When you hear the word ‘entrepreneur’ you might picture a roomful of “Apprentice” contestants and think you have nothing in common with them. There’s more of a connection than you think.
A number of skills and attitudes entrepreneurs gain through their business ventures (both successful and unsuccessful), employers consider extremely valuable. So it’s worth taking a page out of their book and embracing some entrepreneurial thinking.
Keep reading to learn about five of the most sought-after transferable skills entrepreneurs gain. Just as important, learn how you can cultivate them to make yourself more employable.
The key elements of resilience are: regrouping and looking forward after a setback, learning and growing from adversity, evolving and looking for opportunities.
Entrepreneurial thinking means utilizing resiliency in order to recover from setbacks. Because you encounter many: rejections, loss of funding, logistical and employee issues to name but a few. Having a resilient mindset means they will keep going under pressure, pick themselves up after they fall. It also means they learn from the experience and move on. They don’t crumble under the circumstances, dwell on the negativity and repeat their mistakes.
Resilience is an invaluable life skill in general. In the workplace it is especially sought after because of the pressures many jobs involve regularly. An employee who copes well with, and easily bounces back from, setbacks is a valuable staff member who can be relied on.
How you can become more resilient? | Since no one goes through life completely free of obstacles, resilience is of course partly developed by simply experiencing life. But there are a few ways you can work on improving your resilience. A useful start is making sure to take care of yourself to keep your normal stress levels to a minimum, so you are better equipped to cope with larger stresses when they come up. It is also good idea to practice mindfulness and develop mental agility.
According to Fortune, curiosity is one of the most important skills Millennials need in the workplace. Aside from the obvious desire to know more about something, it also involves being in new situations and doing something differently than usual.
Curiosity is a key part of entrepreneurial thinking. Because, in part, entrepreneurs have strong need to explore further. For many, this is a reason they started their own business in the first place. By asking questions and pushing boundaries, they often discover completely new options and solutions.
Employers value this trait too. It demonstrates enthusiasm to learn and an ambition to improve both oneself and the company. This trait also provides insight into the personality of the prospective employee: for example being comfortable in new situations and quick to learn new skills, and a creative and innovative mindset.
How you can become more curious? | To adopt a more curious approach, simply start asking more questions! Research anything new you encounter and put yourself into new situations (this also shows employers you’re adaptable). Switch something up, or even just try a different genre of books or TV series. In general: escape your current comfort zones.
While looking for an internship or job hunting, you can easily demonstrate your curiosity by asking questions at the end of an interview. Make a list beforehand. Think of some insightful questions based on the conversation throughout interviews, too. This shows you think well on your feet.
It’s important to take risks since otherwise everything will stay the same. Not all risks are created equal, however, and there are some which are just not worth pursuing. So while risk-taking is applauded, the ability to weigh up risks and choose carefully is key.
For entrepreneurs running their own business, being able to take calculated risks is often a sink or swim situation. One where decisions can have serious implications on the survival of their venture. Even if you have a regular paycheck, your employer will value your ability to take risks that may benefit the company while still considering its resources and reputation.
How you can become better at taking risks? | The best way to ‘practice’ is to purposefully encounter risks as often as possible. It’s in our nature to avoid risks. So, when we come across any we often perform badly for lack of experience. We can program ourselves to make better (and quicker) decisions by becoming used to taking small, controlled risks on a regular basis.
For larger risks, research is vital. Which factors could result in a negative outcome, and can you get any clues to this probability? Try to anticipate scenarios and outcomes, and plan what you would do in each case. Entrepreneurial thinking means being ready to change course and adapt. It also means deciding when to back down if the risk becomes too high for the potential reward.
Drive to Keep Learning
An employee who continues to educate themselves and stays on top of changes in their industry will probably go places. On the other hand, an employee who never puts in the extra effort will likely always be viewed by employers as one who does the bare minimum required.
Entrepreneurial thinking never stands still. This is in part because they can’t stop improving themselves if they want to stay in business. They also know this drive is an intrinsic part of their personality.
How to keep learning | There are countless ways to keep learning and improving thanks to the availability of free resources, from online courses and apps and podcasts to TED talks.
Go to local industry talks to learn about the work of individual businesses, trends and more. (Meetup and Eventbrite are a great place to start looking. The networking these events often involve could introduce you to a potential mentor or even an internship!)
Reading or watching industry news is another simple way to broaden your knowledge. Track the major publications on social media for the sector that interest you most. You’ll learn interesting snippets and wow a hiring manager!
Want to find interesting articles that will keep you up-to-date with the business world in general? Follow pages such as Fortune Magazine and The Economist. And keep an eye on the online presence of any companies you are specifically interested in working for.
Persuasion is a fairly self-explanatory skill. But it is one which makes all the difference when used well. Persuading someone that you are the right person for the job and for their company, for instance.
Entrepreneurial thinking is always selling yourself in some fashion – you are your business, your brand, and your product. And you need to persuade potential investors, customers and mentors to buy into your ideas. Same goes for when ou must persuade employers to consider your ‘brand’ when job searching.
Employers value the ability to convince. Why? Because they want you to persuade other people (customers and employees) to buy into their brand, stance or reasoning. So it’s important to practice this skill both in writing and face-to-face.
How to become better at persuasion | There is a lot of advice on how to become more persuasive. The common denominators include:
- Researching, rehearsing, and practicing in real life situations
- Building rapport including body language, pitch/speed, attentiveness, careful listening, repeating points, positive language and subtle compliments
- Knowing the audience and speaking their language, acknowledging their point of view
- Not being pushy, and knowing when to step back, but not being timid (avoiding “I think”, “isn’t it?” and “you know?”)
- Asking good questions, bringing concepts to life
The Bottom Line
Maybe you feel like the closest you’ve come to being an entrepreneur is that time you helped out at a bake sale. Still, in the world of work entrepreneurial thinking is considered invaluable.
It’s worth spending time developing this mindset and enhancing your skills to make yourself more employable.
Examine your attitudes about resilience, persuasiveness, the drive to keep learning, risk-taking and curiosity. Then work on consciously adopting and demonstrating these to potential (or current) bosses. In the end, that is how to stand out in a sea of applicants for an internship, role or promotion.
Chris Smith is a writer and blogger. He has written for a number of publications, including The Guardian, The Telegraph, GoDaddy and Huffington Post. He writes about sports and finance on his website Spend It Like Beckham.