Guest blog post written by Africa.co fellow Ethel Cofie
Wednesday November 19, 2014 marked Women in Entrepreneurship Day (WED) and I celebrated by attending the global entrepreneurship summit in Morocco and as I got ready to judge the women’s pitch event, I wanted to provide a practical guide to aspiring female entrepreneurs on the skills that are essential to have as an entrepreneur before leaving a day job:
Volunteer to fundraise for your favorite charity:
When it comes down to it, a large part of starting and becoming successful as an entrepreneur is the ability to sell, persuade and communicate effectively. This is a muscle every entrepreneur needs to strengthen. So go ahead, volunteer at your local charity to collect funds, think about innovative ways you can get friends, neighbors and coworkers to donate money, resources and or time. Set a goal for yourself as to how many times a month you are going to volunteer and make sure that it is consistent. This will help you in:
- Customer growth and sales. Without sales experience, you are just contributing to a hobby and not actually growing a business.
- Selling your vision to employees in order to evoke a sense of understanding in the company’s core tenets.
- Persuading and selling to venture capitalist. Overall, volunteering is an effective way of learning new skills and utilizing them without the fear of messing up.
Do something out of your comfort zone:
The idea is to push you out of your comfort zone. By doing something that breaks away from your normal routine you are broadening your exposure and your ability to adapt in new, oftentimes difficult, situations. Here are some ideas as to how to get you out of your comfort zone:
- Try going to a conference that has nothing to do with your profession or career.
- Pledge to engage in a conversation with a different stranger each week.
- Take a class or enroll in a certificate program at a local college.
Learn to become a power listener:
There are two things you can do to become a power listener:
- When engaged in dialogue, make a conscious effort not to think about your answer. Give the other person(s) your full attention.
- When it is finally your turn to speak try to wait five seconds before answering. Although, this seems like a weird practice it will help you to think through your response.
Becoming a power listener will serve you well in becoming attuned to customer’s needs and desires. Entrepreneurs who listen to their customer are ultimately winners.
*Story originally published on Ethel Cofie’s website.