Three Key Skills for Business Success
If you’re a solo business owner, or looking to start a business there are some key skills you can learn or develop that will stand you in good stead for business success. I want to take you through a couple of skills I think are particularly relevant.
One skill I learnt at school, and have probably used more than any other, is touch typing. It’s a massive timesaver as I can do in ten minutes what other people take over half an hour to do. It does take a little bit of time to learn, which means many people start then give up because it will probably slow you down at first and you will make more mistakes, but you will quickly get used to it. A good way to learn is to have a picture of the keyboard propped up by your screen and you look at that rather than at your fingers. Soon, you will be able to take the card away and type without it. As well as touch typing, general computer skills are really essential for any business. You need to have at least a basic knowledge of word processing and spreadsheets as well as computer security and email. Not only is this good practise, it is necessary for keeping your clients’ and customers’ information safe.
The next skill might surprise some people as it seems so basic but money management isn’t taught at school and a large percentage of people are missing essential knowledge and feel silly asking questions about it as they feel they ought to already have that information. For example, you need to know how VAT works and how you should pay it as a business and whether you should charge customers VAT. Additionally, if your company is limited, you need to know the salary and dividend rules and how to manage your cash flow to enable the business to keep functioning. I know some business owners just consider the money to be theirs and don’t keep detailed records of their expenses or spendings. Others make mistakes with pricing as they consider costs of materials, but forget to factor in time costs so end up setting prices too low. If you don’t understand what information applies to your business situation, speak to an accountant.
Communication is another essential skill in business. It is worth coming up with a communication strategy even if it is just you in the business because otherwise you end up applying a haphazard approach which tends to waste time and means you miss opportunities. For example, if you go networking, what do you do to follow up afterwards? Some people set aside an hour a week to do their follow up so they don’t forget. Others do it immediately after an event. An even better timesaver is to arrange the follow up during the event. If you want to meet someone for coffee, don’t wait until the next day to email them, but get your diaries out during the event and set the time and location. If you are going to call them, schedule a time for the call to avoid playing phone tag.
Part of your strategy should be deciding what your key business messages are and the tone of your business: is it fun and friendly? Corporate and formal? Warm and reassuring? If you don’t know yourself, your customers might be confused too! You can also decide how you will deal with client enquiries: do you email, call or arrange to meet in person? Do you answer enquiries yourself or outsource to a virtual assistant or call answering service? Do you aim to answer enquiries within 2 hours, 24 hours or have you never considered it? Do you keep a record to ensure things have been dealt with? At first, this may not seem relevant but as your business grows, you need to make sure the quality of the service does not decline.
Don’t forget we should all be constantly learning and developing so never be sorry or worried about asking questions or needing help with something you don’t understand. The best business owners are those who know they always have more to learn. If you can think of any other essential skills a business owner needs, do let me know.
If you’re worried about any of your skills, I offer a one hour review for £35 to help you make sure you have the key skills and strategies in place to grow your business.