Everyone desires to be successful in business, but few are willing to learn how to develop business skills. Before we delve into the methods of developing essential business acumen, let us first get to know who business people truly are.
There are two types of people in the business world. They are experts and generalists. The ones who have specialized skills related to any business segment or work domain are usually the experts. Generalists, probably the best at business skills are most often the ones who start, run, and grow a business.
Successful entrepreneurs, by and large, are individuals who are good at handling all areas of work. They develop essential business skills such as communication, problem-solving, decision-making, leadership, and networking.
A business demands the skillful alignment of resources directed toward the execution of essential strategies and the achievement of core objectives. In reality, there could be hardly an individual who has born or grown-up traits of being good at all the demanding daily errands of a business venture.
The importance of business skills for startup founders
All but a few startups ignore the importance of learning valuable business skills. A fresh entrepreneur has to focus on improving business skills that help lead a new venture to success. It happens that many startups fail. Research shows that more than 50% of new businesses fail in the first two years of their start. Analyzing the common causes of failure of startups reveals that there are three main reasons why most startups fail so often. All of these failures indicate a lack of important business skills.
1. Lack of general abilities
Many startup entrepreneurs lack general qualities that are essential for success. For example, most new business people focus on products. They may have a great product, but they may have less understanding of some or other areas, such as finances, communication, marketing, and selling.
An entrepreneur needs to develop general business skills relevant to all areas of work. Focusing too much on one aspect with a mindset of specialization can lead to trouble in other foremost areas of the business concern. It does not mean, in any way, that a specialist cannot be a good entrepreneur. Experts can, and in some cases, be more successful as entrepreneurs as long as they are willing to adopt a generalist approach to doing business.
2. Partnering with experts
Most people do business together with experts in their field. These people are mono-professionals. The saying “Birds of a feather flock together” applies here. Due to a lack of networking capabilities, they may seek advice or partner with experts in the same profession. This limits new ideas and puts constraints on employing a variety of approaches to work. Lawyers, for example, form a business with other lawyers, such as law practitioners. They can be very smart professionals, but they may lack professionalism in other significant aspects of managing and growing a business.
3. Absence of clear goal
A big cause of failure arises when entrepreneurs are unable to create or lose the sense of mission. Both emotional intelligence and a sense of mission are essential to take a business person through the ups and downs of starting and running a business. Entrepreneurs must focus their efforts on developing a mission or long-term goal, as well as communicating, directing, and motivating employees to achieve it.
What are practical business skills?
Learning essential business skills and improving knowledge is of paramount importance to leading a business venture. A business is affected by many internal and external factors that require smartness and intuitive capabilities at the owner’s end. Below are a few practical business skills that an entrepreneur must develop to achieve long-term business success.
Running an enterprise is called entrepreneurship. What do entrepreneurs essentially do? They mobilize and organize resources to produce and deliver something new to their customers. All businesses mobilize, utilize, and organize resources which are land, labor, and capital. Organizing these resources or factors of production in a way that they yield a new product or service is what we call an enterprising skill. This extremely important business skill includes the risk-taking ability and willingness of an entrepreneur to put resources to work.
Entrepreneurs need to comprehend the economic significance of all the resources they are putting together. They also have to explore ways and means of organizing resources efficiently so that maximum output can be derived out of minimum resource utilization.
2. Psychological capacity
A successful startup or a growing entrepreneur is always a strong-minded person. It refers to having substantial mental capabilities that include optimism and resilience as the key factors. Business is all about hopefulness, optimism, positive expectations, zeal, and motivation. And then there is resilience, which is vital to standing firm in difficult situations.
Businesses often face unexpected circumstances such as sudden falls in revenues, the departure of a key employee, interruptions in the supply chain, and negative customer behavior. All such issues create a challenging environment for entrepreneurs to face and require high-value business skills to respond. Resilient people with positive mindsets and optimistic outlooks are better equipped to handle real-world business issues.
3. Generosity and problem solving
Thriving entrepreneurs are generous people. They are aware of the power of giving. Their emphasis is not on accumulating wealth at any cost but to help people and offer solutions to customers’ problems. They believe in earning money by offering solutions.
One example of the generosity of successful entrepreneurs is creating jobs and training opportunities. Most students come out of educational institutions in search of jobs. They need training and initial work experience because educational institutions do not teach students how to meet the challenges of career and personal life. They are looking for job training and financial security. Generous business people understand this need for passing grades and provide opportunities for them.
As a result, such far-sighted entrepreneurs create a future workforce that is very loyal to them and helps achieve long-term business success.
4. The mission
No one succeeds without a clear mission in life. The same is true about entrepreneurs. Accomplished entrepreneurs are mission-oriented. They set a clear goal and put their energies to work to achieve that goal. A goal or a mission gives a direction and aspiration to work more, strive more, and earn better.
5. Networking and communication
If two of the most fundamental things are to be named to achieve a big purpose, especially in business, they are communication and networking. A confident and lively communication style gives an individual a positive outlook and helps win the hearts and loyalty of anyone associated with the business.
Good communicators in business specifically build strong relationships with employees, customers, and experts. They also tend to make an impactable presence in the market. A strong communication skill, together with the social skills of an entrepreneur, leads to well-founded networking, which is indeed a vital link to success.
6. Business management skills
An entrepreneur or a startup knows the chosen business very well before entering the market. The decision is based on extensive research, technical knowledge, market study, and expert opinion.
This does not mean that the entrepreneur must be capable of producing or selling products or services on their own. It indicates the knowledge of the product, a sense of the market, an understanding of the supply chain, knowing the customers, and being observant of future trends. A solid cognizance of supporting functions such as planning, controlling, delegation, fund management, and accounting are also important business skills for entrepreneurs.
7. Business development skills
Skills connected to launching a new business venture and managing it effectively are very crucial for a successful entrepreneur. Likewise, as an entrepreneur, developmental skills are equally important for business growth. Markets keep evolving, and that necessitates entrepreneurs to develop their businesses accordingly.
A good entrepreneur is open to any idea or initiative that helps grow a business. Business development requires entrepreneurs to be far-sighted and growth-oriented. They ought to strategize on measures for expanding operations, developing markets, increasing revenue, growing their customer base, and developing products.
How to improve business skills
As mentioned earlier, not all entrepreneurs can be equally capable of all business skills. This is humanly impossible. Entrepreneurial skills can be improved over time which requires an acumen of learning, knowledge building, and information processing. A few of the ways of improving business skills are mentioned below.
The best way to improve business skills is to adopt the habit of reading books. Reading a few pages of a book or an article every day can make a big difference if done consistently. Successful entrepreneurs make reading a daily habit. They invest time and money in books and business magazines. They subscribe to industry-specific newsletters. All this helps to improve their general and industry-related knowledge and information.
Enabling oneself with the latest knowledge and information gives an unmatchable advantage over competitors.
Book: Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street. By John Brooks
2. Choosing a mentor
Mentors are teachers. They can guide and furnish advice based on experience, knowledge, and research. Seeking help from mentors is a great way of learning new things, handling difficult situations, and boosting motivation. Counseling by a mentor benefits a lot. That is why successful entrepreneurs choose mentors wisely.
Networking with a learning community and like-minded people is yet another way of improving your general and specific business skills. Establishing useful networks helps in sharing the latest knowledge, information, problems, and solutions. Networking also helps in generating sales leads for your business.
4. Taking the courses
There are plenty of courses both online and offline to improve business skills through formal methods of teaching and learning. One can enroll in such courses to seek business skills training. Online forums like skillshare and udemy offer such courses, enabling their aspirants to develop the business skills needed to become successful business owners. Universities, training institutes, business coaches, and local chambers of commerce and industry also help entrepreneurs develop business skills through various training programs, seminars, and conferences.
If you ask what are the most important skills needed to become a successful business owner. The answer to this is clear, there is no specific number of skills that a person can master to become a successful entrepreneur. There are plenty of knacks to develop given the job of an entrepreneur.
Because it is obvious that an entrepreneur has to deal with all aspects of a business venture. If you are curious about how to develop business skills, it is far more beneficial to focus on developing general skills both in technical and support areas related to your business. You need to be a generalist who can hire experts to perform functions and understand all facets of a business.
Being a generalist means establishing networks with experts. You start to learn about it and build relationships with everyone who specializes in any domain beneficial to your business. Focus on building your mission and finding the experts who are inspired by that mission. In addition, to be a businessman is to be generous above all.
If you build a great company, you create many jobs for talented people and you solve a lot of problems faced by your customers. Helping others and affecting their lives positively is what enables an entrepreneur to earn loyalty and recognition. To sum up, in our opinion, the most important business skills for entrepreneurs are generosity, networking, and being a generalist.
Business skills, investment, and management are the top priorities for business owners today. However, most people often lack the time or motivation to develop these valuable business skills.
How have you learned and improved your business skills? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section for the benefit of our readers.