So you want to start a business and you want to know if your cut out for the craziness? Here are the 10 skills you need to master in order to start a business. Download the cheat sheet below.
The 10 Skills You Need to Master to Start a Business
Skill 1: Originality
You need to have an idea and make it original. Define your niche and your business idea and then make it your own.
Know what will set you apart from the rest, define your difference.
There is a reason why ihop took America by storm. It was because they specialized in pancakes and they knew they could appeal to children better than any Perkins or Denny’s. They niched down and made their service one that felt original.
If you want some extra help finding the niche that is perfect for you, download my free guide!
Skill 2: Curiosity
Majority of entrepreneurs have a curiosity for life long learning. By consistently asking questions and working to understand the, “why” of how things work, you will set yourself up for success.
Curiosity for numbers is especially helpful when it comes to understanding a business’s financials. Business owners should want to know the financial condition of their company from profits to cash flow and even what they will need to pay in taxes.
Financial management in itself is a business crucial skill that every business owner should know.
Curiosity to understand your customer and what makes them tick is also essential from product and service design to shopping patterns and behaviors.
Skill 3: Determination
One of the most difficult pieces of owning a business is starting it. It takes determination and persistence to get a business off the ground. Gaining a following, establishing customers and their loyalty takes time, this is where determination comes in.
According to USA Today only 20% of businesses survive their first year where only half are still standing by year 5.
If you have the grit and determination to figure out how to thrive in the global marketplace, you will be well ahead of the rest. In order to keep going you will need to rely on your ambition and why you started in the first place. As long as you have key objectives and goals in place, you will have the drive to stay on track.
Want help creating your goals? Check out my blog post on how to crush your goals!
Skill 4: Technology
In order to best capitalize on the global marketplace you need to maintain the knowledge of your niche’s technical needs.
Connectivity is a critical piece to running a small business and is invaluable to a company's clients and customers.
If you are not well versed in technological advances, this skill set can be outsourced to a consultant, web designer and/or graphic designer. Regardless, business owners should still understand the over-arching direction and technical needs for their businesses.
Non-negotiable technical needs for your business:
- In order to halve the flexibility to work from anywhere, create systems that allow you to be mobile. You can use cloud products to communicate and leverage servers like google drive or drop box to share documentation.
- Appeal to Talent
- Because there have been so many advances over the years in technology, millennials have a created a technology standard for employers.
- Appealing to the right talent may mean that you need step up your game and become competitive in the technology you use to run your business.
- Maintaining an online presence is essential to meet your customers where they already are. Having an easy to navigate website online will allow customers to reach and get to know your company within seconds. It is no longer an added benefit to have a website, it is a must-have in order to stay relevant.
- Creating a social presence is crucial to leveraging organic marketing. Be sure to post relevant content, photos and videos for your brand. Work to engage your followers and create excitement.
Skill 5: Marketing
Marketing is essential piece to growing a business. This is another function that you can outsource to a consultant or agency if you prefer, however I highly recommend that you formulate your mission, vision and values to ensure that your company strategy is well defined.
Whether you begin leveraging organic (word of mouth) marketing or you use paid marketing, your business will require getting the word out to your customers.
A key focus of the marketing skills required to effectively run a business is to understand your target market and your ideal customer. Once this is defined, focusing on how to attract and grow this customer base will be crucial to your success.
Another key focus is to understand your competitors and their marketing strategies. Once you have identified this, you will be able to better differentiate your strategies.
A great way to begin testing the waters of your marketing skills and getting a better idea of what others are doing to sustain their business, is to tap into your local BNI chapter (Business Network International).
Skill 6: Communication
The ability to communicate what your business does, the product you sell, and your value proposition is one of the most important pieces of your business. Needing to freshen up on your public speaking? Try leveraging a toastmasters group in your local area or visit a few city chamber events for networking practice.
Ensure that your brand vision is clearly communicated through your digital presence online. This means that your website, social networks and / or online groups should all contain a consistent message. A clearly articulated and consistent value proposition will entice customers to work with you and/ or purchase your products.
Creating a copyrighting strategy will be an essential part of portraying your brand story. It also is a critical piece within your marketing plan to reach your target market and speak to them in a brand voice that entices them to buy or work with you.
Skill 7: Leadership
Regardless of whether you will be a team of one or many, leadership skills provide authority in your niche and show the type of integrity you have invested in you business.
Good leaders are a key asset to any company as they provide strategic direction based on their expertise and knowledge of the industry. It is their job to create the key performance indicators (KPI's) that will drive strategic business objectives for all team members and associates.
Leaders need to be good at evaluating talent and hiring the right people. Once the right people have been hired, leaders should work to establish trust so that they can delegate to those employees. Delegating tasks to a team of individuals will be essential in order to save time and money.
A good leader will create a positive culture of growth and open communication will breed employee dedication to work harder and achieve positive business outcomes.
Skill 8: Time-Management
A key skill to owning a business is being able to manage your time in a way that is effective and productive.
Time is money and the ability to ensure each minute, hour, and day is utilized to the fullest extent for you and your employees will provide optimum performance.
Just as consultants charge by the hour and must account for their activities, so should you. Taking a close look at the activities that provide you with the greatest return on investment and those that you are not as strong at will enable you to manage your time most appropriately.
If you find there are activities that as the business owner you can outsource as they do not reside in your strength, this would be a wise decision. It will allow you to do what you do best and spend the time on things that you excel in, thereby producing greater quality of work in less time.
Skill 9: Project Management
In collaboration with time-management, the ability to project manage thoroughly is necessary in order to effectively strategize, prioritize, and align tasks for any given project.
Knowing how to work smarter rather than harder will go a long way for a small business owner wearing many hats.
As a project manager planning is key to the success of any project. Ensuring that there is a proper plan in place with goals and objectives will keep all parties on schedule. It goes without saying that meeting deadlines can make or break projects and outcomes. To ensure alignment, write everything down in a central location, accessible to all. This will help keep the momentum moving forward and keep everyone accountable and on task. There are many project management systems out there and most offer a free trial to start. It may be worth while to give one or two a try to see what works best for your business.
Minimal Viable Product
Leveraging the concept of, "Minimal Viable Product," otherwise known as MVP will prove useful when planning the activities and or product releases in your company in relation to the greatest return. Using this concept means that you will target the activities that require the least amount of effort to get on the market as quickly as possible.
This method will provide you with many benefits including potentially reduced implementation costs, speed to market, testing prior to fully releasing, insight on what works and what does not as well as consumer feedback (Forbes). Once you have learned more about your product and market response, you will be able to refine it and get it back on the market in way that saved you time and money.
Skill 10: Negotiation
Having a concept of how to not only communicate, but how to negotiate will provide business owners with less cost and hopefully more gains in the end. Negotiation is the process of discussion with another to settle an issue or dispute (Merriam Webster). Learning how to negotiate takes time, sometimes years to get down pat, however there are a couple of tricks that may help you along the way in a effort to more often getting what you want from vendors and customers.
Here are 8 tips to ensuring you get the negotiation right:
Know your product or services value
- When you truly understand your value you will be truthful and carry pride with your product. This will be transparent within your negotiation. Do your homework and be sure that you know what the other person is bringing to the table.
Negotiate the meeting place up front
- Getting the administrative details out of the way will provide a more focused conversation during negotiation
- Building rapport with the individual will provide a basis of understanding prior to the meeting. It may provide you with the leverage you need later if you build up the relationship prior to the negotiation.
Ask the right questions
- Prior to the negotiation itself, know who you will be talking to, what makes them tick, understand their needs, and ask them the right questions. It will set you up to be able to create an offer that is appealing to the other individual
Search for a middle ground
- There may need to be a compromise at the end of the negotiation. Prior to entering the meeting, ensure that you are firm on what you would sacrifice and what you will not. This will help you set boundaries and reduce the likelihood of you losing the negotiation.
Listen for cues
- Being an active listener will allow you to pick up and have insight on the small things that the other party may be partial to. When listening, a good practice is to repeat back your understanding of what you heard for clarification. Try to avoid constructing your argument when the other person is talking.
Know when to walk away and keep your integrity
- Know your BATNA: Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement
- This is your alternative to the negotiation. It gives you two options: to either come away with a better deal than anticipated or to walk away as you have a reasonable alternative (source: negotiations.com)
- Know your BATNA: Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement
Make the first offer
- Typically using anchoring bias will provide you with the advantage in negotiation. What is this? Anchoring bias is providing a number to which the negotiation begins. Similar to when you would buy a car, you work to negotiate the price from the starting point created by the dealership. The negotiator that makes the offer first, tends to be more likely to get the better deal as per Katie Shonk from Harvard University
Don't make the mistake of forgetting the tools that you need to become successful! Download the cheat sheet today!