Senior women with laptop Written by: Anne Bolender

When most people begin thinking about becoming an online entrepreneur, the questions they first start asking themselves are “What career or job should I be focusing on as an online entrepreneur?” or “How am I going to earn an income as an online entrepreneur?”

Which are great questions, except, that the career you are looking at taking online right now may no longer be needed in 5 or 10 years, or no longer as valuable in 5 or 10 years as it is right now. And when you go to all of the trouble and effort to create an online business, it would be nice to know that the business you create will still be viable for as long as you want it to be viable.

Rather than taking a look at specific careers that are currently doing well online, I thought I would look at what skills keep online businesses successful through times of significant economic change (like the kind of economic changes we are going through right now and will likely keep going through for the next few decades).

So the 5 skills that every successful online entrepreneur needs to have are:

1) Communication Skills: strong communication skills for online entrepreneurs include writing, visual communication skills (using pictures that tell stories, creating and using videos), teaching, coaching, mentoring, interpreting, public speaking (both in-person and mediated through technologies like phones, teleconferencing systems, Skype, Google Hangout). Most of these communication skills can be used independently as online careers, e.g. writing, photography, coaching, etc., but being a writer, or being a coach does not really provide you with a viable, successful online career. Most highly successful coaches (6 and 7 figure annual incomes) combine coaching with other communication skills (writing, public speaking, visual communications), with their personal experiences (business, entrepreneurship, relationships) and their personal passions to create highly successful online businesses.

2) Creative Skills: by creative skills I’m not really referring to artistic creativity, although those are phenomenal skills to have. I’m referring to the creative skills of inventors and change agents. The individuals that Richard Florida refers to as members of the Creative Class. These are the individuals who see patterns in the environment and make connections that have never been made before to create new ideas, new ways of doing things, new answers to old problems. Jonathan Fields in his Good Life Project, interviews a number of these creative individuals, these creatives who are making connections and creating businesses that are innovative, responsive, and successful.

3) Technical Skills: all online entrepreneurs need to have some basic technical skills just to be online. Online entrepreneurs who are going to excel over the next few decades will need technical skills beyond the basic skills that are needed to create a basic WordPress blog or to connect with clients through Skype. For starters, basic html coding skills are becoming increasingly more necessary. Knowledge of how to create and share video and audio files grows as the Internet increasingly becomes more video and audio friendly.

But this is just the beginning. The virtual world, Second Life, has more than 38 million subscribers and real world businesses are beginning to notice. Companies like Adidas Reebok, American Apparel, Cisco, Dell, Harvard Law School, Imperial College London, MTV, Reuters, Sky News, Telus Mobility, and hundreds more, can all be found doing business in Second Life. This appears to be one of those technical trends where early adopters of these virtual technologies will benefit enormously in the next 10 years.

4) Organizational Skills: being organized is relatively easy when you work to a pre-set schedule – be at work at a specific time; meet company deadlines or corporate timelines or University schedules; focus on your specific tasks, etc – when you are a solo entrepreneur, you are either all things to all people or you are a manager organizing the timelines and deadlines of your staff (either in-house or virtual or both). If you are a mobile professional and need to add organizing travel itineraries, accommodations, etc., then organizational skills become one of those foundation skills that can either make or break your online business.

5) Personal Skills: let’s face it, not everyone has the temperament or the personal skill set to be an online entrepreneur. And by personal skill set I am referring to skills like flexibility, resilience, perseverance to overcome the bumps and blocks that will inevitably come your way. And then there is self-knowledge skills like intuition’ trusting your instincts’ having the self-confidence to step out on the ledge and try new things’ having an awareness of your authentic self and fundamental core values so that the business you are developing is in alignment with who you are and what you want in life.

The best, most successful online businesses are the ones that are built around lifestyle careers. And lifestyle careers are so authentically connected to who you are that they feel more like play than work. These are careers that are so interesting and exciting to you that you live in that environment – you study the environment, you enjoy researching the latest trends and developments in that environment and are ready to adapt and adopt these trends and developments into your business in ways that fit your business and your lifestyle.

As I am sure you are aware, some of these skills can be and have been used independently as the basis for great online businesses, but when you start with a mix of these basic foundational skills, and then add your personal experiences and your authentic passions, the types of really successful long-term lifestyle businesses you can create become unlimited.

‘Till next time 🙂