March 9, 2021

What do I need to learn to be able to undertake? | Economy

The least complicated part of undertaking may be to find out what to learn in order to launch. A quick search on the Internet returns a whole avalanche of courses, workshops, talks and even masters completely dedicated to the creation of new companies. The literature is immense and if one set out to complete the list of requirements before deciding, one would probably stay a lifetime in that phase of entrepreneurial student. But what is really needed before starting a business? Those who have already gone through it distill a very concrete mixture: a technical knowledge base, with the focus on how to sell and how to do it through the Internet, and a layer of personal skills or soft skills, among which resilience always leads.

“Training and learning are the raw material of the entrepreneur. Much more than money or the idea, ”says Mike Cobián, general partner of The Valley Venture Capital, a mutual fund for start-ups that the business school has launched The valley. “There are millions of humans thinking about ideas all the time, the important thing is execution. And that is based on talent and training. ”

Train, okay, but what? Beyond the specific field in which each project is to be developed, there is a body of transversal notions that is slowly taking shape. And with a duality that is already a constant also in the labor market: that of hard or technical knowledge, on the one hand, and soft or personal skills, for the other. “Before, an entrepreneur could start and learn along the way, but it is true that there is now more and more specific knowledge of entrepreneurship,” says Álvaro Cuesta, founder and head of the production company. start-ups Sonar Ventures.

We have consulted six entrepreneurs and experts on what is needed learn to be able to undertake, an activity to which 6.4% of Spaniards are already engaged, according to the most recent GEM report on entrepreneurship, which is prepared by the GEM Red Spain Association. Here, the experts summarize the knowledge that you are going to need, the skills that you are going to have to develop, the ideal moment to train … and the moment in which you should stop studying if you do not want the training to become the eternal excuse to never throw yourself.

1. What knowledge do I need?

A look at the program of any entrepreneurship program gives an extensive list of concepts: strategy, management, innovation, financing… Cobián sums it up and divides it into two: the sectorial knowledge of the field in which you want to undertake and the knowledge of the digital environment, since the Internet has become the almost mandatory sales channel. “Sector knowledge is what you should bring when undertaking. If for example you want to dedicate yourself to the world of kiosks, you will have to know what actors are in the market, what is their business model, the value chain… ”, abounds. “The knowledge of the channel has the difficulty that there is now a very high sophistication in digital. Before the online marketing or SEO were very simple, but today they are extremely complex. It's about lowering all that to the ground. ”

The objective, in any case, and whatever the project, is to sell. Your idea, your product, your service. Therefore, those who have already traveled the path of entrepreneurship recommend having a good base of marketing and of company. “You have to know how to sell your product and your service, you have to understand your target and know how to communicate your project, that is differential, ”says Jaime Fernández de la Puente, co-founder of Guudjob, a tool for customers to value and recognize directly the employees who provide them with a service, for example a waiter in a cafeteria.

It is also necessary to arm oneself with courage and enter the world of numbers. And although in this part it is advisable to rely on experts, it is also necessary to get a good base to know where you are walking. “One of the greatest technical knowledge is the constitution of the company. The valuation of the company and the financial part is the most tedious and the one that usually generates the most problems, ”says Fernández de la Puente. “Business, business, business. You have to have very clear numbers, ”adds Elena Ibáñez, who after developing her career in the world of the company has decided to launch her own project, Singularity Experts, an orientation tool that uses artificial intelligence to show each person what their ideal profession is.

It also happens that the success in starting a new business demands more and more to know who your customer is in order to model the product or service in the image and likeness of their needs. In a continuous cycle of improvement, in addition. “It is necessary above all to know how to capture needs and to be able to provide solutions,” says Camila Polensvaig, head of Tetuan Valley, a six-week free training program for entrepreneurs that has been operating in Madrid for 10 years.

Therefore, Álvaro Cuesta adds another concept to the mix of technical knowledge: “Agile methodologies, such as Lean Startup or the customer development (customer-oriented development), were previously desirable knowledge but today they are necessary. It is true that you can start without having them, but by necessity you will end up acquiring them. If you lose six months in learning the lesson, maybe your competitors have already eaten you. ”

2. And the skills?

In terms of soft skills, there are two that inevitably appear in the first place whenever you ask what are the soft skills most important for an entrepreneur. First, resilience. This quality to adapt to difficult situations and to return to the initial state after facing an adverse episode is especially useful when setting up a business, “especially if it is digital, because in this environment everything is very exaggerated and volatile,” he warns Cobián "A lot of things happen, good and bad, and they all happen very fast."

And then, perseverance, which sometimes is nothing more than stubbornness and that serves to go through the valley of death, “A period in which the indicators tell you that you should not continue,” explains Cuesta. The problem is that these two skills are not developed by the mere will to want to do it. "There is a part that can be educated, but before undertaking it is necessary to expose yourself to situations in which you receive blows," he adds.

This is especially relevant in the case of women entrepreneurs, still a minority (46.9% versus 53.1% of men, according to the GEM report, although the gender gap is narrowing). "There are studies that ensure that its main barrier is the lack of self-confidence," says Elena Ibáñez. "That confidence is not only given to you to have more knowledge, but to have faced many types of situations and to have come out of them."

More skills for the entrepreneur's backpack. The final goal of the sale requires practicing persuasion and communication. Creativity is also needed, on a large and small scale, since starting from scratch and with little money requires being imaginative in every detail. Empathy, evident to lead a team and also necessary to convince everyone you meet along the way: suppliers, partners, investors, customers …

And collaboration, since the team is key To get a project going. "The idea is worth what it is worth, but the fundamental thing is to know how to develop it and to know with which team to develop it," says José Manuel de Ben, who is underway 3D Impact, a service to recover and recycle the waste generated by 3D printing with which it has won the Aquarius Imparables program, which rewards social entrepreneurship projects over 60 years of age. Training plays a fundamental role here in identifying those road companions. “If you have no idea of marketing digital, the super-expert in that field is not going to want to work with you, ”exemplifies Mike Cobián, of The Valley. "You will only be able to detect, select and involve talent in your project if you have enough training."

“The important thing is not in what competencies you have, but in the combination of them”, contributes Elena Ibáñez, of Singularity Experts. “That is something I have discovered with my project. What good is that a potential entrepreneur has a high boldness if he has a lot of dominance? Or that you have openness to change if your pressure is too high? It is in the combination when you really are optimal to undertake ”.

3. When do I have to train, before or during?

Is there an ideal time to train? Is it necessary to fill the backpack before or is it better to do it while walking? For Cobián, it depends on the route that has been done before. If it is a young man who has just left the university, the most advisable thing is to dedicate some time before training, he says. But if you are a professional with several years of experience – the most common profile, since the bulk of entrepreneurs are between 35 and 44 years old, according to the GEM report – and who already knows well the sector in which you want to undertake, the best you can be launching and meanwhile learn the technological leg. "The two formulas can be successful, the important thing is that it is never too late."

"I start from a different premise and it is not necessary academic training to undertake," says Álvaro Cuesta, who does not believe that training is an absolutely necessary condition but something that "optimizes" the chances of success. "The training and entrepreneurship paradigm does not consist in having a previous curriculum to be able to undertake, but in a constant self-training throughout life."

Be careful, however, to warm up too much before running. Because if you get too involved in training, you may never hear the starting gun. Cuesta, who has taught classes for entrepreneurs at the Instituto de Empresa and Universidad Carlos III, says that a very high percentage of the students who attend these sessions are clear cases of the I want and I can't. "They believe that by learning they are closer to entrepreneurship," he explains. "But it is the equivalent of when you order your desk before studying: you think you are doing something, but in reality what you do is delay the moment of taking the leap."

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