Soft skills are entrepreneurial must-haves post pandemic, experts find

A willingness to embrace change and acquire new skills, particularly non-cognitive skills, is a must for entrepreneurs to grow their business in the post-COVID landscape, according to experts.

Jeff Shandu, head of computer programming school 42 Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, said in a recent webinar on entrepreneurial skills development that he has seen companies during the pandemic making the necessary adjustments and mindset shift in order to see their businesses through the difficult times.

As such, he advises enterprises to strive to adapt to the new circumstances, step out of their comfort zone, develop soft skills, and cultivate a constant desire to learn.

Shandu also urged collaboration rather than competition in the industry. He shared how companies in the food and beverage sector in Malaysia, for instance, have come together to learn as a group how to use food delivery apps after their restaurants closed down.

Stefan Ye, founder of Compass Events in Singapore, agreed, saying that after the meetings, incentives, conferences & exhibitions (MICE) sector was badly affected by the pandemic, some events organizers in the country decided to form an alliance and help each other recover and set up virtual events.

“If you choose to align with the right people, you will find there are supportive groups who are willing to share what they know.”

It is also important to listen, he added, especially to your clients, as this will deepen the trust between you, and will pay off eventually as customers will surely come back to you in the future.

Raffaele Trapasso, an economist at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in the same forum urged entrepreneurs to adopt a “learning to learn” mindset.

Learning to learn is a lifelong process in which individuals deliberately or intuitively plan, monitor, and adapt their learning. Learning to learn entails building on prior learning and life experiences in order to use and apply knowledge and skills in a variety of contexts.

Trapasso said that in today’s world of immense information and possibilities for action and interaction, what is vital is to be able to decide what is relevant to learn and what kinds of actions and interactions to undertake.

He also underlined the increasing importance of non-cognitive skills: enterprises must stay proactive, be open to taking risks, be willing to work with others and be adept to take on different tasks.

He further likened changing one’s mindset to putting in “a new operating system” that will allow an entrepreneur to develop new capacities and function in a variety of ways.

He added that for training and education institutions, they have to focus not only on traditional skills, but also on activating entrepreneurial skills in their students through real experience.

Sinn ChansereiSophea, managing director of SinnC Creative Solutions in Cambodia, shared three important reminders for entrepreneurs during times of disruption: seize opportunities, be flexible, and be resilient.

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