(This is a guest post from Niraj Ranjan Rout. Niraj is the founder of Hiver (hiverhq.com), an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. He’s also a fellow fan of no-nonsense advice, and that’s why he’s sharing a few tips with us today – recommended skills for startup leaders from an actual startup leader.)


Every entrepreneur is a leader, and leadership roles are highly demanding. There is always a host of expectations to meet and a tremendous amount of pressure to handle.

This is especially true for startup founders. In the startup environment, the risk of failure is high and the business you are leading is often fragile and volatile.

The following skills are incredibly important for young entrepreneurs and startup leaders, because regardless of how great the business idea is, these skills are what will take a startup from an idea to an actual success.

Let’s get started.

1. You Have To Master Sales

Without knowing how to sell, a startup founder would be just another person with a great idea; to become an entrepreneur, I believe it’s essential to master the art of sales.

Great leaders are always selling. They must attract investors to invest in their company. They must convince talented employees to join their team. They must close customers on the value of their product.

Without embracing the art of selling, an entrepreneur can go only so far. Salesmanship is a pivotal skill in the culmination of your startup.

2. You Must Be Able To Assess Yourself

A startup, or any business for that matter, is unquestionably a volatile setting. Unpredictability, uncertainty, risks and failures are a part of you everyday routine, especially in the early stages. In order to lead such a volatile environment, you must be extremely self-aware. You need to understand and play to your strengths while also understanding and mitigating your weaknesses.

For example, a startup leader who is aware that marketing is not his strength will make sure to hire a marketer instead of wasting time trying on his own and failing at marketing activities.

Furthermore, being aware of these strengths and weaknesses will help you choose a team that can balance out your problem areas, helping you build a well-rounded team able to accomplish any needed task.

3. You Must Be Able To Balance Hustle & Life

Having a work-life balance might not seem very important when you are all caught up in the excitement of building and growing your own company, but trust me, it’s very much necessary for your long-term sanity!

A successful startup leader isn’t someone who has a great company but no life. Rather, it is someone who is great at time management and has both work and life sorted out.

Fortunately, we live in an age where a plethora of business tools and apps are available to help you manage your work time and increase your efficiency, allowing you to achieve work-life balance without much difficulty. When you are able to meet your human needs outside of work (or even during your workday), you will be far more productive during the time you set yourself to get things done.

4. You Must Have Peripheral Vision

Anticipating the future, envisioning the bigger picture, and guiding the team is an entrepreneurial leader’s primary task.

Your team and your employees can design awesome products by themselves, talk and convince clients without your help, and come up with innovative ideas on their own. What you are TRULY needed for is to ensure that everything, everyone and every decision is headed in the right direction and contributing to growth and success.

For example, you need to be aware of the changes in your industry. Are there new upcoming marketing platforms that could help your business? Is your technology going to become obsolete soon? Is the raw material price going to rise this year? Being able to spot, prepare for, and adapt to a changing environment will keep your business moving forward

Speaking of which…

5. You Must Be Able To Adapt

Only 1 out of every 10 startups survives, and that one startup wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t willing to change its original idea to fit what the market needed.

The market is what it is – an external factor. You have no control over it. All you can do is to stay in sync with it. For all you know, you may start out with one business model and ultimately end up with a completely different one.

Getting attached to ideas, plans and decisions can crush your startup before you even begin.

At my startup Hiver, we did about 5 iterations to our product before we could call it a perfect fit for the market demand. This involved replacing some marvelous features because there was no demand for them. Trust me, it hurt, but I had to be able to make the tough call and adapt to the market.

6. You Must Be Emotionally Intelligent

Emotional intelligence is not really emphasized enough as an essential skill for leadership.

Hiring, understanding, and motivating employees requires emotional intelligence. Building a strong team dynamic requires emotional intelligence. Successfully negotiating with investors and clients requires emotional intelligence.

You can’t escape the need for EI!

Emotional intelligence is not just about understanding and managing others’ emotions. It’s also about understanding and managing your own.

As a leader, you can’t afford to be driven by emotions or be whimsical in your decision making. You will need to be emotionally smart to become more objective and effective when making decisions.

7. You Must Be Able To Speak

Networking is an undisputedly necessary skill for a startup leader.

For example, having a wide network can help you test out product features and ideas before you bring them to life.

A network of trusted friends implies you can get a third perspective on your business at all times. Plus, this can help you promote your product faster and more efficiently.

Also, your network is one great place to look for the right kind of employees for your startup.

Final Thoughts

You may be naturally gifted with some of these skills and with others, not so much. But a skill is something you can learn, build and train yourself in.

There are some incredible resources out on the internet that will help you develop these skills. So don’t worry if you are lacking in some, you can get there with some effort.

 

Post by Niraj Ranjan Rout. Niraj is the founder of Hiver (hiverhq.com), an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool.

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