Small business owners often have a remarkably broad range of important skills — out of necessity.
When you set out to build a small business, you might start with your core competency, but you soon have to cultivate a number of other needed abilities, everything from bookkeeping to schmoozing to self-care.
Some you can learn as you go, but you can also look for guidance from mentors, your professional networks, or organizations such as the Small Business Administration, which offers classes on a wide range of useful topics.
But what are the most essential skills a small business owner should do, or learn to do?
1. Manage your time
A savvy business owner takes care to use time well. Days can vanish in a puff of small distractions, so it’s crucial to learning how to create actionable to-do lists, group similar tasks, focus on one thing at a time (because multitasking is a myth) and delegate some tasks to others.
2. Organize your finances
You can hire an accountant to handle the details of incomings, outgoings, paychecks and invoicing, but even so, a small business owner should know how to read the accounts and handle cash flow.
3. Plan your strategy
You should be able to set goals and create a plan to achieve those goals. It’s important to look up from the demands of each working day and work out where you want your company to be heading in the medium and long term. If there is one person who must be able to see the big picture, it is the business owner.
4. Learn from mistakes
As the playwright Samuel Beckett once said, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” As long as you do not allow yourself (or your colleagues and employees) to feel discouraged by mistakes, they will teach you how not to do things, and that brings you ever closer to discovering the right way to do it.
5. Communicate clearly
To work productively, your employees must know exactly what you need them to know — and that means you must learn to communicate as clearly and effectively as possible. Communicating clearly with customers means that you’re managing their expectations, and that is the surest way to make customers happy.
Good communication requires you to listen as well as to talk. Truly listening to your customers that will allow you to fix any problems and create a better product or experience.
And listening to your employees will teach you about how your company works and make them feel more invested in your success.
6. Market effectively
This doesn’t mean that you have to come up with a clever ad campaign or being an all-singing, all-dancing salesperson. Being an effective marketer of your business or product mostly hinges on your belief that what you’re offering is of value to others. That faith communicates itself to potential clients and to your staff as well, and soon, everyone is working toward a common goal: the success of your company.
7. Make connections
In the end, most business is about making connections, no matter what you’re selling. If you can learn to create and cultivate stronger relationships — with your clients, your employees, your friends — you’ll have fans to praise you, wise elders to turn to and community to support you. Developing this essential skill this will help you and your business to thrive.
The bottom line
It is not necessary for someone to have all these essential business skills before embarking on an entrepreneurial project. In fact, most of these skills are learned through experience, the most powerful teacher of all.