5 Essential skills of an Entrepreneur (Or Intrapreneur) in 2019

5 Essential skills of an Entrepreneur (Or Intrapreneur) in 2019

In today’s fast-paced digital economy, innovation is everything. Whether you’re an entrepreneur building a startup from scratch or an “intrapreneur” innovating within an established company, the ability to develop a new idea from concept to successful execution can open up exciting – and lucrative – career opportunities. 

Becoming a successful entrepreneur (or intrapreneur) requires a specific skillset that can be cultivated through the right education. Read on to learn about five of the most essential skills you need. And, if you want to develop them in a self-paced and 100% online setting, the fully online MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MSIE) degree offered by HEC Paris and Coursera makes a world-class education in these skills more accessible than ever. 


Step one to entrepreneurship is having a good idea. Like a great artist, a successful entrepreneur interprets the world through a creative lens, seeing opportunity where others don’t. Many college students had access to the internet in the early 2000s, but it took a certain mindset to see the potential for creating a social network like Facebook that would make it easy for billions of people worldwide to connect with each other (and with ads). 

But unlike conventional wisdom that says great artists are “born, not made,” a creative business mindset can be taught. The MSIE includes “Boosting Creativity” as a fundamental course, helping every student boost their own creativity. The course also spotlights the importance of helping consumers tap into their own creative abilities, which itself can turn into massive business opportunities – just ask the founders of Instagram.

2. People skills

The myth of the lone entrepreneur is powerful in the popular consciousness, but it’s also misleading. While we all know Mark Zuckerberg’s name, the truth is that he built Facebook along with a team of cofounders, and the company could not have become what it is today without being able to bring in and integrate new team members and tens of thousands of employees.

LinkedIn analysis shows that “soft” people skills are the biggest skills gap – and thus the most valuable skills – in today’s workplace. And even though the MSIE is fully online, the program gives students plenty of opportunities to develop people skills through courses like “Team Working,” practical team projects, and mentoring sessions with faculty members and business leaders.

3. Organization 

Here’s another mythbuster: founding a startup isn’t a freewheeling escape from the structures of a conventional, established company. If anything, building a company from scratch – and managing it as it grows – makes excellent organizational skills even more essential for an entrepreneur. It’s also crucial for intrapreneurs, who must learn to navigate an existing organization in their quest to nurture innovation from within.

This kind of organizational intelligence is one of the core skills developed in the MSIE program. It’s a big part of courses like “Strategic Management of Innovation” and “Managing the Performance of a Growing Enterprise,” and it’s placed front-and-center in “Organizing for Innovation,” which shows students how organizational structures are established, develop, and change through the life of an innovative venture. 

4. Financial Know-How

Money is the lifeblood of any company, but it’s especially important for startups and other innovative businesses that can live or die based on how they balance their revenues, burn rate, and fundraising. The fact is, you can’t always wait until you can afford to hire a CFO. Successful entrepreneurs often need to be able to navigate these challenges themself from the early days of a company. 

As the #2 ranked business school in all of Europe, HEC Paris provides its MSIE students with a terrific foundation in these critical financial skills. In particular, the “Entrepreneurial Finance” course gives students the fundamentals of financial modeling and strategy, and “Private Equity and Venture Capital” will help you make the right corporate financing decisions for your business. 

5. Passion

As important as financing is, a successful entrepreneurial venture is ultimately fueled by passion. An entrepreneur’s passion sustains them during the inevitable challenges of growing a business, and it provides a foundation for a purposeful mission that inspires their team as well as a loyal base of customers. 

Working with passion, as well as harnessing the passion of others, is the focus of courses like “Social Entrepreneurship and Changemaking” and “Marketing Through Social Media.” And every MSIE student’s degree culminates with a final pitch for their business idea before a jury of HEC professors and seasoned entrepreneurs, giving them a chance to practice turning their passion into fundraising success.

Want to build these essential skills and launch the next phase of your entrepreneurial (or intrapreneurial) career? The MSIE in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MSIE) from HEC Paris is a 100% online degree for professionals in interested in product innovation and business development.