top of page

Nikki Butler : Must-Have Skills for Entrepreneurs in 2024

Nikki Butler is the Founder of The Autistic Joyologist. Today, they share their tips on the must-have skills for entrepreneurs in 2024.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what got you into entrepreneurship?

I fell into entrepreneurship after experiencing corporate burnout in my mid-thirties. I quit my job to take time out to recover and, during that time, realised that I didn't want to return to another corporate role. I wanted to make a difference and to do something that felt worthwhile to me.

My early entrepreneurial pursuits involved setting up businesses with my hobbies at the heart of them, such as silversmithing. I quickly learned that that was the quickest way to kill my love of a hobby, as it took away the fun and relaxation.

In 2016, I was inspired by a friend who had had breast cancer to become a medical tattooist and scar specialist. I had discovered something that made a huge difference to the lives of others, whilst it gave me a sense of fulfillment I had never experienced in corporate. When I think about my businesses, I always think, 'How can I be of service?' and I let my intuition guide me.

After my autism and ADHD diagnosis in my mid-forties, I was inspired to expand my business portfolio and launched The Autistic Joyologist, supporting other autistic & ADHD female entrepreneurs whilst challenging outdated stereotypes to create a better future for our next generations.

What I love about being an entrepreneur is pivoting and embracing new ventures and opportunities. Entrepreneurial spirit often means we dare to be different and have the potential to achieve anything we put our minds to. It's exhilarating (and a little bit terrifying!).

What are the top three skills you think are crucial for entrepreneurs today?

Number 1: Emotional intelligence. This is a crucial skill and impacts every area of business. From the entrepreneur's personal experience to decision-making, client connections and relationships, team relationships, and partnerships/affiliations. Emotional intelligence requires an entrepreneur to listen, empathise, connect and take considered action in all areas of their business and is a vital skill to master.

Number 2: Flexibility and the ability to pivot. The business world is fast-moving, and things can change very quickly. All businesses need to have the ability to evolve, change and pivot, with efficiency and speed. Entrepreneurs who can't accept that things will change will be left behind in an ever-changing and fast-moving economic landscape. The needs of potential clients and customers can change rapidly, too, as proven by the impact of the pandemic.

Number 3: Storytelling (and a sense of humour!). As human beings, we love stories. It's how we build connections and bring people into our world. Telling stories in a humorous and engaging way allows us to build strong connections throughout our business. Storytelling is critical across all business areas; at every touch point, we can benefit from bringing people into our world and letting them know that they belong there, too. It's the ultimate way to connect. Not just with customers and clients, but with our teams, suppliers and affiliates.

How do you think the role of technology has impacted these skills in recent years?

As with everything, technology brings its pros and cons. Technology has had a positive effect in terms of the amount of automation and speed at which many aspects can be delivered. We have more tools than ever, all designed to automate and improve. efficiency and a much larger reach. I have deliberately chosen three skills that I believe an entrepreneur needs to master without being able to rely solely on technology - because I believe this is where entrepreneurs can stand out in 2024.

Most businesses will leverage the technology available, and rightly so in many respects. However, relying solely on sophisticated technology could be the downfall of a business because everyone is utilising the same technology, tools, automation and approaches. The golden opportunities come from the smart use of technology and the development of the personal skills I have chosen.

Emotional intelligence is at the core of a company's culture. It's the essence of a business and shapes every area and touchpoint. If entrepreneurs can develop emotional intelligence, they will be able to use technology more positively and powerfully.

Flexibility and the ability to pivot come from a mindset, an ability to think creatively and the resilience and determination to meet challenges head-on. Technology won't help much here if an entrepreneur doesn’t have the mindset and skills to cope with challenging situations that require big and quick decisions. And finally, storytelling.

Storytelling comes from the heart; it's the WHY of the entrepreneur, the passion, the mission and the broader purpose. Whilst technology can expand the reach to share a story, the story has to come from the entrepreneur. Whilst artificial intelligence is good - it can't replicate heart and soul.

Could you share a story with us about how you used some of these skills to overcome a challenge in your journey?

The biggest challenge I saw was the pandemic. I had to close my home-based clinic. I relied solely on in-person services, so I had no income. After the initial panic and realisation Lockdown would be long-term, I decided to spend five hours a day, five days a week, working on my business. I'd read a book called The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday and chose to make the pandemic my way forward.

Without the emotional intelligence I'd cultivated, I wouldn't have had the resilience or mindset to cope or the ability to deal with the turbulence. Rather than catastrophising, I started listening to what my clients and audience wanted and needed, created online content, set up remote consultations and spent time connecting in new ways. I reached out to suppliers and peers in my industry and developed new relationships where we supported each other. I wrote for an industry magazine created purely for the pandemic, and we found new ways to work together.

I was able to pivot and set up online services, as I had the flexibility to find new ways to work. I also streamlined my services and took on High Street premises during the pandemic, knowing home-based working would be restricted. I wanted to be ready to work as soon as possible and come out of the pandemic ready to support my clients fully. Many of the processes I put in place during the pandemic remain in place, and I no longer rely on in-person income, which gives me peace of mind.

Storytelling is the key to connection. I've shared my story openly over the years. I've shared why I do what I do, the challenges I've been through and how I truly empathise with my clients. Through honest and sometimes vulnerable storytelling, I've built trusting and meaningful connections.

All of these skills became invaluable to me, none more so than when I launched The Autistic Joyologist after my autism and ADHD diagnosis in my mid-forties. I had the courage, confidence and ability to start from a strong position. I have a calmness and self-knowing that I didn't have at the start of my entrepreneurial journey. Storytelling unpins everything I do, in sharing my story I can connect with others, I can listen to their stories deeply to connect with what they need and want, and fine-tune my services to support them.

In your opinion, how important is it for entrepreneurs to adapt to changing trends and what do you see as the biggest trend in 2024?

Entrepreneurs must adapt to changing trends and stay up to date. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will remain prominent through 2024, and love it or hate it, it's here to stay, and it will continue to transform the business landscape.

We are already seeing many businesses utilise the power of AI. It's going to boost the rate of innovation, change and automation. The rate at which businesses grow and expand has the potential to be huge, and technology will see that the route to market is swift and wide.

But, and this is a critical BUT. It is becoming apparent that some businesses rely on AI to do all the work, as the content feels unnatural and lacks true connection. Human beings want and need to feel connected and a sense of belonging. Ironically, we live in a world that has more ways to connect than ever before, yet more people than ever report feeling lonely, isolated and disconnected. Technology is reducing the time we spend with each other, and the fast-paced society we live in places more demands on us, creating stressful states of living.

Smart companies will be the ones that focus on truly understanding their customers and listening to their pains and desires. They will find creative ways to deliver services and products and build connection, trust and loyalty through storytelling. Successful businesses will have a portfolio of products and services, which they can adapt quickly if needed, and for that - the entrepreneur will need emotional intelligence to be resilient, calm and a strong leader. These businesses will be able to use AI in an extraordinary way to add value that amplifies their value and offerings.

What's one common mistake you often see new entrepreneurs make, and how can they avoid it?

The biggest and most common mistake I see entrepreneurs make is trying to replicate what's already available in their market. It's a mistake I made myself with my earlier businesses. I would look at what others offered in my industry and create my version. I was able to create success on some level, but it always felt like a struggle, and I was constantly worrying about what others were doing and how busy they were.

The magic came when I looked for what was missing in my industry, and paired it with listening to what my ideal clients wanted (and needed). I also looked for ways to improve my client experience, get them their results quicker or easier, and where I could add more value. I looked for ways to have a different approach and a different opinion. And it was golden; it was the key to tripling my income within a year and becoming an expert in my field. And I stopped looking over my shoulder at what others were doing; interestingly, some of them had started trying to replicate what I was doing.

Always look for new ways to add value, put your personality and twist on things, and dare to be different. Then you will continue to move forward, your clients will always be interested in what you have to say and offer, and your competition won't be able to predict your next move. YOU are your business; put your personality into it and have some fun!

How do you keep learning and growing as an entrepreneur?

I'm one of life's eternal students. I am always reading, researching, and often taking courses to develop my knowledge and skills. I like to read every day, and I read books that challenge my ways of thinking and mindset, both personally and professionally.

I also love to listen to the opinions of others and relish interesting conversations. My mind is never closed off, so I remain open to new opportunities and ideas, and I value the insights that others bring. These conversations keep my mind active, and often, I have wonderful lightbulb moments.

Spending time with people who lift, inspire, and support you is essential. When I spend time with other amazing, like-minded entrepreneurs or leaders, I always feel inspired to grow, be a little better and chase my dreams.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone just starting their entrepreneurial journey in 2024?

It's an exciting and terrifying time, in equal measure! My advice is to be prepared for it all - all experience is crucial and valuable in the long run. It will be tough sometimes, but if it were easy, everyone would do it! In the tough moments, look for the lessons and opportunities to grow; it will help you build resilience for the future.

Put your personality into your business, please! Nobody needs another carbon copy of another business or entrepreneur. The magic in what you do is YOU, even if a hundred other businesses are offering similar. Find ways to do things differently, let your voice come through and don't be afraid to be controversial and disruptive. Share your story with passion.

Don't try and do it all alone. I know it can be tempting, especially in the beginning. Most entrepreneurs don't get help for financial reasons, but even having a virtual PA can be a game-changer. Let them support you with those time-consuming tasks and free up your time to drive the business, do what you excel at, and add the most value.

And finally, keep going. It will sometimes feel relentless, but hold onto your WHY and know it's so worth it in the end.


bottom of page