Small Business 101: Useful Skills to Have

(It’s been a while, with the resolution themed week last week and everything else, but once again Small Business 101 is back, ready to help you start your small business dream off to the right start.  Enjoy the fun of learning what skills you need to make your business a success.)

You want to be a small business owner.  Good; there are certainly plenty of opportunities out there, and if you do have desire to do the needed work, you can make a good go of it.  But desire isn’t enough; as with anything in life, you  needs some skills to back up your plans.  Some of the most vital skills for a budding entrepreneur include:

1) Financial Knowledge: There are many reasons to get into small business; a desire to work for yourself, wanting to put your skills or knowledge to practical use, or simply wanting to do something different.  One thing all entrepreneurs need is a knowledge of financial information.  Knowing how to manage money, balancing income, expenses, and savings, all are important to both individuals and businesses.  If you are the type who lets your spouse handle all the money in your family, you’re going to need to get some help if you hope to run your own business.  Better yet, build up your financial knowledge, take control of your money, and get better at managing your finances; call it practice for managing your business’s finances when you get started.

2) Self-Motivation: When you are your own boss, you need to be able to get yourself up in the morning, get to work, and accomplish everything that needs to be done for your work.  If you are the sort who gets up at dawn on the weekend, goes to the garage and finishes half a dozen projects before noon, you’ve probably got self-motivation to spare.  For the rest of us, though, it can take a great deal more effort to get things done when we don’t have a boss keeping us on track.  If you find yourself struggling to get out of bed on the weekend, you’ll need to find the will power to get moving if and when you start your own business.

Time flies, if you don't manage it properly
Time flies, if you don't manage it properly

3) Time Management: Similar to self-motivation, some of us have no problem prioritizing our tasks, deciding what is most important to finish, what can wait, how much time to devote to each, and what should be done to get all the important tasks accomplished quickly and with time to spare.  For others, though, it’s tricky to get a handle on everything we need (and want) to get done.  Time management is nearly as important to a successful business as money management (perhaps even more so).  Schedules, calendars, and reminders can help you manage your time, but nothing can replace the ability to follow them.

4) Sales Ability: When you are running a small business, whether something as simple as a blog or as big as a restaurant, you need to sell your product.  I realize it might seem a bit less than desirable, promoting yourself and your business like this, but it’s an important part of getting your product out in front of an audience and making a profit.  There are any number of ways to market your business, ranging from simple word of mouth (telling all your friends, who tell their friends, and so on) to elaborate ad campaigns that culminate in a Super Bowl ad just after half time.  The important thing is the ability to simply get your name out there.

5) Optimism: Often neglected from lists like this, optimism that your business venture will succeed is important in, well, succeeding.  If you don’t feel your business will succeed, why bother trying?  This is not to say that you shouldn’t plan in case something goes wrong (at the very least, you should ensure that a failed business venture won’t take down your personal finances), but having optimism and faith in your own skills and ventures is important in your success.   Unlike the rest of the skills on this list, this is the only one you can’t outsource to someone else; you need to have faith in yourself and your business in order to succeed.

There you have it, a list of skills for a successful business person to have.  Develop all the ones you can , hire out the ones you can’t, and do your best to make your business venture a success.

2 Responses to Small Business 101: Useful Skills to Have

    • @Mrs. Money: True, Customer Service is a big one; virtually every small business owner will have to deal with someone to whom they are trying to sell something at one point or another. Of course, if I listed absolutely every skill a small business owner would need even excluding all the ones that only a fraction of small business owners will ever use (like the ability to grout a bath tub), I’d still be left with a list a half mile long. So, I tried to cut it down to the five most important ones (at least, to my mind). I could easily have added everything from working well with others to ability to delegate tasks, but it’s hard enough for someone who goes on as many tangents as I do to try to stay succinct.

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