6 Skills Every Business Owner Must Have
Posted on March 25, 2013
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to balance the diverse set of skills needed to maintain a successful company. Whether your business is a law firm, flower shop, or construction company, basic principles like setting appropriate goals, managing money well, and keeping your integrity always apply.
Here are six skills that you should constantly strive to improve upon as a business owner. As you read, ask yourself which skills you’re maintaining well and which ones you might be neglecting.
1. Organization and Time Management: Time management is essential to productivity throughout your day and the workweek. Organization and effective work habits are key, and this can be especially challenging for startup founders who are not used to making their own schedules. Faithfully keeping a calendar — especially an online version that syncs between your computer and smartphone — can help. Taking the time to get organized and stay organized will save you headaches in the long run.
2. The Ability to Lead Others: A business is like a team: a group of people working together toward a common goal. If you manage employees, getting in “head coach” mode is essential. The members of your team need to be inspired and motivated, and they must receive constructive criticism from their leader.
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The first step to becoming a good leader is to simply get to know your personnel. What are their special talents? Maintaining an active interest in your employees will help you place them in the situations and roles to which they are best suited. Conveying your passion and work ethic will boost company morale enormously. It’s also important to learn how to provide good criticism and how to say “thank you” and mean it. Becoming a good leader is a process, and it’s something you should actively pursue on a daily basis.
3. A Constant Desire to Learn: In the evolving landscape of technology and social communication, a business owner can never stop learning. Businesses change, people change, and needs change, so you will have to change, too. Continually educate yourself on the latest technology, business models, and marketing channels so you’re always one step ahead. By keeping an open mind to new approaches, you will be prepared to adapt to keep your business relevant and profitable.
One way to not only adapt, but to stay profitable from year to year, is to have a proper understanding of financial reporting. Every business owner needs to know “how to play the game of business,” and knowing how to read and understand the language of accounting and other financial reporting is a crucial part of playing that game. Maybe you were never formally taught accounting practices; however, having a constant desire to learn should drive you to adapt to this particular aspect of the business world. This needs to be a priority.
If you don’t have good financial reporting or you don’t know how to interpret and read reports to make adjustments, you are flying a plane with no dials or levers. There are so many owners who have quality financial reports, but they do not know or understand the language of accounting. Thus, they are flying their plane blindfolded and are one step behind in the game of business.
4. Creativity: “Imagination,” Albert Einstein once said, “is more important than knowledge.” It’s true — especially in the business realm. Creativity encourages growth, something a business cannot survive without in a competitive marketplace. As a business owner, make it a priority to occasionally remove yourself from your daily routine to give yourself time to think and create.
5. Networking Skills: A good business owner must be able to talk to anyone and effectively communicate thoughts and ideas. Always be on the lookout for people who can help your business grow: new clients, investors, new talent, mentors, and people who will recommend your services. You never know where a business introduction or a simple conversation in the grocery store checkout line can lead.
6. Constant Fear-Fighting: We all have fears, but a good business owner must be able to recognize these fears and make adjustments to manage them or eliminate them altogether. For example, you may have a fear of selling. This could be a big problem: If you have a great product you cannot sell, then you do not have a business. To beat the fear in this scenario, you’d either train yourself to become a good salesman or hire someone to sell for you. Figure out your fears and address them either by developing your skills in that area or by hiring someone who can do it for you!
How do your skills as a business owner stack up to this list? If you are lacking in one or more of these areas, never fear: Even the most successful entrepreneurs usually struggle with one or more areas of business. The key to eventual success is recognizing your shortcomings and working to improve upon them.