I’ve been thinking lately about which skills would be the most useful ones for an entrepreneur taking into account the effort, time and money required to learn them.
Useful as that you will need them so often that is not practical to be hiring someone to do them again and again.
And the 3 chosen ones are:
1. Basic web design
Knowing how to do a simple web quickly where you can explain what your business is about, an ecommerce store to sell your products and a blog/forum to get in touch with your customers will be very very useful now and much more in the future, and it is not complicated at all.
(You can do these things with premade tools like 1&1 Mi Web which I do not recommend, because they cost you money and make your site look like other thousands in the web, losing credibility and personalization. They also have more functions than the necessary ones so they make your web heavier and therefore slow.)
To make a simple website with a header containing your business logo, your value proposition below, a video and a contact form you just have to know a little bit of HTML (web structure) and CSS (style of the structure). Besides, you will need a domain name and a server to upload the files, Hostgator for example.
Learning HTML and CSS is very simple and you can do it for free and at your own pace in Codecademy with their Web Fundamentals course. You will learn in a very interactive and entertaining way, and probably complete it in a week or less.
To make an ecommerce store, a blog and a forum, you will need a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress which is the one I am using in this blog. These system take care of all and put at your disposal an administration panel to control everything easily. In an online shop for example, you can add products, images, see the sellings, the info of your customers… All from this panel.
These CMS will probably be preinstalled on your server so it is just necessary one click to get them running. Even though, it is still very useful for you to learn HTML and CSS to customize the design and add the things you consider appropiate.
2. Knowing how to sell
As an entrepreneur you’ll be constantly selling, you have to be able to sell your products or services to customers as well as possible investors.
You have to be able to express your proposition clearly and convince that it is exactly what they are looking for.
For this is not necessary, but helps, to be extroverted and charismatic. It is also important to believe in yourself and your idea, not being afraid of what others might think, since most likely they will not like it at first.
The best way I can think to improve this skill is with a cold call job. Even if it sucks in general, and you don’t earn much money, or even lose because of transport costs and high minimun requirements to collect, take it like an investment in your education. You will get no fear of rejection, the ability to sell anything even to people who doesn’t want it, to know how to deal with different kind of people…
Another option that has been personally very helpful is to sell any kind of stuff face to face via classified sites (Craiglist). These things were things I didn’t want anymore or clothes/electronics I bought in China to sell.
This way you learn how to negotiate price and location, and you can experiment in many different ways o sell better. One of these ways is to put two ads for the same product with different texts, to see what kind of writting style attracts more people. You can also vary the perspective of your product’s pictures to see which one is more appealing.
3. Basic graphic design
This one is somehow related with the first one but not exclusively. Graphic design is everywhere, from your business logo, to the letter with the menus in a restaurant, the ads you hire online, the style you use in your presentation to investors…
For this you will need to know basic theory of color combination and control Photoshop (or Gimp that is free) to handle bitmap images, and Illustrator (or Inkscape) to handle vector images.
The difference between these two types of images is that the vector ones don’t lose quality no matter how much zoom you make in them, but they are very limited in color and shapes comparing to bitmap images. But the latter does lose quality when you zoom in them. We will use the first one when creating logos, so we can adapt them to any size we want, from the ones to fit in social networks’ profiles to the much bigger one used in merchandising. And the other one for photos.
To know how to properly combine colors in different ways, this tools is great: Adobe Kuler.
To know how to use the above programs is best to go to YouTube where there are thousands of tutorials, and go repeating what they do at the same time, for example this guy makes great tutorials: Shawn Barry.
And these are the 3 important skills I have considered important and simple for an entrepreneur.
What do you think about them? Would you add anyone or change something of these? Do not hesitate to write a comment.
This post was written more than 6 months ago, maybe things have changed or I don't think the same way anymore