I was asked to review the book “Fortune and Freedom: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Success” by Jim Hirshfield. Although the book isn’t completely geared towards inventors, inventors ARE entrepreneurs. And Hirshfield offers a lot of great information. One of the things I found most interesting and relevant about the work were the “functional skills” Hirshfield argued one must obtain at some point during their lifetime – and obviously, the earlier the better.
The first skill Hirshfield talked about was what he labeled “direct sales”. Essentially, it is the ability to sell. He described the necessity of getting some experience selling a product or service. And I have to agree with him. I had a brief job as a door-to-door salesman and I use the skills I learned during that experience today – and all the time. You’re selling when you call a retailer, you’re selling when you ask for a promotion, you’re selling when you ask the bank for a loan. Having sales skills are invaluable.
The second skill he talked about I don’t possess, and not having it has hurt me. It’s how to manage, how to be a manager and lead people. It sounds simple enough, but I’ve always worked for myself. I’ve never developed this skill. When I founded HotPicks, I created a team, and I’m not sure I did the best job managing it.
The third skill was one I learned later on in life: financial skills. Hirshfield wants us all to understand profit and loss and how to put a balance sheet together. He wants us to be able to answer the question, “Am I making money?”
Hirshfield described a number of other important skills I enjoyed reading about and agree with, including balancing family and work, controlling a deal, putting a game plan together, etc. He didn’t go into great detail about any one subject, but offered a good overall look at what it means to be an entrepreneur. All of these functional skills are very important to learn. The sooner you learn these skills the better chance you have at success as an entrepreneur.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed over 20 products in the past 25 years. Along with business partner Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight, a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas and the skills needed to succeed. You can ask questions and get advice on the inventRight forum, check out the resource center, and listen to the weekly radio show on inventing.