The 3 Essential Skills for Entrepreneurial Success (and What it Takes to Master Them)

After the first few years of running my business, I realized that there are three master skills in professional life. They apply to all industries, fields, and areas of expertise. Master one of them and you’ll watch your social status and financial gains rise. Leverage all three and it’ll feel like doors open automatically and your rewards in life are so grand that it’s as if you found a magic lamp with a wish-granting genie.

Unfortunately, many people fail to cultivate these skills because they mistakenly believe they don’t matter as much compared to other skills. It’s a trap that leads many of the best and brightest minds in any given field to become the least financially successful. It’s a trap that I had fallen prey to until I had an epiphany after an old sales manager told me, “in order to lead people, they’ve gotta want to be you in some way.”

Talking is fairly straightforward. It’s the ability to talk to people one on one and communicate your ideas in a way that the other person can understand. By being able to connect, sympathize, empathize and explain a concept to anyone else, you create strong trust. People don’t trust a person as an expert or able to take care of their situation when they can’t understand the explanation because it’s so overly technical.

That said, writing and public speaking are a little special because both are intimidating for people. Many people avoid writing at any cost. Public speaking is one of the most common shared fears among people. Just about everyone panics over how they might mess something up or how intimidating it is to speak in front of their peers or a whole litany of other irrationalities that make palms sweaty and knees lock up.

The master skills have one common trait: the communication of ideas.

Mastery of these three skills takes diligent practice and time, but the good news is you can use them anywhere and in any field. They might scare you like they do most people, but the ROI they bring you over your lifetime in expert status, respectability, and profitability is immeasurable.

The fastest way to improve is to speak on as many stages as you can. Take every opportunity you can get and don’t worry about the size of the stage. Workshops, chamber of commerce events, local gatherings, or simple presentations at networking meetings are all valuable and meaningful avenues for improving your public speaking ability.

Getting the opportunity to speak at small events can be as simple as volunteering or asking an event coordinator if you can contribute. After your speech, you have a golden opportunity to ask individuals for feedback privately. Simply find a couple of audience members and ask them, “what were your key takeaways?”

Asking people for their takeaways rather than a generic “if they liked it” (which people always say “it was good”) results in them responding with just that: the lesson they took away from your speech. If it matches what you intended, you’re doing good. More commonly, people take away something wildly different than our intended message and figuring that out is immensely powerful in improving your communication skills. 

Testing your communication with public speaking makes writing much easier because they use similar storytelling and messaging skill sets. Getting feedback from speaking is easier than through writing because you don’t usually see a reader’s genuine reaction or get feedback as you do from on stage. Practicing them together dramatically increases your sales pitch effectiveness and your impact.

Why are these skills so impactful? Because they all help you communicate ideas to other people. The more effectively you communicate with people, the more impact you will have because fundamentally everything in society is about people interacting with people.

The success or failure of any of your ventures is determined almost exclusively by your ability to get other people to “buy-in” to you and your vision. To do that, you’ve got to communicate well.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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