There are many important skills business owners should know and continually work on. Developing new skills and refining old ones is perhaps one of the most important business investments you will make.
You may have some of these skills already, but you will find that a successful business owner needs to reach some level of proficiency in almost all of them. At the very least, you will need to learn what you aren’t good at so you can outsource to a professional!
The 3 main categories we will cover in this post are:
- Operational Skills
- People Skills
- Functional Skills
Keep reading to learn more about the important skills new business owners should know.
Important Skills for Business Owners: Operational Skills
Operational skills are the nuts and bolts of running a business. These skills will help you keep things organized and on track.
These are not the day-to-day skills you need to execute on projects (functional skills) or the skills you need to communicate effectively (people skills). Instead, operational skills are the behind-the-scenes skills you need to make sure many things are getting done at the same time.
Some key operational skills you will need are:
- business acumen
- time management
- task prioritization
It is also important to have a strong understanding of business concepts in order to make informed decisions as a business owner. This includes things such as understanding the different types of businesses, knowing how to read financial statements, and comprehending basic economics concepts.
This is the reason why you always hear about how successful people are constantly reading. It is impossible to learn the solutions to every business problem via first-hand experience. Many great leaders understand this and dedicate significant time to learning from other great leaders!
Time Management Skills
Managing your time well is crucial. The first step to good time management starts with setting goals and objectives for yourself as a business owner. For example, it might be important to set milestones such as hosting an event or completing certain tasks at specific times in order to reach bigger goals down the line.
Many new business owners struggle when they no longer have the set working hours that a 9-to-5 job provides. On the other hand, many others learn that they are able to accomplish more in a 4-hour workday than they ever were able to at a company.
Your success or failure is largely determined by how effectively you are able to use your time.
Important Task Prioritization
As a business owner, you will likely be responsible for many different tasks. This can include everything from bookkeeping to marketing. It is important to have strong organizational skills in order to stay on top of everything.
A key part of organizing your business is defining your goals in a business plan. Once you have your goals set, it is important to prioritize the tasks that will help you reach them.
This means figuring out what is most important and urgent and tackling those items first. It can also be helpful to plan ahead by creating a schedule of what you would like to accomplish each day, week, or month. Creating milestones will help you keep a laser focus on what needs to be accomplished.
Just as important for your success will be reviewing the results of these key milestones. This will help you to further decide which activities are actually moving the needle for your business.
Delegating tasks is another skill that will come in handy as your company grows. It can be difficult to do everything yourself, so it’s important to learn how to delegate effectively and efficiently.
To delegate efficiently, you will need to be able to break down complex goals into concrete steps your team can take. Your people should always walk away from meetings with clear action items and an understanding of what success looks like.
This skill may be one of the most challenging to master, but if you do it well your business will be able to scale. Proper delegation means that your business is able to run without your presence and still produce a profit!
This is a skill that I am currently working on, and I find that it relates quite a bit to project management. I’m currently working on completing a project management certificate course that was created by Google because it teaches you how to organize tasks effectively. Needless to say, a large part of this includes what to delegate, whom should handle the task, and how long they have to complete it!
Automating Your Business
Automating your business can help you save time and money. There are a number of different tools and software that can help you automate tasks such as customer service, marketing, bookkeeping, and more.
I personally use tools that help me to automate my social media, calendar scheduling, and email outreach. For new business owners, you may want to look at the parts of your business that you find sucks up too much of your time.
If spending $50 a month can save you over 10 hours of your time, chances are that automation tool is worth it!
Important Skills for Business Owners: Functional Skills
Functional skills are more specific and industry-related. These skills are generally tied to your field of work, but they can also be applicable in other areas as well.
Below are some of the most common functional skills new business owners need.
- social media marketing
- developing a sales pipeline
- money management
- making sound business decisions with less information
Social Media Marketing
As a business owner, it is important to understand the importance of social media and how to use it to your advantage. Social media can be used to build relationships with customers, promote your products or services, and create brand awareness.
You will find that marketing goes beyond creating a lead funnel for your business. Many leads will have multiple “touchpoints” before they take action. They will read your blog, watch your webinars, and comment on your tweets for months (or even years) before they give you money.
That is why having a good marketing strategy is often paired with a good sales funnel. This way, you are able to nurture potential clients and grow your inbound leads while still perfecting your sales process through active outreach.
Sales Pipeline Development
Startup and small business owners are often strapped for time and might not have the luxury of waiting around for customers to come to them.
This is where sales skills come in handy. A good way to start generating leads is by making cold calls or sending out emails to potential customers.
Eventually, you should be able to outsource this task. However, you will likely need to train your initial team yourself if you do not have a large budget to work with. You will also want to know enough about this skill set to hire the correct people and evaluate the quality of their work.
If you don’t have a steady sales pipeline, then your business is in danger of having to close up shop the second you lose a client/customer.
As a business owner, you will need to be knowledgeable about financial concepts and how to manage your finances. This includes tracking expenses and revenue, budgeting, and forecasting future growth. Eventually, you will also need to know when and where to invest in your business to ensure you stay ahead of your competition!
It is no surprise that good money management skills are essential for success. You can cultivate these skills by keeping track of your business expenses just like you would your personal expenses. This is how many first-time business owners get started!
You’ll also find that reading books, joining a start-up accelerator, finding a mentor, or speaking to an expert can help you take this skill to the next level.
Make good decisions with less information
As a business owner, you will often need to make decisions with limited information. This is where your problem-solving skills come in handy. You will need to be able to weigh the pros and cons of each option and make a decision that is best for your company.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to become an expert in everything. And that includes all the skills on this list! That is why you will need to learn how to make the best decisions possible with the information that you do have.
This information may come from your past experiences, a team member, a mentor, or even Google! What matters the most is that you learn how to interpret it and turn it into action as quickly as possible.
Important Skills for Business Owners: People Skills
People skills are a must-have for any business owner. After all, you will be interacting with clients, customers, employees, and other stakeholders on a regular basis.
The best way to improve people skills is by… talking to people! Many people are terrified of putting themselves out there, asking questions, and obtaining feedback. Feedback from others, both positive and negative, will be key to discovering the areas your company needs to grow in.
Here are some of the most important people skills business owners should have:
- Hiring and training employees
- Pitching skills
- Leadership skills
One of the most important skills any business owner can have is networking. Networking allows you to meet new people, build relationships, and create partnerships. It can also help you learn about new opportunities and find potential customers or clients.
You can also participate in networking events, conferences, trade shows, or LinkedIn to meet new people. Often the best way to network is through organizations you are already a part of, such as your extended friend group or an alumni network. Even the smallest commonalities can go a long way in meeting new people!
Hiring Employees and Training
Once your business starts to grow, you might be faced with the challenge of hiring employees. Not only is it important to find talented individuals who will work well together, but also train them so they are ready for their new positions.
For newer business owners, you can start to learn these skills by outsourcing certain tasks (such as design, website development, etc). One of the biggest hurdles you may have to get used to is trusting people to accomplish the task and not micromanaging their processes.
If you can’t learn how to hire and train effectively, then you will waste your time reviewing their work repeatedly. Even worse, you might find that you still end up doing half the work yourself!
How to pitch your product or service:
If you are looking to make sales, it is important that you know how to pitch the product or service effectively. This includes everything from understanding your target market to presenting your offer in a way that resonates with potential buyers.
A good way to start this process is by doing market research and competitor analysis. You should also come up with a solid value proposition and be able to present it in an engaging manner.
A natural part of being able to pitch is also being able to negotiate well. I focus on pitching in this post because a well-thought-out pitch overcomes the common objections and smooths the way for negotiating.
This year, I’ve closed over $250,000 deals with just two phone calls by perfecting my pitches and decreasing the back and forth of negotiating!
Good leadership skills are essential for any successful business owner. Leaders inspire others and provide direction. They also make decisions that are in the best interest of the company.
Clients need to believe that you can lead them to a successful outcome, your team needs to believe that you will help them grow, and you also need to believe in your own ability to lead.
Good leadership can be summed up in one word: trustworthiness.
So ask yourself, “How can I lead with integrity and become worthy of the trust of others?” If you keep this as your north star, you will learn how to effectively solve the problems of others. This is the root of most business transactions anyways!
Bonus Skill: Get over the fear of what people may think
Starting a business can be daunting, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are plenty of resources available to help you get started.
You can also join online or in-person entrepreneur groups to get support from other entrepreneurs. Watching YouTube videos, reading books, and listening to podcasts has made learning from business leaders easily accessible.
Ultimately, these tools can only help you if you are able to take action. And often taking action means getting over the fear of failure and the worry of what others may think.
Final thoughts on the most important skills for business owners
These are just some of the skills you will need to be successful as a business owner. Keep these in mind as you embark on your journey and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.
There are many other things you will need to learn in order to be successful, but these are a good starting point. So if you’re thinking about starting your own business, make sure you develop these skills!
Which of these skills are you already learning? How are you learning them? Let me know in the comments section!