.

Niche targeting has much to do with ​empowering your online ​authority and sales. ​By getting your positioning right from the outset, ​you’ll ​convert more of your web visitors into customers as you grow your traffic.

​Recommended Reader Resources

How To Create Strong Brand Positioning In Your MarketMarketing: A Guide To Successful Positioning

2. ​Knowing Your Audience

Right from the start you should always be thinking of how to effectively market your ​products and services. It all begins with getting a good grasp of what the people in your target audience want, and knowing how a desired product or service can address their needs.

​​Naturally, you should make sure ​there’s sufficient demand for ​what you’re offering – and ​devise a lead generation ​process to convert this demand into ​sales. ​

​Understanding who your target audience are, where they are and what keeps them awake at night will then help you create ​accurate customer avatars – and in turn assist you in mapping your customer sales journey online.

​Recommended Reader Resources

How ​To Create A Customer Avatar In 5 Simple StepsMapping Your Customer Journey In 5 Essential Stages

3. Understanding How To Scale

Having identified a desirable product/service and started building a business brand around it, you can soon (hopefully) expect to deal with an influx of demand.

Before this happens though, you should already have the systems in place to ensure that your business can efficiently handle the anticipated growth in customers.

This is what building a scalable business entails. It’s all about ensuring that profits are not compromised by inherently non-scalable processes as your revenues multiply.

​Recommended Reader Resources

​10 Top Tips On Scaling Your Business​How To Scale Content Creation With Dom Wells

4. Automating Your Systems

Success in running an online business has a lot to do with working smarter, not harder – so time management and streamlining your internal systems is key.

As a small business or startup owner you should always be concerned with optimizing scalability, speed and efficiency while keeping costs low.

​Identifying ​relevant software ​systems ​to automate ​key parts of your operation ​will enable you to ​efficiently manage growth ​as your company increases its online​ visibility.

​Recommended Reader Resources

​The Ultimate Guide To Business Process Automation​How To Create A Content Business Machine With Matt Wolf

5. Skillful Hiring & Outsourcing

At some point, successful startup owners need to find people to handle ​​simple core tasks – so they can dedicate more time and focus to the strategic aspects of their business operations.

Whether you decide to hire or outsource, prudence will require you to find the best people for ​specific tasks and set aside time to train them.

Be selective about this; not just anyone will do – and not just one person can be expected to do everything well. People have specialisms so try to bring these out to ensure ​you get value for ​money. If you find a hidden gem then ​​always reward good performance​.

​Recommended Reader Resources

​Making Time: The Benefits of Virtual Staff With Chris Ducker​101 Tasks You Can Outsource To Virtual Staff

startup entrepreneurial skills

6. Sales Skills & Effective Communication

Your success as a small business owner will largely depend on how well you can sell your product or service. At the end of the day, a business not making sales goes out of business.

So you’ll need to come up with strong offers and sales messages that will be compelling enough for your target audience, and you’ll ​need to train your salespeople ​well so ​they can consistently ​meet and exceed your sales goals.

​​Your sales messages will need to be purposeful, clear and impactful, and to grow your business you’ll have to be innovative and flexible in how you communicate ​​your unique ​value proposition ​to your target audience.

​Recommended Reader Resources

7 Effective Principles That’ll Skyrocket Your Sales​​How Content Marketing Leads To Sales With Chris Marr

7. Website Design & SEO Skills

​The quality of your website’s design, look and usability should always be top-notch. For ​most potential customers an unprofessional ​looking site is a huge turn off – ​and this negatively impacts your online authority and the trust this creates that fuels sales.

With that said, if you don’t have the cash for a big shot web designer, then WordPress is perfect for service based sites and blogging, while ​Shopify ​will help you cheaply and easily set up a new ecommerce store.

Even more crucial for success will be your ability to organically rank your website on Google by learning the basics of SEO. This is still the best way for most websites and ecommerce sites to find new customers. Until you’ve built a brand you’ll get better results ​from organic SEO than from social media marketing and other forms of online promotion.

​Recommended Reader Resources

How To Design a Website That Works​How To Start A WordPress Blog In 7 Easy StepsThe SEO Essentials Series

8. Personal Branding

Cultivating a strong personal brand is quickly becoming a crucial ingredient for online business success, especially considering the gig economy’s growing prevalence.

For Internet entrepreneurs, business success requires having a strong and positive online reputation. Everything about you that’s available online should reinforce your credibility as a person who is trustworthy and worth doing business with.

You may not want to be the face of your company – but in the digital marketing age someone will have to be.

​Recommended Reader Resources

​The Definitive Guide To Personal Branding​The Complete Guide To Building Your Personal Brand

9. Empathy, Trust & Authenticity

You’ll have a better chance of succeeding online if your audience and customers are confident ​you are genuinely concerned about their needs, challenges and difficulties – as opposed to merely making money.

Market empathy and a bit of emotional intelligence will allow you to better assess and understand what your audience’s pain points and challenges are, effectively helping you to come up with solutions that customers are likely to pay for.

​Always put customer service sfirst and respect your target audience. Sell them high quality products and services – and support them after their purchase. This will lead to repeat business and help you build a trusted brand.

​Recommended Reader Resources

​Why Empathy Is The Most Important Business SkillWhy Good Customer Service Is Your Most Important Metric

10. Business Finance Awareness

As an online entrepreneur there are three elements of business finance that you need a good grasp of…

Firstly, you’ll need to know plenty about your business’ accounts – there’s no other way to know how well or poorly your business is doing. As such you’ll need to be familiar with various accounting documents and how your accounting system works. While outsourcing accounting services is ​a necessity, you’ll still need the know-how in order to understand what the professionals are doing.

Secondly, you’ll need a solid understanding of how the legal side of doing business works. This will help you to carefully weigh the implications of any contracts or agreements your business may enter into. With this knowledge you should also be able to identify competent lawyers to work with – which are again a necessary expense to protect yourself going forward.

Thirdly, you should have good financial management skills. This way you’ll be able to make informed decisions about how you can invest your business’ money, raise and allocate capital and make sound financial projections​.

​Recommended Reader Resources

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Small Business FinanceThe Ultimate Guide to Managing Small Business Finances

11. Making Data-Driven Decisions

While using your intuition is an indispensable aspect of decision making, deferring to data is well advised – particularly when validating new business ideas, conducting market research, considering product launches, and assessing the results of regular online performance testing and validation.

Making informed decisions based on the stats and data will ​steer the formulation of effective business strategies​ – with the knock-on effect this will have on setting your online marketing goals and reaching your sales targets through your digital marketing work.

​And once the data tells you something is working​ (or not) – tweak it, repeat it, scale it and profit from it.

​Recommended Reader Resources

Why You’re Thinking About Digital Analytics All WrongHow to Increase Your Sales Using These 8 Google Analytics Reports

small business entrepreneurial skills


So there ​you have it, 11 essential entrepreneurial skills you’ll definitely need to deploy if you want to make a success of your small business online.

Master all these traits, skillsets and characteristics and your next online venture is sure to be a hit with your target audience.

Have we missed anything off this list? Let us know in the comments below what essential skills you ​believe are ​key to becoming a successful online entrepreneur…

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