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✅ How to Improve Founder Skills: Strategies For Effective Leadership and Business Growth In 2024

By March 4, 2024 March 6th, 2024

In entrepreneurship, staying still is no better than moving backward.

“Founders of a previously successful business have a 30% chance of success with their next venture.” – Embroker

This stat shows us that entrepreneurship is essentially a game of trial and error, with the prize going to the founders who grow their skills and try until they succeed.

And all of the evidence strongly supports a simple truth: remarkable business accomplishments do not happen by chance. They are the result of persistence and finely-tuned founder skills.

Are you ready to equip yourself with the expertise needed to thrive? Read on to learn how continuous refinement of your skills is the key to transitioning from surviving to flourishing as a founder.

How to Improve Founder Skills

As a founder, your growth strategy must match the dynamism of your entrepreneurial aspirations. Consider skill development as your odyssey in the startup world. Unlocking new skills elevates your startup’s potential for success. From mastering decision-making to honing leadership abilities, each skill you acquire enriches your founder persona, empowering you in the startup arena. Discover how to wield these skills with finesse and innovation!

  1   Perseverance

Thomas Edison made thousands of attempts before inventing the light bulb. He also viewed these attempts not as failures but as a thousand ways that didn’t work.

Startups face many challenges, from funding woes to market uncertainties, and entrepreneurs who exhibit steadfastness embody the spirit of perseverance of other founders. When setbacks occur, the ability to return swiftly to a normal condition after a difficult situation is paramount, allowing you to learn, adapt, and pivot.

✅ How to improve it: Set detailed goals for an actionable daily playbook. One technique to set goals is the S.M.A.R.T method (Smart, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Timely). At the end of each day, celebrate every small win you have earned by acting on your goals. As you aim for your long-term goals, you can use a weekly wins planner to celebrate your victories. And since failure is a part of the process, learning from it is a win and a form of perseverance that lets you find a new way to achieve your goal.



  2   Resilience

Resilience, or mental toughness, is a recovery from setbacks and challenges that pepper the entrepreneurial journey. To avoid unexpected changes, maintain momentum by adjusting and acting on something of use.

Whether you are learning a new skill that isn’t immediately clicking with you or working towards results that have not come through, it’s about picking yourself off the ground and trying again.

✅ How to improve it: Develop a growth mindset to build resilience. The concept of growth and fixed mindsets was coined by psychologist Carol Dweck in her 2006 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. According to Dweck, “Challenging situations can be catastrophic for those with fixed mindsets because of the implication that if they don’t already have the skills or intelligence to complete a task, there’s no chance of improvement.” Thus, having a growth mindset allows you to set goals outside of your current skill set and have confidence in your ability to achieve them. However, achieving these goals is highly stressful, so it is also advisable to practice stress management. Know the importance of work-life balance and implement self-care-ideas.


  3   Risk-Taking


Become a risk-taker and embrace uncertainty to achieve a goal. There are different types of risks, such as strategic risk, reputation risk, and financial risk, that you will take. When leaping into the unknown, predicting an outcome with absolute certainty is impossible.

Nevertheless, taking risks and chances is the key to adapting, finding successful new methods, seizing opportunities, and driving innovation.

✅ How to improve it: Evaluate risks carefully by conducting a risk analysis. Determine how likely the risk is to occur and its impact. Should it occur, what would be your next steps? And, what could you do before the risk occurs as a preventative measure? By continuing your course of action into a potentially risky outcome, there are chances of both success and failure. Accepting failure as part of taking risks is part of the learning process. Should you fail to achieve that goal, you still have all of your knowledge gained through trial and error that you can use to set and achieve a new goal.


  4   Focus

After you have set long-term goals, staying focused on all the actions that go into that goal is crucial. It sounds easy, but distractions can leave the checklist of items incomplete for far too long. Distractions caused by smartphones, clutter, and noise should be minimized.

This will allow you to finish your work and have free time, which is essential for work-life balance. Work-life balance adds to your focus and lets you maintain focus for long periods and avoid burnout.

✅ How to improve it: Improve focus by prioritizing tasks. There are several popular task prioritization techniques: The Eisenhower Matrix, ABCDE method, RICE, Weighted Shortest Job First method, and the Kano model. By looking at your task list, choose the best technique for you. One common theme among these techniques is to differentiate between long-term and short-term goals, the latter being especially important. It is a skill to set short-term goals, and the more you set a goal and accomplish it, the better you will become at setting attainable goals. However, distractions can derail even the most well-defined short-term goals, so minimizing all distractions is crucial.


  5   Openness to Feedback

Try to avoid working in an isolated bubble, and help yourself out by asking for feedback. Share your progress, goals, and knowledge with people willing to give honest feedback.

Review some positive feedback examples that fall under the significant feedback categories of appreciation, guidance, encouragement, and coaching. You may also seek feedback after failure to help prepare for the future. Feedback is an essential form of communication that allows for your growth based on external insights.

✅ How to improve it: Consider the people who could provide you with the different feedback types. Network on LinkedIn and at networking events regularly, and connect with professionals in your field for constructive feedback. For less technical connections, consider talking with family and friends. After each conversation, show appreciation and thank them. While some input provides validation, hearing even the most constructive critiques can be hard. However, you should show emotional intelligence by being polite and always show appreciation.


  6   Decision-Making

Effective decision-making is vital for steering the direction of your business. Amidst uncertainties and complexities, you still have to be decisive. Have the end goal in mind, and make moves that align with your objectives.

✅ How to improve it: Improve your decision-making by turning uninformed decisions into informed decisions that give more realistic expectations. One valuable type of feedback is from constructive feedback from professional connections, and another is from metrics and raw data. Find a software and tool that collects metrics from your work, and use that data in your decision-making process. Further information may come from scientific journals, peer-reviewed journals, and primary sources that give examples and insights. Of course, decisions are often made under pressure, and some techniques that help are the OODA Loop method, SWOT analysis, and mental rehearsal of outcomes.


  7   Leadership

Growing your business requires leadership, and learning team management skills go a long way toward business goals. Leadership in startup culture involves conveying your unique vision clearly and inspirationally to all team members, providing a good example, directing operations, and adding value in small ways.

There are many leadership styles, from transformational to a more delegate-heavy approach, that you can use on different occasions. Do what is best to guide your team toward achieving business goals.

✅ How to improve it: The five pillars of leadership are emotional intelligence, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Actively improving these will enhance your ability to put your hand on the pulse of the leadership style you need to use in different situations. You can listen to how other leaders enact leadership principles on business podcasts. This entails understanding your strengths and weaknesses, how you emotionally react and actively listen to others.


  8   Time Management

Proper time management over several ongoing responsibilities requires prioritization and team management skills. The two time management factors are deadlines (self-imposed or external) and order of operations.

Sometimes, you need to do one thing before another can start. You can make an informed decision by learning how others balance the same set of tasks. When you are called upon to answer numerous demands, your strategic use of time is vital to maximizing productivity and balancing responsibilities.

✅ How to improve it: Since the management of tasks relates to time, tools that will help are calendars and to-do lists. Use a delegation leadership style and delegate tasks across the team. Reading management newsletters can keep you updated on how others manage their workloads, delegate, and make the most of their time.


  9   Networking

Networking is crucial for entrepreneurs as it opens opportunities for growth, partnerships, and additional learning.

Growth can mean attaining new employees or tools that others relate to you. You may find professional partnerships for cooperating businesses that benefit each other, including putting together fundraising events. The type of learning attained is invaluable, as the trade of information is highly beneficial. You can also develop lifelong friends through networking and expanding your contacts.

✅ How to improve it: The strength of networking relies on the follow through. Attending networking events sponsored by industry leaders can put you in first contact with many strong connections. Still, you must follow up with an appreciative message, insightful questions, and comments that grow your relationship. One way to prepare for industry events is to practice your elevator pitch: your mission statement and competencies as a business. You’ll use the same elevator pitch at all events, including online forums. So, mark your calendar of all upcoming events and attend as many as possible.


  10   Financial Acumen

Since business decisions have financial incentives in mind, financial acumen is a crucial skill to improve continuously. It would be best if you were educated and knowledgeable in financial matters to make informed business decisions that work for your stakeholders.

Short-term goals rely on healthy working capital, from purchasing materials to paying wages. Read the best financial newsletters to see how other entrepreneurs make financially motivated decisions. Increasing working capital as your business grows is an excellent sign of its health.

✅ How to improve it: You can attain financial insight by taking courses in financial management. Learn to use accounting software and business budget templates through courses or book manuals. Prioritize learning financial management principles so you can make sound decisions. Periodically consult with financial advisors who can review your business’ finances and offer expert opinions, especially while you are still learning.


  11   Adaptability

Every day brings something new, making adaptability a pivotal trait to practice. Make adjustments, often by modification, to ensure your venture fits a changing business landscape.

The ability to progress toward or realize goals despite or because of circumstances indicates strong adaptability. If you create a product, adaptability will move your product towards a product-market fit as you better understand market conditions and progress in the product creation stages.

✅ How to improve it: As Tony Robbins says, “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach. It’s the end you’re after.” You may need to pivot your strategy to accomplish the same goal, which means changing short-term goals and strategies, reallocating funds, and reaching out to different people. It helps to stay informed on industry trends within your market by reading career newsletters and communicating with your professional network. It is also a good topic of conversation at networking events.



  12   Strategic Planning

A business without a strategic plan is like a ship without a rudder, constantly being pushed around until it capsizes. Put the ambitious vision of your business into practice with some strategic planning that defines your long-term goals. Bring all of your stakeholders together and realize the realities of what your current situation allows you to reach in the future.

The outcome? An operational plan tied to metrics that enable you to stay agile yet goal-oriented.

✅ How to improve it: Several practical techniques exist for strategic planning. SMART goal templates create specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. There is also business analysis, benchmarking, capability analysis, and goal planning. Learn how others implement business strategy in entrepreneurship newsletters. On a regular basis, review your strategic plan and make adjustments.


  13   Creativity & Innovation

Creativity and innovation are crucial for entrepreneurs on a startup journey that differentiates a business from competitors.

The quality of creating something unique rather than imitating sets you apart in the market. Innovation involves the introduction of new elements that distinguish you slightly from competitors. Embracing creativity and innovation becomes a strategic move to stand out and thrive in a market with other businesses offering similar goods or services.

✅ How to improve it: While your business grows and adapts, learn from these companies who exemplify high performing company culture. Keep ongoing collaboration and brainstorming open among all team members, and you will reap a heap of insights and ideas that you can strategically implement. Communicating with your team members is a form of communication as important as professional networking.


  14   Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is pivotal in managing relationships, understanding team dynamics, and providing effective leadership. The ability to recognize, understand, and skillfully deal with one’s own emotions among others can mean making everyone feel appreciated and included.

✅ How to improve it: Emotional intelligence is complex because emotions are complex. Stay positive by giving positive feedback and practicing empathy. Furthermore, you can become more self-aware by taking a Myers-Briggs or other personality tests. Practice stress management with some self-care and implement techniques to reduce stress at work.


  15   Sales & Marketing

Sales and marketing drive business growth, facilitate customer acquisition, and connect your business to the consumer market.

In the realm of startups, the effective use of strategies related to selling and purchasing in the market is essential for success. This process always grows and adapts and is always seeking new channels to make stronger ties to customers.

✅ How to improve it: Digital marketing, like maintaining a podcast or running a social media account, are influential digital marketing trends. New technology like A.I. lets you put chatbots on your website to answer customer questions and direct them to internal links. Try augmented reality to drop a rendering of your product or service in a real-world environment as a short video. These trends focus on hyper-personalization that customers seek to cater to their increasingly specific lifestyles. Use these technologies and platforms to implement robust sales techniques, addressing pain points, generating leads, and displaying your value. When customers arrive, use sales skills and good communication skills to engage with them fully.


  16   Continuous Learning

Continuous learning through ongoing instruction and knowledge, for both personal and technical skills, is crucial for businesses to grow and adapt.

It forms the basis upon which entrepreneurs stand, supporting your journey towards success. Continuous learning allows you to evolve gradually, leading your ventures through a succession of states and changes, each serving as preparation for the next.

✅ How to improve it: Continuously learn by setting clear learning objectives that let you reach all of your goals. In fact, having a growth mindset when goal setting means setting goals that are outside of your current skillset, forcing you to learn something new. Learning opportunities can come from small classes, both online and in person. Use various resources, including professional development newsletters, business newsletters, and books that are directly related to business growth and development.


  17   Negotiation

Negotiation leads to successful deals, establishing partnerships, and resolving conflicts. The effectiveness of negotiation lies in its ability to produce desirable outcomes for all parties.

It would be best if you understood how a business partnership will contribute towards your business outcome and whether continuing with a partnership is advantageous. In high-stakes negotiations, using good practices can act as conflict resolution when either party feels they are losing.

✅ How to improve it: Negotiation is as much communication as it is about addressing the needs and interests of all parties. Communication skills such as active listening, empathy, and clear communication all improve negotiations. You can improve these skills by reading negotiation books.


  18  Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is a crucial skill to deal with difficulties and find reasonable solutions. Entrepreneurs must be adept at identifying and establishing the identity of problems, examining their essential elements, and understanding interrelationships to discover underlying causes.

✅ How to improve it: Improve problem-solving by engaging in exercises that simulate the real-world problems you may face. Conduct simulations that are either tabletop exercises, a functional one, or a field exercise. This may involve conflict resolution role-play, customer service scenarios, and sales role-play scenarios. Learn from case studies about how existing problems were solved.


  19   Communication & People Skills

Communication and people skills play a pivotal role in the operational efficiency of startups. The ability to convey information effectively ensures that everyone is on the same page, contributing significantly to making things happen in the organization. Effective communication is essential for fostering collaboration and practical work.

It also helps resolve conflicts by facilitating clear and precise dialogue, preventing misunderstandings that could lead to wasted time or resources.

✅ How to improve it: Communication skills can be improved through active listening. Be clear in your communication and be concise in your expressions, avoiding repetition and superfluous details. Develop emotional intelligence by understanding yourself and your team members, and encourage open and transparent communication that is free of judgement, so everyones ideas are heard and positive feedback boosts everyones abilities.


  20   Empathy

Empathy is critical for effective leadership for entrepreneurs, teamwork, and customer service in the startup landscape. It involves understanding, being aware of, and experiencing the feelings and thoughts of others, playing a significant role in making things happen within the organization. Demonstrating empathy fosters a positive and collaborative working environment because team members who feel understood and supported are more likely to contribute their best efforts.

Moreover, empathy in customer service enhances the relationship between startups and their clientele, ensuring a more responsive and customer-centric approach.

✅ How to improve it: Improve empathy by practicing active listening with both team members, at networking events, with professionals, when receiving feedback, and when working with customers. This will keep you present in all interactions, enriching your experience and connections with other people. Ask questions to understand others’ perspectives, which will give you deep insight into many new topics, and will boost your relationships with others.


People Also Ask These Questions About How To Improve Founder Skills

Q: What do founders struggle with?

  • A: Founders struggle with developing a product or service that begins with a small budget. They struggle with staying focused and making necessary improvements and adjustments. Furthermore, they struggle with making important business connections and learning necessary skills that contribute to business growth.

Q: In what ways can founders cultivate a strong company culture from the start?

  • A: Founders can cultivate a strong company culture from the start by enacting open communication. At the start, new ideas and improvements can be discovered by every team member, and any one of them can be valuable.

Q: What resources are available for founders looking to broaden their skill sets?

  • A: Founders looking to broaden their skill sets can use the resources of professional development newsletters, attending networking events, receiving feedback from professionals, and by taking classes.

Q: How can founders balance the need for strategic planning with the flexibility to adapt to change?

  • A: Founders can balance the need for strategic planning with the flexibility to adapt to change by keeping a fixed end goal in mind. With that end goal, do market research and analysis, and create short term goals. These short term goals can be flexible.

Q: How can founders stay ahead with technology and innovation trends?

  • A: Founders can stay ahead with technology and innovation trends by learning about relevant tech and innovation. Great ways to do this are to network and learn what other professionals are using, and to read about what other companies view as the latest innovative trends.

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