by George Huang on November 18, 2011
Last week, I wrote about what I think are practical skills that any entrepreneur needs to develop, acquire, or hire into their business. I wrote about the first four, which are listed below in Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1, and provided recommended resources. I’ve since refined that list and added one more: Turnkey Systemization.
1. Time and Productivity Management
5. Business Financial Management, including interpreting financial statements
6. Verbal Presentation Skills
7. Written Presentation Skills
8. Visual Presentations Skills
9. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
10. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
11. Turnkey Systemization
Today, I’m going to describe the next four critical skillsets:
- Business Financial Management, including interpreting financial statements
- Verbal Presentation Skills
- Written Presentation Skills
- Visual Presentations Skills
Business Financial Management, Including How to Read Financial Statements
If you’re going to run any business, ultimately you have to become profitable. That means you have to learn how to manage business finances. A great place to start is by learning how to read business financial statements.
When I started out in the business world, I had no idea what a P&L was or to do with a Balance Sheet. My accountant and other professionals tossed these terms around as if I should have been born knowing this stuff already. It took me a while to figure out that a “P&L” or “Profit and Loss Statement” was the same thing as an “Income Statement.” And it’s one thing to understand the “lingo,” but another completely different thing to figure out what the numbers are telling you.
Once I set out to understand the “lingo” and how to interpret financial statement, I ran into further frustration: Many of the books on the subject were either poorly written, assuming the reader understood “financial street talk” or skipped fundamental steps, or they contained frank errors in their explanations!
Out of my own frustration with this experience, I created a plain English training on the basics of understanding financial statements. I’ll dust it off, if there’s enough interest. Just enter your email address here to let me know you’re interested.
Pricing Based on Value
I’ve written a lot about pricing over the past few months. Whether it’s a product or service, most entrepreneurs don’t understand how to set their prices and fees. The key to pricing starts with clarifying the value – the specific outcomes, improvements, results, and experiences – that you provide through your services and products. Then flip that around and ask yourself, “What are the outcomes, improvements, results, and experiences that people won’t get if they don’t use your products and services?”
Verbal Presentation Skills
If you want to inspire support and enthusiasm for your vision, you’ll need to be effective at persuading people in seeing what you see. If you study the great leaders of the world, regardless of personality and style, have mastered the ability to motivate using their words. Just do an internet search for Martin Luther King (“I Have a Dream”) or Ronald Reagan (“Challenger Disaster Address”).
I know that a lot of people join Toastmasters to learn how to present. While I don’t have direct experience with this organization, I’ve heard good things about them.
But there’s so much more to being effective in your speaking, whether it’s one-on-one or one-to-millions. Singers and stage performers call this “stage presence.”
From a practical standpoint, most entrepreneurs aren’t going to study acting or singing in order to become more effective in their speaking. So you know where a great place to learn verbal presentation skills? From a radio talk show host. Really.
You see in radio, you don’t see people’s faces. So when you’re on the air, you have to be really tuned into the nuance of your voice – tone, volume, inflection, delivery cadence, pauses, breathing, and even body posture and gestures.
If you’re interested, I happen to know a great radio talk show host, Wayne Kelly. Wayne co-hosts the Wayne and Jayne Show in British Columbia. It’s not listed on his website, but if you contact him through http://www.onairpublicity.com/, he can help you develop a powerful “on-air” presence that will serve you in any and all conversations and presentations.
Written Presentation Skills
Most writers are not born that way. At least in my career, I haven’t seen a single newborn baby who could write. So get over it, if you are saying to yourself, “But I’m not a very good writer.” Writing clearly and in a way that compels the reader is a skill that can be developed. Now there are different types of writing, but here, I’m talking about writing compelling marketing copy and education-based marketing material.
Writing well means telling a story that engages the reader and pulls them along. Joe Sugarman, the mail order maverick from the 70’s and 80’s, was an early pioneer and master of marketing by telling stories. Here are a couple of great places to start: Triggers: 30 Sales Tools you can use to Control the Mind of your Prospect to Motivate, Influence and Persuade
Visual Presentation Skills
I used to think that all you needed to be successful was good verbal and writing skills. But the advent of high-speed internet becoming more ubiquitous has made it important to be able to communicate your vision through online presentations, video, and slide-sharing.
When it comes to a resource that lays out the essentials of what you need to know, I recommend Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte.
Next time, I’ll write about the remaining practical skills that every entrepreneur needs to have:
- Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
- Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
- Turnkey Systemization
Until then, let’s hear from you. What other practical skills do you think are critical to the success of an entrepreneur?