1. Be able to sell anything
This is one of the most important qualities an entrepreneur can have. As an entrepreneur you are selling a lot. You will have to sell your ideas to customers, investors and potential employees. You sell your skills to these same audiences. You sell your leadership, your confidence, your vision and the importance of the values you promote. Aside from these things, you have to sell your products and services. Being a good salesman can be more difficult than it sounds. Are you able to step in front of a venture capital firm or a bank and defend that your idea is not only great, but is logical, convincing, and better than any other business who is seeking funding out there? You must be very convincing. If you are second guessing your idea back and forth, your idea is not ripe to take action, or you are not cut out for it. Don't waste your time and money on something you can't dedicate your whole heart to.
2. Don't leave things undone
If you have a problem finishing things, entrepreneurship is not for you. You cannot leave a business almost complete. Halfhearted attempts at starting a business will result in a business failure. If you are the person that people want on their team because they know you won't put your stamp of approval on a project until it is excellent, you should pat yourself on the back. Have you heard of entropy? Entropy is the tendency that things have to move from order to disorder. Businesses are no different. Businesses, without constant direction, can move from order to disorder if not appropriately shepherded in the right direction.
3. Vanilla, chocolate, or twist?
You must be comfortable with your gut instincts. There is a lot of information out there, and the truth is, you can't gather every bit of information possible before making decisions. You have to be able to have the judgment to know when to decide that you have sufficient information to make a decision and when you need more. If it takes you an incredible amount of time to make decisions, you need to find a way to change that before jumping into business as an entrepreneur. It is great to think things through, but if you think about it too much, you will still be on decision number 3 when you should be on decision number 5. Time is a finite resource, making it very valuable. You cannot repurchase or reproduce time once it has been used. You must understand and be ready for the actual volume of decisions you will be making as an entrepreneur. Are you ready to make dozens of big decisions on a daily basis?
Confidence is an important skill to have. You should have confidence in your ideas, in yourself and in others. You have to trust others to do their job and to do it well. No matter how amazing you may think you are, you cannot work everyone else's job along with your own. If you are confident in the abilities of others, you can allow them to shine. Your ideas are not always the only ideas or the best ideas. By showing confidence in the abilities of others, you allow for new ideas to emerge into the business. Also, in my experience, people try harder to do a better job when they know people trust in their abilities and can count on them. Being confident in your own abilities is critical to your success. Confidence is not only an attribute, but a skill to be mastered. Many people can show confidence when certain things are going in their favor, it takes a great leader to have confidence even when things are not going well.
5. Time management & planning skills
As mentioned earlier, time is a finite resource. If you let time get away from you, you will have a hard time starting a successful business. Your planner should be your best friend. Learn to prioritize and plan. I suggest setting aside several hours each week to plan for the entire week and to make daily adjustments. I also suggest having quarterly and yearly planning sessions. Just like diets, most people know they should do it, but there are few who actually are successful at it.
6. Communication & Persuasion
It is a skill to be able to express an idea in a clear and concise manner. You should be able to pick out the most important concepts of your ideas and speak about them with clarity. You will also need to understand thoroughly the business industry in order to be persuasive. If you are talking to a potential investor and you get asked a hard question, be prepared to be asked an even harder question if you are unable to answer the first question. If you don't have an answer, it shows a gap in your knowledge. Too many gaps and you are out of a deal. You should also have enthusiasm. If you are not enthusiastic about your idea, it is hard to persuade others to believe it is good one.
Being a daredevil in high school or college does not guarantee that you are going to be a great entrepreneur, though it may help. A person can be fearless and stupid. When you have courage, however, you recognize the risks, but take action regardless. You accept the risk before you start and try to do what is possible to mitigate the risk while moving forward. There is a lot you can be fearful of when starting a business. As an entrepreneur you need to be able to overcome your fears and ensure they don't keep you from reaching your potential.
8. Learning skills
Learning is a skill. As an entrepreneur you need to be a quick learner. You have to be willing to learn new skills constantly. One business owner I know is a great example of this. He has set aside the first hour of every work day to read about the current things happening in his industry. I know many other successful entrepreneurs who continually set aside time to learn new skills. You will need to learn how to gain understanding and find meaning that is deeper than the surface. You must learn to make your own arguments (not just those made by the media), synthesize new knowledge, memorize information, gain new relevant skills, and be able to utilize all this knowledge to create new things and make old things more efficient.
Good luck to all the new entrepreneurs, the world needs your enthusiasm and your new ideas. Let me know if you have any other thoughts on the skills needed by entrepreneurs.