Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or you’ve recently opened a business, you’re likely thinking about all the skills you’ll need to make your business thrive. While different types of businesses will require different skill sets of their owners, there are several skills that are universally useful across the small-business landscape.
To share a few of their top picks, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council sound off below. Consider their recommendations if you’re looking to improve your leadership skills and better manage the day-to-day operations of your current or future business.
1. The Ability To Sell
The cornerstone of sales is building relationships with your audience. You might have a winning product that solves a problem, but if you cannot communicate the value and build a relationship, you will not win business. Every conversation you have with your teams and with your clients should build stronger relationships. They are not always going to be pleasant, but that does not mean that they do not strengthen a relationship. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic
2. Marketing Skills
Marketing is the most important skill for small-business owners to have. It’s important because it allows you to reach your target audience and convert them into customers. You can always delegate product development, customer service and other tasks to employees, but it’s important for small-business owners to have a strong understanding of marketing so they can be involved in the decision-making process and make sure their company is headed in the right direction. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
3. An Awareness Of The Customer Experience
Having an awareness of the customer experience is high on the list of useful skills for managing day-to-day operations. As you focus on the entire “experience” of your client’s journey, you are able to better understand how your employees also play their role with the client. This is extremely important to show how your clients feel when they interact with your company. Most people make decisions based on emotions, so if your clients feel good, supported and have trust in you and your team, then there’s a higher chance that your clients will be back to work with you over and over again. – Racquelle Pakutz, Zen Freight Solutions Inc.
4. The Ability To Manage Finances
One skill that all small-business owners should have is financial management. This includes understanding financial statements (such as a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement), creating and managing a budget and being able to make informed financial decisions for the business. Financial management helps business owners identify and address financial challenges early on. This is essential for projecting the long-term financial stability of the business. By understanding their financial position and being able to effectively manage their financial resources, small-business owners can better navigate the day-to-day operations of their business and set themselves up for success in the long run. – Michael Fellows, Solidity Beginner
5. The Ability To Delegate
The art of delegation is so important for small-business owners. When you have a small team, there can be a temptation to do too much yourself because everyone is working in multiple roles and you don’t want to overload them. But recognizing your team’s strengths and assigning tasks accordingly will make everyone’s lives easier. If the right people are tackling the right tasks, you can ensure everything is completed in a timely manner and no one is held up waiting for something because it got lost on your to-do list. – Diana Goodwin, MarketBox
6. The Ability To Read People And Situations
It’s easy to imagine what happens to a business when you hire the wrong people over and over again or when the team is constantly dealing with unnecessary drama. You can avoid this, though, if you learn basic psychology. It’s essential for running a successful organization and especially for managing day-to-day operations because it affects everything that you do—from hiring to solving problematic situations. If you can “read” people well, you can tell what motivates them, you can feel when someone is not living up to their potential and you can identify why. You also don’t have a problem initiating uncomfortable discussions. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS
7. Problem-Solving Skills
Every business owner should know how to solve problems. The type of problem doesn’t matter. Those who know how to solve a problem can use those skills in any situation, whether it’s an employee dispute, a distribution issue or a technical malfunction. Knowing how to solve a problem involves being creative and thinking outside the box. It can stretch your capabilities at times, but those who know how to do this will always be successful. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure
8. The Ability To Manage Time
One skill that all small-business owners should have is effective time management. This skill is useful because it allows business owners to prioritize tasks, focusing on the most important and urgent tasks. This can help them be more productive and efficient. Good time management can also help business owners reduce stress and avoid burnout, which can be common in the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship. By being organized and focusing on the most important tasks, business owners can ensure that they are making the most of their time and working toward their goals. – Renato Agrella, Acerca Consulting
9. The Ability To Systematize
In order to get any task off your plate as an owner, you need to be able to create a process, communicate the reason why it is done this way and then eliminate 80% of the decision making that goes into the task. We have a service where we review a client’s accounting file for opportunities to better use the software. In the past, only our most senior consultants were able to perform this task effectively. We have documented the processes so much—with detail on navigation and understanding the “why” of each step—that this is now something our interns learn how to do when they first join us. They don’t present to the client yet, of course, but they do all the leg work. This frees up time for our more senior consultants to provide solutions and get creative instead and paves the pathway for our juniors as well. – Marjorie Adams, Fourlane
10. The Ability To Listen
Successful small-business owners excel at listening to their customers, employees and investors. Strong leaders understand that despite their knowledge and experience, there are things they don’t know. Instead of walking around with a sense of superiority, true leaders listen to the people around them whenever they need to make a decision that will impact countless others. This skill is helpful because it allows you to take in other points of view and life experiences when you make key business decisions. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights