The essential business skills graduates are missing

Todays graduates are entering the workplace with university degrees and plenty of ambition – but according to employers, it’s just not enough.

Although know-how, commercial awareness and tech skills are all essential in the modern workplace, they aren’t defining factors for success. Instead there are a few key qualities that come highly regarded by employers, and it looks like today’s graduates struggle to meet the mark when it comes to one key skillset: entrepreneurialism.

A recent study found more than a third (37%) of employers think graduates are missing the key entrepreneurial skills that will take them to success. Despite this, the majority of grads (79%) are confident they already possess these skills. 

According to the study, 54% of graduates believe they are proactively working to develop their entrepreneurial skills. Despite this, more than half (51%) of employers still think there’s work to be done to help graduates reach their full potential.

What is entrepreneurialism?

When picturing an entrepreneur, often a charismatic, self-made CEO comes time mind. However, it’s not always about big personalities or taking a business from start-up to success.

Entrepreneurial skills are useful at every level of your career, although it’s not always recognised for what it is when you’re working within a business setting. Whether it’s your sales manager, an account director or even a fresh-faced graduate, this skillset is a huge driving force for growth and progression.

Entrepreneurial skills are useful at every level of your career, although it’s not always recognised for what it is when you’re working within a business setting.

Without interpersonal skills, creativity and drive it would be very hard to progress from a junior position, so it’s important the graduates of today nail down entrepreneurialism from the get go.

What are entrepreneurial skills?

Entrepreneurialism isn’t an easy thing to pin down. Whether it’s incredible selling abilities, someone who’s willing to take risks or a creative flare, it can be hard to define exactly what it is that makes someone an excellent entrepreneur.

However, one thing is certain, it doesn’t boil down to just one thing or a matter of genetic makeup – it’s a culmination of a number of essential soft skills. The ability to build relationships, communicate and work as part of a team is all essential to progressing in the world of business – and that’s a huge part of being an entrepreneur.

The key entrepreneurial soft skills include:

  • Communication. The ability to express yourself, your ideas and plans to others is invaluable in business. By understanding your colleagues and clients you can build relationships. Mastering both verbal and written communication is key.
  • Vision and drive. Looking to the future and finding the direction for your growth and your business is an essential part of being an entrepreneur. It shows commercial acumen, but also a determination to succeed.
  • Resilience. The ability to take failure or criticism and bounce back shows focus and grit. No successful business person has had a completely smooth ride, so this trait is something everyone should master when starting out in their career.
  • Creative thinking and problem solving. Thinking outside of the box and approaching issues in new, creative ways is essential to building businesses and is what drives change and progress.  
  • Negotiation. Working out terms of an agreement with a client is the final step before making a sale. It’s a combination of communication skills, creative thinking and resilience, and it’s all part of being an entrepreneur.
  • Leadership qualities. Leading a team and taking ownership of a project is all part of the natural progression in business and it’s something every entrepreneur has to do at some point or another. People make businesses and to succeed, you must be able to manage them,

By mastering these soft skills you can complement your natural entrepreneurial abilities.

How to build on entrepreneurial skills

Often soft skills are associated with charisma, and a lot of the time people assume you’re either born with it or you’re not. Whether it’s the gift of the gab or easy confidence, these abilities are often attributed to personality.

While an agreeable personality is a beneficial trait, it’s not the be all and end all for success in business. With the right soft skills in your arsenal, you can complement your natural abilities and build on your entrepreneurialism.

Just like any other skillset, soft skills and entrepreneurialism can be improved dramatically with the right kind of training. Everything from communication to negotiation can be developed and practised to reinforce this important set of attributes.

Whether you’re are the beginning of your career or at the top, hard work and training is always a fantastic way to further develop your current skillset. It is also a way for young graduates to bridge the skills gap and become the candidate the employers of today are looking for. 


About the author

Jonathan Fitchew is CEO of Pareto Law TJ magazine free


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