Essential Skills for Business Success

5 min


Business

Business is ruthless and competitive. At every level there will be others out there vying for the same role as you, looking to get ahead. This means that if you find yourself lacking the required knowledge and skills to be successful, someone else out there will likely pull ahead and overtake you on the slippery career ladder.

Additionally, for those who plan on starting their own business and have ambitions to lead a company to great heights, will likely fail if they don’t have the relevant skills and personality traits necessary for success. That’s regardless of how knowledgeable you may be in your products or service you’re providing.

There are so many different and aspects to running a business that it’s extremely difficult to build an all-around skill set and knowledge base. For example, business owners need to have a handle on finances, hiring and firing, the legal aspects of running a firm, not to mention marketing and communications. If you don’t have the skills to deal with these aspects of business, then you’re more likely to get caught out and suffer as a result.

But fear not. To give you a fighting chance in business and make you more employable to businesspeople, or better equipped to start your own brand, here are the key skills required for individuals who want to embark on a career in business.

Financial Management

When you’re the owner of a business, it’s critical that you understand the nuances of finance and have the know-how to understand and interpret the key metrics. Being able to effectively manage your budget is critical as the information that can be gained from it can help with important decisions and also make it easier to track how your business is doing. For example, return on investment, depreciation, gross margin and EBITDA are all key concepts that help business owners understand how their enterprise is faring.

You’ll need to master being able to forecast your cash flow and sales effectively and accurately, as you don’t want to be making any mistakes that can lead to serious shortfalls in your cash position. If that were to occur, it could negatively impact your ability to purchase raw materials, which would also mean that you’d be hamstrung for producing new items to sell.

Another important aspect of financial management is filing taxes, which need to be declared in different ways depending on what type of business you operate as.

To most effectively learn about financial management and budgeting for business, consider an MBA degree, either on-campus or online, that has a concentration on business finance and analytics. This degree will furnish you with all the required knowledge and skills you need to better manage your firm’s money, which in turn will enable you to better manage your entire business. To find out what an MBA can do for you, click here.

You can also use financial software and tools that not only present key insights in an effective and easily digestible way, it can also automate some of the key tasks involved in your firm’s financial records. This can save time for you to focus on revenue-generating activities.

Marketing

Marketing is the process of advertising your business to people to make sure that they are aware of your brand and are eager to interact with it and purchase goods. Marketing can be done in various different ways, ranging from physical marketing such as billboards and flyers, and digital marketing, which includes email, social media, and blogging. Being skilled in marketing enables businesspeople to better promote their products and brand and can help drive sales and therefore profit. Due to the impact it can have on a business’ success, a lot of companies expend a lot of resources on their marketing. As a business owner, marketing is crucial and, therefore, it’s best to master marketing early on.

The first thing you need to know is how to create a marketing plan. To do this a lot of research needs to be undertaken on both your target customer base and your competitors. To do this, businesses tend to create customer personas that are hypothetical representations of the characteristics their target audience will have. Doing this will help inform marketers on how to best promote products and services. For example, if a target audience is young skaters, marketing materials and the company’s voice in general, would likely include lots of colloquialisms. Whereas for a finance firm that wishes to convey trustworthiness and security, more formal language would be used.

Following from that, to market well, clear goals and key performance indicators must be set to evaluate progress:

The goals need to be specific and measurable, as this makes them easier to track, and they also needs to be achievable. So, no outlandish objectives. As well as this, the goals need to be directly relevant to your business. Finally, deadlines need to be set so resources can be allocated.

Sales Skills

To be a good businessperson you need to know how to sell not only products but yourself. You need to learn how to be persuasive. In business, you are often trying to sell yourself to potential employers and/or clients and investors.

Communication

A good businessperson needs to know how to communicate well. This is because communications take the form of negotiations, and conversations with suppliers, investors, customers and even employees. Characteristics of good communicators include being confident and clear in what they’re saying, so that it’s easy for people to understand. You also need to develop a good sense of gravitas when you speak if you want to be seen as a leader.

As well as verbal communication, being able to write effectively is also important as there’s a lot of documentation and information that gets passed around in this manner.

Another key component of good communication that is often overlooked is listening. Far too many business leaders do not absorb feedback or suggestions well, and this is sometimes a fatal flaw. To better increase your chances of success in business, you need to be able to learn from criticism and take other people’s opinions and suggestions on board.

Leadership

For business people who plan to lead a team, leadership is a vital skill to have, as it enables you to better manage and control a workforce. Good leadership includes good communication skills, but the ability to motivate and inspire people to perform at their best. A motivated workforce is more productive.

Good leaders also lead by example, so therefore you need to set the standard so that others will follow, not to mention that providing support and mentorship will also go a long way in making you an effective leader.

Project Management

A business person is constantly managing and juggling different projects, meaning that not only is the ability to multitask crucial, but superior organizational skills are of vital importance. To be able to manage all that is expected of you, which includes keeping an eye on multiple projects, setting up websites, monitoring your digital presence and keeping a track of finances, you need to be able to plan well and learn how to prioritize tasks effectively.

A good tactic to manage your time effectively is to adopt the 60/20/20 technique. This technique is a guideline on how to break up your tasks, meaning that 60% of your time should be spent working on projects that will benefit the business, and then the remaining 40% should be split between planning and strategizing. Planning includes setting goals and working out your approach to tackling new tasks, whereas strategizing is where you spend time looking for ways to improve your output. Managing your projects and time this way is a great way to stay in control and to use your time more effectively.

Problem Solving

A business person needs to be analytical, because no matter how much you plan and how well thought out your strategies are, there will also be obstacles and unforeseen problems that will have to be navigated. A good businessperson will know how to think critically and make good decisions by always staying calm and using creative thinking to find solutions. Businesspeople need to be quick with their decision making too, so they need to be confident with their thought processes and be confident of what they believe in.

Lastly, running a business necessarily entails a great deal of pressure. This means that learning how to deal with stress is incredibly important. There’s no use putting in a lot of hours and building up a business if the endeavor is unsustainable and the person at the helm burns out. Thankfully, there are several proven methods of alleviating stress, with mindfulness and meditation being particularly helpful. There must be something in it if meditation has been embraced by business leaders like Arianna Huffington and Rick Goings. Getting enough sleep is also vital, as cogent decision making rarely happens if someone is incredibly tired. Regularly exercising and eating healthy all support brain functioning and support healthy sleeping patterns.


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