10 Entrepreneurial Skills Every Startup Founder Should Have

10 Entrepreneurial Skills Every Startup Founder Should Have

The only difference between a great business idea and a great startup business is making the decision to go for it. This can feel like you are standing on the edge of a tall diving board debating whether to take the plunge. If you are contemplating jumping in the water, knowing what entrepreneurial skills are essential for success will help determine if you are ready to embark on this new journey. 


Why are entrepreneurial skills so important? 


When you first transition from working for a larger organization to becoming a startup business owner, you experience a lot of exciting, new freedoms. What is also new is no longer having a full team of people with interdisciplinary skills to accomplish projects and reach goals. 

Acquiring essential entrepreneurial skills will prepare you for the road ahead, especially in the beginning stages. When starting out, you truly are a jack or jill of all trades. 


What are the essential entrepreneurial skills for success?


1. Perseverance

Every startup will experience some form of roadblock, rejection, mistakes, failure, and slow progress. These experiences do not determine the fate of your business, but how you react and deal with them can. The ability to persevere through harder times with resilience, optimism, and determination is arguably the most important skill to have as an entrepreneur, and it will ensure that you can keep your eye on growing your business no matter what scenario is thrown your way.

2. People Skills

It does not matter what type of business you will have or what industry or sector you will be in – well-developed people skills will always be critical for success. 

Whether you are working with a team, corresponding with customers, or acquiring investors, knowing how to properly and effectively communicate and work with people will prove to be an essential part of running your business. 


3. Passion

If you do not strongly love and believe in your startup’s product, service, or purpose, you will not have the same drive to reach success. 

Passion is the only essential skill that cannot be taught, and it is a key ingredient that will not only help lead to success, but it will make your startup journey so much more enjoyable.

When we refer to passion, we are not saying you need to be head over heels with your business every minute of every day. In fact, there will probably be weeks where you feel deflated. What is important is that overall you have a huge desire to turn your once great idea into a viable business.

4. Communication

Learning how to communicate clearly, effectively, and creatively is what will set you apart as a brand or the next big investment opportunity. 

As a startup, networking is a large part of growing a business and forming important connections, but if you do not know how to communicate what sets your brand apart from the competition and why there is a need for your product in the market, you will find it very difficult to win over new customers, investors, and potential new hires.

5. Time Management

This skill cannot be emphasized enough. Learning how to effectively manage your time will keep you working toward your goals and not becoming easily swallowed up by day-to-day operations.

Time management can be a tricky skill to master when it feels like you have a million things to do, but it will provide you with work-life balance which will lead to you being happier, more focused, and rejuvenated to give your best ideas and efforts toward your business.

6. Sales

Sales never end as an entrepreneur. You are constantly selling yourself and your business to everyone you meet whether it is a formal networking event, investor pitch, or you strike up a conversation with someone in public.

As a startup business owner, you are the first salesperson at your company, and you must acquire sales skills to initially get your business off the ground.

7. Ability to Learn

Entrepreneurs are constantly learning. You may have advanced technical expertise, but do you have any experience with marketing or accounting?

When you are first starting out, you will need to embrace the idea of lifelong learning and being open to trying your hand at many new skills to run your business. 

Once you reach a certain level of success, you will be able to recruit team members with skill sets and expertise that will be an asset to your startup’s growth. Even once your company has added many team members, you will constantly run into new concepts and things to learn to lead your business in the right direction.

8. Teamwork and Leadership

The skill of working well in a team and leadership are typically referenced separately. However, with entrepreneurship, we feel these two skills are so closely linked that they should be placed together.

At a large corporation, there is a substantial division between team members (employees) and leadership (management). At a newly-formed startup business, teamwork exists daily between business owners and their employees as there are very few people to accomplish many goals.

Strong leadership skills are essential at any stage of growth but don’t forget that having strong teamwork in place will not only make you a better leader, but it will form a healthy work environment that will be most effective at achieving your goals. 

9. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking skills are synonymous with entrepreneurial skills – they are required to develop business strategy, problem solve, rethink the effectiveness of projects, and look at situations from varying perspectives. 

Critical thinking skills are also necessary for strategic planning and knowing when change should occur to improve your business. 

10. Finance Management

Having financial skills does not mean you need to be an accountant. Financial management in this context means that you know how to create a startup budget and understand startup business taxes.

When it comes down to it, if an entrepreneur has many great skills but does not have any in the department of finance management, the business will be in trouble. 


How do you develop entrepreneurial skills?


After reading our list of essential skills, you may realize that there are a few that you may need to work on. Not to worry! It is rare that someone has all of the necessary skills when launching a business.

Here are 5 recommended ways to refine your entrepreneurial skills:

  • Network with other entrepreneurs and industry professionals 

Learn what your peers and industry professionals are doing. This can provide great insights!

  • Find a startup mentor

A fantastic way to develop the skills you need is to connect with a startup mentor.

  • Learn from a variety of sources

There are many books, articles, webinars, Ted Talks, and magazines that are rich in reliable and educational information. You may also consider registering for a course.

  • Attend industry or skill-based events

Find out about upcoming conferences, seminars, or online events that can refine your knowledge and skills. 

  • Research the benefits of joining a startup incubator

Startup incubators are great organizations that help entrepreneurs develop a wide range of skills to help their businesses become successful.



How to use entrepreneurial skills to run your startup business?


When you begin running a business, you may have more advanced entrepreneurial skills than you think.

However, sometimes when you’re into the day-to-day operations of your startup, it can be easy for the essential skills to be forgotten.

Try to revisit this list of essential skills regularly and evaluate in which areas you are excelling and others where you could improve. 

The key is to remember that no one is perfect, even seasoned entrepreneurs. The idea is to always practice these skills until they become natural in your daily routine.

8 Productivity Hacks for Entrepreneurs to Be Successful

8 Productivity Hacks for Entrepreneurs to Be Successful

It feels great completing a project or task. You feel extremely accomplished like you are making real progress. But this moment is often followed by the realization that three more tasks now need to be done, and it feels like you are always taking one step forward and then three steps back. This feeling is common amongst entrepreneurs, but the key is to learn how to best allocate your time. To help you stay focused and keep your eye on what’s important, we are sharing 8 productivity hacks for entrepreneurs that will help you be more efficient and successful.


How can entrepreneurs increase productivity? 


1. Stop creating to-do lists.


First things first, cancel the idea of to-do lists. You may think they help you stay on track, but they actually just end up making you feel more overwhelmed. We suggest taking your current to-do list and transitioning it onto a calendar. 

Begin with one project. Estimate how long it will take you to complete it from start to finish. Then place the project on your calendar, working back from when it needs to be finalized. 

If the project will require multiple days, weeks, or even months, schedule time each day to work on it. This will keep you on track, not overwhelmed, and meet your target deadline.


2. Multitasking accomplishes less, not more.


Startup business owners always have a lot on their minds and several projects on the go. As much it may seem that juggling multiple tasks is getting more accomplished, the opposite is true.

Multitasking disrupts your attention and thought process. As a result, you are giving subpar effort to multiple projects rather than exceptional work to one. 


Schedule projects on your calendar (as outlined in # 1) so you can give your full attention to one project at a time.


3. Delegating is easier than you think.


Passing the baton to others can be scary. After all, as a startup owner, your business is your baby. However, your company cannot continue to grow when you try to do everything on your own. 

Consider if you are ready to hire more team members that can help lighten your load. Hiring team members as a startup opens up a great opportunity to add new skill sets to your company, and you can acquire people who have expertise in areas that you don’t necessarily have.  


4. Urgent tasks should not always come first. 


Does this one come as a surprise? The truth is, many of us stress or panic when a job is labelled as ‘urgent’ by a client or team member. But urgent does not always mean it should become YOUR highest priority. It is all about balance.

It is of course important to deliver high-quality customer service and work well in a team, but sometimes dropping something important you need to work on is not productive for the company. 


5. The word ‘No’ should be a staple in your vocabulary.


‘No’ is a difficult word for many people to spit out, but using it when necessary can be the difference between you being productive and not. 

Often startup owners are pulled in many different directions, and their time is being demanded by too many people all at once. In these situations, the word ‘no’ is necessary so you can stay focused on your goals and what will truly make a difference toward your business’ success.


6. Schedule time for emails and messages.


As you are scheduling projects and tasks in your calendar, also schedule daily time slots for you to check and respond to emails, social media messages, or other platforms that may be important for your business.

We suggest scheduling 3 short time slots daily, approximately 10-20 minutes each, keeping strict to your time slot as it is easy to get sucked in by emails. Proper email management is something that can be a game-changer for your productivity. 


7. Being detail-oriented can be a major con.

Being described as a detail-oriented person is commonly viewed as being a positive quality, and it certainly can be. But being extremely detailed can also lead to productivity issues.

When you begin tackling a task or project, consider how important it is to your overall business goals. This will guide you on how much time you should spend on it. Remember, it is ok for things to not be perfect, especially the more minor things. 


8. Taking care of your mental health always benefits your business.


Simply put, if your mental health begins to suffer, so will your business. Maintaining good mental health is so important as an entrepreneur. Make sure you take time for yourself, exercise, and eat well, all of which contribute to your overall mental well-being. 

Contrary to what some people may think, working longer hours does not actually make you more productive – but having a good work-life balance will. When you prioritize time for family, hobbies, and self-care, it actually will make you happier and more focused. This leads to a higher quality of work and allows you to come back to work with fresh ideas and new perspectives.

Lastly, getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per day is a game-changer not only for productivity but for your physical and mental health. You may think working until 2 am is getting a lot accomplished, but if you need to be up by 6:00 am for your busy day ahead, your late night is not doing you any favours.

Embracing these productivity hacks will not only make your life easier, but it will set you up to grow your startup business more efficiently and quickly!

Best Recruitment Process for Startups: 7 Dos and Don’ts to Hire a Strong Team

Best Recruitment Process for Startups: 7 Dos and Don’ts to Hire a Strong Team

In the beginning stages of launching and operating a startup business, commonly startup founder(s) are doing it all; product development, attracting investors, sales, marketing, bookkeeping, and everything in between. However, when your startup reaches a certain level of success, hiring is essential to continue your growth as it will become impossible to do everything on your own. We have compiled the top dos and don’ts to follow that create the best recruitment process for startups.


What are the challenges of the recruitment process for startups?


Hiring as a startup comes with its own unique set of challenges such as budget limitations and difficulties attracting the right people. When your desirable candidates are considering all of their job options, they will weigh the differences between working for a startup and working for a more established business. 

A few notable differences could be:

  • Modest Compensation vs. Competitive Compensation
  • Continual Change vs. Steady Routine
  • Unpredictable Projects vs. Structured Job Responsibilities
  • Feeling Worried About Job Security vs. Comfortable  
  • Unorthodox Working Hours vs. Standard Working Hours


What is the best hiring process for a startup?


If you have prior experience working for a large company, your idea of how the hiring process works most likely begins with a standard online job posting, an advertised list of sought-after skills and qualifications, followed by a traditional interview process that is primarily facilitated by an HR department.

Due to the differences between startups and larger businesses, you must approach the hiring process more creatively and from a different angle.


7 Dos and Don’ts When Hiring as a Startup Business


To ensure you attract people that are a good fit for your business and will be instrumental in helping you achieve growth and success, there are some dos (and supporting don’ts) when preparing for and carrying out your recruitment process.


1. Build an attractive company.

Did you know that 56% of employees want to contribute more to society? Carefully craft your mission, vision, and values to reflect what your company stands for.


Don’t: Speed through this process. Establishing your ‘Brand DNA’ is at the foundation of everything you do, and job seekers are looking to work for a company that has a clearly defined purpose.


2. Create a standout online presence.

Think outside-the-box on how you can set your company apart. When you come across as truly innovative, you will appeal to people who are seeking to work in that type of environment. As a startup, there are low-cost marketing strategies you can follow that will give you the online presence you are aiming for.


Don’t: Underestimate the power of authenticity. There are many flashy websites and social media profiles out there, but do they accurately and genuinely represent the brand? Make sure your online presence is an extension of your startup.


3. Consider alternative platforms.

Research what platforms other startups in your region are using to build their teams. Often startups find talent in places other than popular job boards.


Don’t: Follow a generic job posting format. There will be nothing that sets your startup apart.


4. Highlight what your business can offer that others can’t.

One of the beautiful advantages of a startup is it can offer a unique work experience and benefits. Think deeply about what you can offer and what sets you apart from an employee’s perspective.


Don’t: Lead with compensation. There is no denying that it is very important, but chances are the compensation you can offer will not outdo larger businesses. Lead with the other benefits you can offer. 


5. Approach Hiring as a Mutual Partnership

Many job seekers feel it is taking a large risk to work for a startup business. For this reason, you should approach the hiring process as a mutual partnership. What they offer you needs to equally match what you can offer them. Be open to collaboration and negotiation with interested parties to ensure both of you are equally happy and excited to work with one another.


Don’t: Focus all messaging on what you are looking for in a candidate. Focus equally on how your startup can help achieve their goals. 


6. Let candidates’ skills and experience help craft new opportunities.

You may not have originally considered including a certain project or skill in your new position, but if the right candidate comes along with valuable ideas and suggestions, staying open can lead to amazing opportunities.


Don’t: Base hiring decisions solely on years of experience or academic qualifications. This is not to say these details can’t factor into your hiring process, but isn’t it true that some of the best entrepreneurial minds have taken the road less travelled? Non-traditional candidates can often end up being an asset to your team.


7. Attitude and outlook count for a lot.

You can teach an employee new skills, you can’t teach them personality or characteristics. Keep an eye out for people who are positive, driven, determined, self-reliant, and love learning new things.


Don’t: Form opinions of people off a formal interaction. Traditional first interviews can be stiff and not bring out an interviewee’s true colours. Because you are a startup, you will be working closely together. Try meeting for coffee for an informal discussion to get to know the person. This can set a more relaxed and natural environment.


Beginning preparations and planning to hire a new team member is often a brand new process for new startup business owners. It may seem overwhelming and you want to make sure you are doing things correctly.

Joining a startup incubator is a fantastic way to receive support, knowledge, and guidance through the hiring process along with countless other elements that you will need to learn as a startup business owner.


How do you manage work-life balance as a startup?

How do you manage work-life balance as a startup?

We have all heard the term ‘work-life balance’ – the goal of maintaining equal harmony between our professional and personal lives. However, when you first launch and grow a startup business, there is often lots to accomplish. In fact, you could easily fill up 24 hours a day with work. So how do you find that sweet spot where neither your business nor personal life suffers? This blog provides tips on how to manage work-life balance as a startup and why it is so important.



What is work-life balance and why is it so important?


As self-explanatory as ‘work-life balance’ may seem, it is hard for many entrepreneurs to achieve in reality. In the simplest of terms, having a good work-life balance is when a person equally prioritizes their career and personal/family life, with neither one consistently being put on the backburner. 

Being a driven startup business owner can lead to fantastic things, but focusing too heavily on work can cause some negative effects such as: 


  • Feeling burnt out and stressed

Maintaining good mental health for entrepreneurs is so important, and often it is not prioritized. 


  • Creating tension at home.

If you live with a partner or spouse, or have children, devoting minimal time to being at home and spending time together can lead to problems. 


  • Dropping hobbies or interests.

When you are working hard to ensure your startup succeeds, things like hobbies or interests tend to easily fall to the wayside. 

Having hobbies actually makes you more productive and energized for when you are focused on work, and keeping them in your life is just as important as working on the next partnership or product launch.


  • Distancing yourself from friends

Having a support system around you is really important, but if you stop putting effort into relationships, that support system you once had may begin to dwindle.



3 Tips on How to Improve Work-life Balance


  • Set strict work hours

As an entrepreneur, it is easy to go down a work rabbit hole. One more hour turns into four more hours, and before you know it it’s 1:00 a.m. Setting strict working hours will lead to many benefits, including making you happier and more creative. 

Remember that those emails will always be there when you come back. Often taking a much-needed 5, 10, or 30-minute break will lead to a better response.

Setting strict working hours also means learning how to implement better time management skills, so the hours you do work are meaningful and productive. 


  • Schedule time for loved ones

Balancing work life and home life is important. Making sure you schedule time with family and friends will allow you to not only maintain healthy relationships, but it will naturally make you feel a higher sense of work-life balance.

Remember to use this time to have FUN! When we take life too seriously, we forget to enjoy ourselves and our loved ones. By sharing time purposefully with others we reinvigorate our confidence and can feel recharged to work hard on that pending project.


  • Practice self-care

Every person finds relaxation in different ways. Common activities include exercising, reading, meditation, gardening, a hobby, or simply having quiet time alone. Prioritizing time for yourself may seem irrelevant when you have a million items on your to-do list, but in the end having time for yourself will prove to be beneficial at work and for your overall well-being. 



Working more hours does not lead to greater success


Putting in long hours may seem like the logical thing to do when you are really busy, but this extra time and energy is not putting you any further ahead.

Stanford University economics professor, John Pencavel, conducted a study that found that productivity per hour heavily declines after a person works 50 hours a week. In fact, he found that those who work up to 70 hours are equally productive as those who work 55 hours. 



How do you start implementing a work-life balance?


Overall, our message is simple: Do your best. We know juggling being an entrepreneur and perhaps also being a spouse or a parent can be very challenging, but making an effort to balance all areas of your life will not only make you a better entrepreneur, but it will make you happier.

It is always about progress rather than perfection. Don’t expect to find this balance right away if this is your first time trying to implement these tips. It is about consistency and exploring what works for you, what feels GOOD. Enjoy the journey of finding your balance. You will not regret it!

Joining a startup incubator is an effective way to see progress and organize your workload. Startup incubators mentor and guide you on how to best operate your business, prioritize goals, and manage the challenges that are unique to entrepreneurship. 

For more information and tips on how to achieve a work-life balance, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association.


6 Tips For Startup Business Taxes in Canada

6 Tips For Startup Business Taxes in Canada

Millions of Canadians work as employees at organizations and are used to filing standard annual income taxes —a fairly straightforward process for most people. As a new startup business owner, there are now new things to consider, know, and keep track of. 


We have provided 6 tips for startup business taxes to make this easy to navigate.


1. Know what expenses you can claim

When you are first getting your business off the ground, there are startup expenses you incur that are necessary for your business to operate. Many reasonable and legitimate expenses can be claimed as business startup tax deductions. Some of these items may include:


  • Equipment and Technology
  • Supplies
  • Business fees and licenses
  • Vehicle expenses
  • Legal and accounting fees
  • Insurance


2. Stay organized and TRACK EVERYTHING

One of the biggest tax tips we can provide to entrepreneurs is to always be organized. From every business expense to income earned, keep receipts and detailed records. The importance of keeping good records cannot be overstated enough for a few reasons: 


  1. It is required by law to keep all records. Be aware of your responsibilities and how long you must keep records for, which is generally for a period of six years from the end of the last tax year they relate to.
  2. It will make your life a lot easier and less stressful when it comes time to file your taxes. 
  3. In the event you are audited by the Canada Revenue Agency, having clear and organized records will make this process much easier than if you cannot account for your business activities.


3. Be informed of all available tax credits

As a small business startup, tax credits can go a long way. Become familiar with all tax credits you are eligible for which may include:


  • Canada Caregiver Credit
  • Health Spending Account (HSA)
  • Disability Tax Credit
  • Canada Child Benefit


4. Balance your Dividend/Salary Mix 

As a startup business, you can withdraw money from your company either as a dividend or salary. Paying yourself a healthy salary provides an opportunity to maximize your RRSP, but you may also want to take out part of your pay as a dividend to take advantage of a lower tax rate. Knowing how to balance the two can maximize your earnings, but you must be aware that every startup business owner’s circumstances are different. What may be a great decision for one person may not be as smart for another.


5. Consider Income Splitting

Many startup business owners choose to pay family members a salary, as any salary paid out will count as a business deduction. However, the salary must be reasonable in relation to the position your family holds at your company. For example, a typical entry-level position should not be earning a salary that is well over the average in your region.


6. Determine what is best for your budget 

In the past you may have been an employee and taxes were deducted from every pay. This hopefully resulted in no large sum of taxes due at the end of the year. Now as a startup business owner, this does not happen. It is your job to determine what fits best within your startup budget. You may want to consider paying income taxes every month to avoid one large payment. This can be set up with the CRA and can be easier to manage throughout the year. 


Where do you find help with startup business taxes?


From year to year, there can be changes to tax law and tax credits available to startups. To keep up-to-date, we recommend choosing a CPA firm that understands startups and can advise you on what is best for your business.


In addition to acquiring the services of a tax professional, having a startup mentor is a great way to learn from someone who has been where you are in your journey, or has expertise to advise you to make smart choices. A startup incubator has experienced mentors, fantastic programs, knowledge, and opportunities to help you plan for startup taxes and aid in your company’s overall growth and success.



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