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Neil Patel

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What are the communication skills successful entrepreneurs use to influence others? Succeeding as an entrepreneur is all about communication. It’s about using their skills to influence markets and create winning businesses.

From gaining early validation for your idea before going all in, to recruiting co-founders, securing funding and the best board of advisors, to selling customers, growing a team, and achieving a spectacular exit, it is all about communication skills.

Even if you don’t feel like the most extroverted entrepreneur, don’t let this focus on communication intimidate you. These are skills. Skills can be learned.

Many are very easy tweaks to implement. Others you can hire for.

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    Listening

    Listening is probably easily the most important of all skills entrepreneurs need to have. Every failure and success can likely be tied back to listening, or the lack of it, in one way or another.

    Those that learn to listen well have a huge advantage. It makes everything go smoother and faster. Failing to listen will make everything slower and more difficult.

    You can directly link this to achieving product-market fit, creating the right branding and sales messaging, the performance of fundraising campaigns, how well operations flow, and the scale and longevity of the company.

    This is about truly, actively listening. It sounds much easier to do than it can be. Though with continued practice you will get better at it.

    The Ability To Ask The Right Questions

    A big part of listening is asking the right questions in the first place. Solving problems and overcoming seemingly impossible challenges often simply comes down to asking the right questions.

    Great questions. This is one factor that often single-handedly separates the super successful founders from regular humans.

    It makes all the difference in sales and conversions. It can dictate how employee relationships go, and how well you make the right hiring choices in the first place.

    Learn to ask different questions. Ask more open-ended questions. Listen well when you get answers. It’s one of the most basic communication skills successful entrepreneurs use to influence others.

    Keep in mind that in fundraising storytelling is everything. In this regard for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

    Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

    Pitch Decks

    Pitch decks are one of the key communications tools for entrepreneurs. They heavily influence the ability to get funding, the terms of that capital, and who the investors are that you can bring on the journey.

    Your pitch deck can also dictate what experts will want to work with you, and the cofounders that buy-in. Pitch deck creation is also a significant test of your ability to market your entire business and product line.

    The good news is that while there is some art involved, there are clear formulas and processes for creating winning pitch decks too.

    Verbal Presentation Skills

    There are enormous amounts that entrepreneurs can do online and from behind screens. Though for as much as technology has replaced, verbal presentation skills are still a huge difference-maker in startups.

    Shoppers still love the human touch. Investors definitely want to hear from you live and in person. They want to know that you can sell.

    There are ways you can adapt to this if you are more introverted and prefer presenting to smaller groups than on stage. Though you can also learn public speaking.

    Consider getting a coach. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it is just another one of those parts of learning in creating a successful business.

    Networking Skills

    Elevator pitches are certainly a part of this. Though there is a big difference between just showing up to parties and throwing out salesy one-liners and actually getting tangible results from networking.

    You and your company’s net worth will ultimately be directly connected to the strength of your network. Doing well here means being strategic, adding value, and prioritizing networking on a regular basis.

    Storytelling

    Storytelling shows up in many ways. It can be verbal, but it also appears in your content, marketing, pitch decks, and how you carry yourself and operate, and the business decisions you make.

    Since the beginning of human history, stories have been important. They can certainly be pivotal in getting funded, making sales, and in the exit for your startup.

    Your startup has a great story. Though, if this doesn’t feel like your thing, and you haven’t put together a story you really feel is compelling you can always get outside help in extracting your best story that you can retell.

    Being able to create a compelling narrative is another of the key communication skills successful entrepreneurs use to influence others.

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    Ability To Convey The Vision

    The most successful founders are entrepreneurs who are able to cast a compelling vision and to get others to buy into it. This starts with being very clear about your vision for the future of the world and your company’s role in that.

    It has to be something that you can stay passionate and charismatic enough about that it will be contagious when you share it. So, that others not only want to get on board but also share that clarity in making it a reality through their daily work.

    Ability To Enroll Others In The Mission

    Vision is a big part of this, but you also need a wide variety of people engaged in the mission. You need advisors, investors, team members, vendors, and customers to all help make the vision a reality.

    Often this requires them to make some sacrifice too. That may be paying a premium for your product when there are other competitors in the market.

    It may be betting on funding you when other companies might have it together better than you. It may be working long hours, for a long period of time, for a lot less money than Google or Apple can pay.

    Adaptability To Different Communication Styles

    What will really separate you from the pack and give you the ability to scale is being able to adapt to others’ preferences for communicating.

    Some people are high-energy. Others are more passive. Some respond better to sound. While others are more visual. Some people like to listen, read or watch videos.

    Some like to be sold. Others like to feel they are making the decision. Some prefer phone calls, while others love social. Others may only respond to text and email.

    You can try to stick to your guns and just do it your way. You might get some great early traction this way. Though, to go really big and achieve scale and longevity, you are going to have to learn to communicate more broadly.

    Meeting Management Skills

    Whether it is all-hands team meetings, investor pitch meetings, or the boardroom, your ability to manage these meetings will greatly influence your outcomes.

    It will dictate how your teams respond and work. It will go beyond securing capital to how much help and value or animosity you get out of your investors after you put that check in the bank.

    This means setting the expectations and agenda well, carrying the meeting and knowing how to get results from them, and making others feel great for having attended.

    Body Language

    You communicate just as much, if not more with your body language than what you say or show on a slide. This carries over to your photos, video chats, and meetings, not just the times you are pitching from a stage or are selling an important prospect one on one.

    How you sit, stand, and use your hands will all influence opinions and outcomes. That’s another of the communication skills entrepreneurs use to influence others. One that you must learn well.

    Copywriting

    Today, copy is king. Words are a big deal and make a big difference. Not just in SEO, but in branding and perceived value and match, and conversions.

    Words are everywhere. They matter on your website, live chat, SMS, emails, social media DMs and posts, job ads, pitch decks, and investor prospectuses.

    If you have a strong copywriting background that can give you a great edge in entrepreneurship. If not, or you aren’t the fastest writer, then you can also hire for and outsource this.

    Follow Up

    You can get all of the above right, and still fail because you flopped on the follow-up. Crushing it on the first contact or meeting is great.

    Though many prospects will still need to see you showing up again and again before they buy-in. Whether it is workers, investors, or consumers, having the diligence and resilience to keep dripping and showing up will make all the difference.

    When it comes to the most enviable venture capital firms and corporate enterprise customers this is a process that can take months and even years.

    The most critical facet of effective communication is connecting with your investors. If you need more information about how to build relationships with investors, check out this video I have created.

    Ability To Accept Feedback

    You want as much feedback as you can get. It won’t all be pleasant or just what you want to hear. If it is, you probably aren’t presenting to enough people.

    This isn’t just about being able to take it on the chin and holding yourself back from crying or storming out the door. It means being able to accept even criticism in a positive way.

    To really listen and accept it. As well as to log and process it well. To be able to use it to your advantage, and decipher the difference between what is valuable and not.

    Giving Constructive Feedback

    As a leader, you not only need to be able to take feedback but to give it well too. What works as a leader may change somewhat over time.

    Though you can’t be too soft or too hard. It won’t help your company get the results it should. It won’t do the recipients any favors either.

    This will definitely show up with your teams, and knowing when to go the extra mile to keep them, and when to fire fast.

    If you haven’t read it yet, The One Minute Manager is a good book on this. It will help you hone the communication skills successful entrepreneurs use to influence others.

    Interviewing Skills For New Hires

    Successful serial entrepreneurs will tell you that great companies are all based and built on great people. You need the right people in the right seats on the bus.

    You need to make sure you have prepared them well to perform well when they are hired. It is the startup with the best team that will win the space, including the funding, customers, and exit.

    In addition to crushing it with great job ads and a recruiting process that will draw in the best talent, it means asking great questions and selling the opportunity in the best way.

    Leading By Example

    You can tell, shout and send out memos all you want, but others are going to copy what you do, not what you say. If you want to inspire others to live in a certain way that aligns with your company, then you need to lead in that too.

    Imagine if Elon Musk was seen riding around in an old gas-guzzling Hummer, and building a new home on earth, instead of downsizing to a tiny home on campus so that he is ready to take off to Mars.

    The same applies to the way you want your teams to work. They’ll copy your work ethic, hours, behavior, and how you make decisions.

    To lead a team effectively, you must learn the communication skills successful entrepreneurs use to influence others.

    Sales Skills

    You have to be able to sell. You have to be able to influence people to buy in, whether in the form of equity, buying products, giving their time, or using their reputation to promote you.

    Fortunately, there is a lot of science to sales. It is a skill that can be learned, and which you can constantly build on as you go. Though whether by books, seminars, or coaching, it is a skill worth investing in.

    You may find interesting as well our free library of business templates. There you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.

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    Neil Patel

    I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

    If you want me to help you with your fundraising, just book a call.

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