SME Owner, Entrepreneur or CEO: 10 Soft Skills Successful Business Owners Use

Written by; Odeyemi Victor

SME Owner, Entrepreneur or CEO: 10 Soft Skills Successful Business Owners Use
Delmaine Donson | Credit: Getty Images


AI can replace our jobs, but it won’t replace humanity. In a world being overrun by the increased use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots for the replacement of human workers, there’s a gap in skillsets that would not be immediately bridged by robots. These sets of skills are known as soft skills.

Soft skills are non-negotiable for every entrepreneur aiming for business success, especially businesses operating in physical locations.

Hard skills and soft skills are complementary to the success of any business, every entrepreneur must hone skills outside of hard skills necessary for the survival and success of the business.

Business owners must ensure they and their employees are equipped with the soft skills to achieve the goals of the business.

Soft Skills Vs Hard Skills

What is a soft skill?

Soft skills are personal attributes that support situational awareness and enhance an individual’s ability to get a job done.

What is a hard skill?

Hard skills are teachable and measurable abilities employees need to perform their job efficiently. E.g such as writing, web development, or graphics design.

This blog post expands on the 10 most crucial soft skills for Nigerian entrepreneurs. Especially if you run a physical store, these skills would be beneficial to your business.

10 Soft Skills for SME Owners and Entrepreneurs

1. Good Decision-making

There’s a saying that we are the product of our decisions. At the crux of every successful business, you find good decisions. Business owners must develop the art of making significant decisions, not just the art of taking risks. Decisions whether hard, smart, or quick are factors for a growing business. Other skills related to excellent decision-making are critical thinking, delegation of duties, employment of qualified staff and experts etc.

2. Communication

Good communication leads to customer retention. Effective communication is a must-have skill for a company’s workforce. Excellent communication is an opportunity to convince customers your brand is the go-to option for their preferred needs. It is an avenue to show you understand what they mean instead of what they are simply saying. Some of these skills include listening attentively to your customers’ needs, speaking clearly, responding effectively, efficiently, and politely.

3. Leadership

How important is Leadership to an Entrepreneur? Leaders are responsible for decision-making – it’s this simple. Leaders help to establish an environment that is conducive to success, by encouraging communication and teamwork among team members. They also provide direction and vision, inspire and motivate people to achieve the organization’s goals.

4. Emotional Intelligence

You don’t need to be the smartest person in the world to be the most successful, a study says. Emotional Intelligence also known as emotional quotient is the ability to detect and understand one’s emotions as well as others in order to manage situations, empathize with others, solve challenges and defuse conflicts.

As an entrepreneur, interaction with people is inevitable as a daily occurrence. Asides from the excellence vested in the services you offer, equipping yourself and demonstrating emotional intelligence in relations with your employees and customers would further augment the success of your business.

In reference to the introduction of this blog post, emotional intelligence is one of the gaps that would not be filled by AI. Some skills related to emotional intelligence are negotiation, conflict resolution e.t.c

5. Networking

Ivan Misner, Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of Business Network International (BNI), also known as the ‘Father of Modern Networking’, says networking is crucial to creating business opportunities.

Networking entails building relationships and maintaining contact with other people. The benefits of networking are numerous to smart entrepreneurs including

  • Establishing valuable connections with potential business partners
  • Expanding your knowledge
  • Increasing business exposure
  • Gaining access to partnerships and collaborations.

6. Adaptability

COVID-19 crippled and shaped the operations of several businesses. While some businesses survived the pandemic, with over 5,800 businesses in Nigeria shut down.

Some businesses embraced the idea of remote work and engaged in shifts while others invested in digital marketing.

Throughout the lifespan of a business, business owners must learn how to manage the trends, difficulties and changes in our world, discover solutions and how to transform challenges into opportunities for growth.

Adaptability means having the ability to work without constraints and being open to finding unique solutions to unexpected solutions to issues and challenges.

7. Self-discipline

Success is a result of a mix of many things, including discipline. On the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur, you will encounter challenges, setbacks and make sacrifices. Self-discipline helps entrepreneurs prioritize tasks, manage finances, and make decisions necessary to grow their businesses. It allows them to consistently work towards their goals, avoid distractions and make positive habits a routine.

8. Creativity

Creativity is the ability to transcend conventional ways of thinking, to develop new and original ideas, methods or objects.

New ideas are birthed daily while new improvements on existing ideas are executed from time to time. As an entrepreneur, creativity and innovation are very important for you because business challenges require inventive solutions.

The ability to think outside the box and adopt new methods will be required to run a sustainable and successful business.

9. Resilience

Entrepreneurship like any other aspect of life is not a bed of roses. A report shows that at least 80% of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in Africa fail within the first five years of their existence.

To be a resilient entrepreneur would mean you maneuver the numerous challenges that are encountered in business, stick to your business plan and take important decisions as it pertains to the survival and growth of your business.

However, it is easier said than done, not impossible. Resilience can be cultivated as a behavior and practiced as a skill.

10. Motivation

You never can tell the magnitude of what your business can turn into. With the right steps, you can own the business of your dreams. But first, you need to keep yourself and your employees motivated.

Motivation is one soft skill renowned entrepreneurs hone and have mastered over the years, right from humble beginnings. One of the proven secrets to remaining motivated is to continually remind yourself of the bigger picture you aim to achieve.

Motivation is key to getting things done. Sometimes the future may look bleak or gloomy but never forget this is of the secrets to success – keep going!


In conclusion, soft skills are essential for the success of any entrepreneur. Developing these skills requires consistent practice, self-reflection, and a growth mindset.

Entrepreneurs who prioritize their soft skills alongside their technical expertise will be better equipped to navigate the complex and dynamic landscape of entrepreneurship and achieve sustainable success in their ventures.


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