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Our thoughts & tips on small businesses, freelancers and sole traders

Essential Skills for the Small Business Owner

Written by on November 20, 2018

As a small business owner you probably are relying on a small number of employees. In fact, the entirety of your staff may be just you!

Even if you do have a couple employees around to help, chances are that you are taking on the brunt of responsibilities yourself. This means that you need to be a jack-of-all-trades with the skills to manage every aspect of your business.

For even the most simple business model, you will need to develop competencies in many different areas if your business is to succeed and grow.

The following skills are invaluable for the small business owner regardless of what type of business you own.

Communication

The ability to communicate is considered by many to be one of the most beneficial skills that one can have. Not only that, but it also serves as a foundation for other skills to follow.

No matter your career or life situation, being able to effectively communicate in-person, on the phone, and through writing helps you form strong personal and professional relationships

Communication skills for the small business owner are incredibly important.

A good communicator is someone who easily earns the trust and loyalty of those around them, earning repeat business and good will.

While some are lucky enough to be born with great communication skills, most of us have work on at least some of them. Here are some of the most common types of communication that are essential to any entrepreneur:

  • Interpersonal communication – face-to-face communication with one or more people
  • Verbal communication – Choosing the right words to be clearly understood by your audience
  • Non-verbal communication – Everything from the gestures you use to your appearance
  • Listening – Many people are not actually good listeners. When you take the time to really take in what someone is saying and respond appropriately, they are sure to notice

As a small business owner, you are especially dependent on your relationships with clients, suppliers, and anyone else whose support can help your business grow.

Communicate clearly and politely, be aware of the effect of your body language, and listen closely to what people say.

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Marketing and Sales

While larger businesses usually have a separate marketing and sales department, many small business owners are their company’s marketing and sales team.

While these two functions require different skills, we’ve grouped them together here because they are both essential for acquiring and keeping clients. 

Marketing is evolving quickly and has become even more formidable with the use of technology. Right now, you can’t beat digital marketing for value and efficiency. A sound digital marketing strategy begins with a website designed to turn visitors into customers.

Content management systems like WordPress and Wix make it easy for anyone to make an attractive website today, but you can also hire someone to make and/or maintain a site for you.

You will also want your business to be on social media since most of your potential customers are there. It can be time-consuming to maintain an active presence on multiple platforms, so think about which the largest percentage of your audience will be on and start there.

To make the most of your digital marketing efforts, spend some time learning about:

Effective marketing should make the sales part much easier by bringing the potential customers to you, reducing the need for practices like cold-calling. However, the ability to sell is still essential in converting prospective customers into paying clients.

Some people are born salespeople, but many are not. As with marketing, being an effective seller requires great communication skills, so honing these skills will be a great place to start.

Practice and repetition will help you develop your abilities, but some people need a bit of extra help developing this important skillset. Try searching for sales training delivered online or as a classroom course.

Computer Skills

Computer skills for the small business owner are crucial to have.

As mentioned above, technology bolsters business operations – and the connection is only becoming stronger. This doesn’t mean that you need to be a technical genius. However, you need to be comfortable using computers and any other form of technology that your small business might rely on to function. For example, you will hard time putting the marketing tips from the last section into action without some computer knowledge.

Because you can always hire someone to help with technical solutions beyond your skill level, consider developing a level of tech-savyness as a way of opening your mind to the possibilities available.

If you make a habit of going online to keep up with current trends, you will have a constant flow of new ideas to help improve your small business.

In addition, when you are more confident with technology, you may feel more comfortable using the many services available today to help small business owners, automate important yet time-consuming business functions like invoicing.

Time and Stress Management

According to a recent survey, 29% of business owners work over 50 hours a week and 86% percent work on the weekend. If you are like many small business owners, you work these hard hours because your job is your passion.

However, this intense schedule is not only stressful in the long-term, but can negatively impact your friends and family

By practicing better time management, you can cut back on the amount that you work and get more done in that time-period – leaving you able to enjoy your time away from the business without worrying about things left undone.

Even after you have eliminated the stress of being overworked and having a poor work-life balance, stress will likely still be an issue. Your business is your lively-hood and you are responsible for its ultimate success or failure. That is a lot to put on one person.

Stress management skills for the small business owner are crucial to have.

While you might not be able to eliminate stress from your life entirely, you can learn to manage it when it shows up. Some common tips for managing stress include:

  • Accepting that things will happen beyond your control;
  • Take part in regular exercise;
  • Maintain a healthy diet;
  • Figure out what helps you relax whether it be yoga, meditation, or knitting.

Prolonged stress is proven to cause health problems, which means that stress and time management are incredibly important skills for all of us to master. However, those with large amounts of responsibility are often more at risk of constant stress.

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How to Build These Skills

If, when reading through this post, you thought that you could stand to grow in some of these areas then fear not! There are many ways to gain new skills at your fingertips these days.

We hope that we’ve opened up some new ideas for development, or even helped you realize how these skills can help your small business thrive now and beyond.


Our guest post today was written by Courtney McIntosh. Courtney is the site manager at findcourses.com. She helps people grow and organizations evolve by making it easy to find and compare the best training solutions available. 

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