Are you thinking of starting your own business? Perhaps you’re doubting whether you’re even capable of doing so? Well, i’m here to show you that you are. In this post you’ll learn about all of the top skills that are needed to run a business successfully.
Before you begin skimming through this post, I want to first tell you that you don’t need to tick off each one right now, and that failure to do so means that you’re not worthy of starting up your own business – because that’s not true. This list merely exists as a target to aim for & work towards over the span of your entrepreneurial career.
Without further ado, let’s dive in…
#1 – Determination
Not so much a skill, and more of a mindset, but every entrepreneur requires hard work and determination to get the job done. The most successful people in the world put the work in even on days where they feel awful. In the early days (if not years) of business, you’ll likely have no one to depend on but yourself, that means if you don’t turn up – neither do the clients – or the money.
Determination can derive from passion. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, then you’ll naturally be more keen to get up early in the mornings and get shit done. Why? Because you enjoy doing it. Does that mean that you have to turn your passion or hobby into a business? Not necessarily, but it’s certainly worth considering if it’s an option.
#2 – Marketing
First things first, you need to understand your branding. What do you do? What do you sell? Who is your ideal client? Why would they want to buy your product or service? How will you communicate this to them?
This is just some of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself when setting up your business. The basic principle of business is that you need to highlight what your ideal customer’s key pain-points (“problem”) are and then clearly explain to them how you solve that problem. Once you’ve established this then the marketing process becomes much, much easier.
The idea of marketing is to establish a good relationship between yourself and the potential client, and I have found that the best way to do so is to continuously provide selfless value to others, as often as possible. Let me explain…
Perhaps you’re a Personal Trainer? Show people how to squat without injuring themselves.
Do you love to cook? Provide some tips on making vegetables taste amazing.
Identify the problem. Provide the answer.
I believe that people are slowly becoming immune to the usual ‘sales’ talk, so instead I invite to share their knowledge, opinions and experiences with others – without expectation of anything in return. To my delight, many of my Facebook Group members have accepted my invitation. Take a look for yourself!
#3 – Sales
Although very relevant to the Marketing process, Sales definitely deserves it’s own place as it is, well and truly, its own beast. If you’re doing door-to-door sales or cold-calling, then you might not need marketing at all.
Sales is one of the most important skills needed to successfully run a business. At the end of the day, you’re not just trying to sell your product or service, you’re trying to sell yourself too. People buy into other people, that’s why it is crucial that you learn how to sell yourself as a person to your clients, employers, peers, friends, family, followers & partners.
One of the best salesmen in the business is the world-renowned Jordan Belfort, you may know him best from Leonardo DiCaprio’s interpretation of him in The Wolf of Wall Street, of which he himself made a cameo appearance. The reason why I mention Jordan is that he’s released a top book on how to improve your sales skills, titled… Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling: Master the Art of Persuasion, Influence, and Success. If you’re serious about developing yourself not just as an entrepreneur, but as a person too, then it’s worth checking out his book.
Are you struggling with acquiring more sales for your service-based business? Click here to learn the one, simple change I made to my sales pitches that instantly converted more leads into paying clients.
#4 – Project Management
The ability to set goals and plan out projects effectively is key to both acquiring & retaining clients. You’ll need to strategically set out how your time is spent on X day at Y time in order to maximise your success. Lack of planning can lead to procrastination, missing (vague) deadlines and lack of momentum.
One area of your planning that you’ll need to prioritise, which we’ve already touched on, is Marketing (and Sales). Without clients, your business is going to burn itself out. You need to ensure that you are allocating time in your schedule to getting your brand out there and booking sales calls with potential clients.
Once you’ve acquired these clients, you’ll also need to be able to set clear plans for them too. Your clients will want to see clear directions from you as to what they are to expect and when, if you need them to complete a certain task by a specific date – then that needs to be made clear to them to.
There are going to be times where you’ll have to hold your clients accountable to meet certain requirements in order for you to do your best work. For instance, when I build websites for clients I often ask them to send over all of the relevant information and media, such as logos, staff photos and colour schemes etc. Without these I am unable to complete the project, so I set out a clear plan for the client from the beginning, to show them exactly what’s needed and when.
#5 – Customer Service
Well what happens when your clients miss their deadlines? How do you go about handling it? Great customer service can go along way in terms of acquiring & certainly retaining clients. How you treat your clientele can be the make-or-break between you consistently getting in repeat, or referred, business or being sat on your own – watching the hay bale roll by.
People don’t always tend to remember a good experience, but they’ll certainly remember a bad one. That’s why I avoid burning bridges with any of my clients, even if they do deserve a front kick to the face. Dealing with a problem client yourself? Check out my post on How To Deal With Difficult Clients (And How To Avoid Them).
When it comes to client projects, make a promise to yourself to go over and above what’s expected, not only will it impress your client but it will keep you on your toes & make you feel a whole lot better about yourself in general. You have to consider that each happy client that you have, might have a high-profile friend that they could potentially refer to you.
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#7 – Problem Solving
There are going to be times where things don’t quite go to plan, perhaps you’ve personally made a mistake or a system has crashed, you’re going to have to think on your feet. Admittedly it’s hard to advise how to become a good ‘problem solver’ without being overly general at this point, given that there are thousands of things that could potentially go wrong, however one thing is certain…
Great entrepreneurs reduce the likelihood of mistakes over time by continuously investing in themselves. Personal development is the single-greatest investment any business owner could ever make. By consistently developing yourself, you improve on your strengths and reducing your weaknesses, making you a far more versatile asset in the industry.
Personal development can come from reading books, watching ‘how to’ tutorials, attending seminars and best of all – experience. Nothing will be a better teacher than life itself. Mistakes & failures are a vital part of learning, so don’t dwell on them.
#6 – Financial Management
Poor cash flow will sink your business quicker than you can say “Titanic”. As a business owner you’ll be expected to keep on top of your business’ finances. This not only includes how you manage your money, but also how you report it too.
This means that you’ll need to record each financial transaction that is made to & from your business, so it’s crucial that you keep written records of all of these transactions. Invoices (and Service Agreements) tend to be the industry standard, so be sure to issue these to all of your clients, and likewise also request these from any creditors that you work with too.
Naturally as a business owner, you’ll want to regularly monitor your business to see how you can effectively reduce costs and increase revenues, subsequently increasing your profit margins. One area where you might be more lenient with costs is in hiring a bookkeeper and/or an accountant. For many, financial reporting can be a real pain in the ass, that’s why I recommend outsourcing the work to a professional, meaning you can invest your time (and skills) elsewhere.
#8 – Leadership
As you begin to grow your business, it makes sense to hire staff or outsource certain tasks. In doing so, it will be essential that you are a strong leader amongst others. There are many leadership styles in business, however all of them require respect from your staff (and peers). Without respect, people will take your work for granted and perform below the expected standard.
Surprisingly it’s not always required of a leader to be the most-skilled person in the business, however that leader is required to get the best out of their team. As a business owner it’s unlikely, if not impossible, to expect others to love your business as much as you, however, with the right level of motivation & management you can inspire your team to work as a solid unit, producing at a level much higher than you could produce on your own.
Another surprise might be that you can be a leader AND an introvert, in fact some of the most influential people of all time are introverted, including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, Mahatma Gandhi & Barack Obama.
Being a good leader comes with being confident about what you’re doing, motivating your team effectively and giving team members the freedom to grow as individuals.
#9 – Delegation
Wait what? One of the main skills needed to run a business successfully is to pass on your work? Well yes, yes it is.
One underrated skill of being a leader is having the ability to delegate work effectively, if at all. Managers often put themselves under surreal pressure by refusing to delegate work to others, thus meaning that they’re piled with all the work themselves. It then becomes impossible to prioritise tasks, and meet deadlines, clients get mad and the business takes a hit.
The opposite end of the spectrum is to delegate too much of the work. Carelessly piling the work on one or two individuals can lead to stress & resentment on their part, both of which can be catastrophic to the productivity of the team as a whole. Although it’s not always expected that the manager does the ‘dirty work’ – it shouldn’t be above them to dip in and lend a hand when needed.
Ideally as a manager, or leader in general, you want to ensure that you’re delegating work fairly amongst your team, with realistic workloads and deadlines set for each team member. Striking the perfect balance between establishing control and allowing for individual freedom is what you should aim to achieve.
#10 – Patience
Any great entrepreneur that has run a business successfully needed the skills of being patient & consistent. Despite how it may look on the outside, success doesn’t happen overnight. There are going to be moments where it just doesn’t seem worth carrying on, whether it be that no one’s engaging with your social media posts, or people are rejecting your cold calls, you’ve got to keep going – I beg of you. Each obstacle you face is just life’s test to see if you really want this enough.
So… How many of the above skills did you have? Did you get all 10? Don’t worry if not, not many people do. The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that all of these skills can be learnt through personal development & experience. Nobody expects you to be Superman so don’t sweat it if you only have a few of those skills, for instance if you suck at Marketing… then just Delegate the work to someone more capable! Your time is better placed working on other aspects of the business.