Most entrepreneurs think of starting a business when a brilliant idea comes to their mind. But, it takes more than an idea to turn this vision into reality. If you’re starting up on your own, you’ll need to develop certain business skills to run everything efficiently. Because more often than not, you’ll find yourself wearing multiple hats and juggling several different tasks at once. Even if you have support in the shape of employees, you still need skills to influence their performance positively. So, let’s break down the critical business skills you should have and the best ways to develop them.
What Are Business Skills?
Business skills refer to the abilities required to manage the different aspects of a business. Although they are often considered soft skills, running a modern business also requires advanced skills like creativity and strategic thinking. Developing these skills can greatly benefit entrepreneurs looking to start their own business venture. And, for individuals wanting to learn business skills for resume enhancement purposes, they’ll get the opportunity to make a good first impression on their prospective employers.
Importance of Business Skills
In a constantly evolving environment, having business skills is a crucial part of being able to streamline day-to-day operations. They give you an edge in the way you deal with customers, do your marketing, challenge the competition, etc. Additionally, developing business skills enables you to add value to your business in a variety of other ways. For example, the right skills help you:
- Find new ways to analyze and address problems
- Develop excellent customer care standards
- Make the most of available resources
- Build and maintain a positive company culture
11 Business Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs to Develop
Most entrepreneurs will agree that sales skills are important. Whether you sell products or services, physical or digital items, you need to know how to make people buy your offerings. However, it’s important to distinguish between hard and soft sales skills. An example of a hard skill is a sales assistant following you around in the department store pitching that you need to buy that moisturizer before stock runs out.
In contrast, a soft sell involves giving away a free sample of a product or demonstrating how to choose the right moisturizer for your face. So, when it comes to sales, make sure you know where to use hard and soft sells for your products. Ideally, it’s best to soft sell during the product research stage and hard sell when customers are ready to buy. Both are important business skills you need to know to stand out in a competitive marketplace.
Marketing is one of the most important business skills you can learn. It allows you to create promotions, write compelling product materials, gain new customers, grow your Instagram following, and more. Many of the businesses listed on Exchange are run by entrepreneurs experienced in marketing, which is why it’s easy to find profitable businesses on the platform. The best way to learn marketing skills is through trial and error – it is how most successful entrepreneurs mastered this skill set. Also, make sure to gain practical experience in content marketing, email, PPC advertising, and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. You’ll probably have to learn new marketing skills as techniques and platforms evolve. Be prepared to adapt.
If you’re looking for business skills examples that immediately improve your bottom line, negotiation is right there at the top. The skill allows you to negotiate better rates with suppliers, get more funding from investors, and achieve flexibility in customer dealings. Contrary to popular belief, negotiation skills are not about beating the other party to money or business resources.
In fact, it’s about coming up with an offer where both parties stand to gain. Viewing the other party as a business stakeholder than an opponent, as well as being fair and open, can go a long way in realizing a negotiation. In the beginning, you can practice negotiation skills with family and friends, who are likely to point out your strengths and weaknesses (without being judgmental).
4. Customer Service
Yes, you can hire a virtual assistant to cover this part for you. However, the VA won’t likely have in-depth knowledge of your products and services. Plus, do you really want to splurge on hiring and training right from the beginning? A better, more viable option is to develop the skill of customer service so that you can attract and retain customers. Typical customer service responsibilities include responding to customer questions, managing feedback, and processing refunds. Gaining customer service skills will help you keep customers happy even if they hold a negative perception of your company. That’s because you’ll know how to address the issue without burning the bridge. Plus, you can start building genuine relationships by being transparent, observing your customers’ pains and challenges, and offering an effective solution to their problem.
5. Time Management
No list of business skills would be complete without a mention of time management. If you’re planning to manage your business part-time while holding a full-time job, being able to manage time is a must. After the 9-5 office drill, it’s normal to feel exhausted. However, it’s the only time when you can focus on the business. That’s where your time management skills come into play. They allow you to organize and prioritize tasks in a way that you’re able to handle the workload in a few hours after work. To start learning time management, create a schedule detailing the things you can do to manage your time better. For example, finishing important tasks earlier can help you avoid the stress of thinking you’ve neglected something crucial. By doing this daily, you’ll learn how to better practice time management and balance job, home life, and business.
6. Finance and Accounting
Whether it’s balancing the books or writing things off on your taxes, having financial acumen can benefit your business in several ways. You don’t need to become a finance guru to benefit your business, but knowledge of balance sheets and basic bookkeeping will be critical. Understanding finance and accounting will allow you to forecast your profit and loss, as well as manage your cash flow so that you’re never short on funds to invest or cover your expenses. Moreover, you’ll be better equipped to identify how much money you should spend on marketing, outsourcing, and more. And you’ll also learn how to increase your profits via reinvestments.
Now let’s discuss some soft business skills that can make a huge difference in how you manage a business. Most entrepreneurs need to be adaptable if they want to achieve business success. Because this is the skill that will help keep your business alive during hard times. For example, many Shopify dropshipping entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to fulfill orders nowadays due to delivery issues with Chinese suppliers. While this is causing a lot of stress, the skill of adaptability can be used to manage the situation. By being adaptable, a store owner can switch to a US-based supplier until Chinese dropshippers get their issues sorted. Do you see how adaptability makes you work smarter not harder?
Creativity is one of the best business skills you can develop as it allows you to differentiate your business from others. You can apply creativity when coming up with design ideas for your website, planning a promotion, and providing customer service. You can even use it for problem-solving. Complicated problems sometimes require you to think outside the box, which is only possible if you’re a creative person. Besides all that, creativity helps you identify alternative paths to your objectives when hurdles come in your way. How can you develop creativity? We recommend that you start by spending some time on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram to see how entrepreneurs leverage their creativity to promote their businesses.
If you’re going to survive in business, you need to have the passion and perseverance to conquer challenges. Developing grit will help you get through the most boring of tasks, ignore the words of skeptics and haters, and keep you motivated even if you have many failed marketing campaigns under your belt. As your business grows, you’ll be able to invest in tools and freelancers to manage some of your responsibilities, but until then, you need to realize that you’re alone on this mission. If you have a big goal to accomplish, piggyback on your grit – it will prevent you from looking for shortcuts and encourage you to put in the time necessary to get tasks done effectively.
As a business owner, you’ll also need to create a roadmap for long-term growth. That’s where knowing how to strategize can make a difference. Those who have strategy skills can envision a future for their business and identify the right tactics for it. Another advantage of being able to strategize is that you can foresee potential risks and come up with a plan to mitigate them. The skill also helps you differentiate between low-risk tactics and ones that spell disaster. Plus, you’ll know how you plan on expanding in five, two, or even one year. And it’s that kind of growth planning that sets your business up for success. Overall, developing a strategic mindset helps shift your perspective from short-term to long-term success.
Being a resourceful entrepreneur can be a game-changer for your business. You’ll always find a way to figure things out, and who to turn to if you can’t solve an issue. Business skills like resourcefulness help you know where, how, and when to get the answers you need. By being resourceful, you learn how to do things on your own without continually bugging others for help. Online resources like question-answer websites and blogs will be your go-to assets for learning. And, if the answers you need aren’t available online, you can take the lead and run an experiment to discover the answer on your own. After all, resourcefulness is also about finding new solutions for problems and allowing ideas that seem outlandish to transform into genius.
How to Improve Business Skills
You’ll find that you already have a few of these business skills, but you need to improve them to benefit your business. Here are a few ways to hone your abilities:
- Learn from others: One way to improve business skills is to learn from experienced entrepreneurs who have the first-hand experience of building and scaling businesses. You can watch TED talks, presentations, and recorded speeches of individuals like Martin Reeves and Elizabeth Gilbert.
- Explore patterns: Another way to improve business skills is to evaluate what others are doing. The key is to find patterns of success in other people’s strategies. If you’re looking to succeed with website flipping, you can spend time studying websites that sold for a high price. If you’re looking to gain an Instagram following, you can spend time analyzing influencers’ posts.
- Practical experiment: The most effective way to improve business skills is through trial and error. You’ll improve more by implementing strategies and analyzing what you did right or wrong. That’s why nothing comes close to the effectiveness of practical learning. Sure, it can be intimidating, and you’d probably make some mistakes. However, learning from those errors is what’ll make you better at business.
Developing business skills is important if you want to succeed in running a business venture. You’ll need to create a balance of soft business skills like adaptability and hard business skills like marketing. Taking the time to master these skills and more will allow you to establish a successful company. You’ll also be able to pass on your knowledge to freelancers, employees, and VAs when you build a team. Best of all, the business skills you gain will make you feel fulfilled by helping you grow as an entrepreneur.