6 key skills to master when starting a business

As a business owner you will require a range of skills. Frequently, start-ups are founded with a very small number of employees, if any, which means you will most likely be doing the bulk of work yourself. This is a significant responsibility, and one for which you will need to be well equipped.

Regardless of the nature of your venture, there are certain skills that you will need to master in order to manage your business effectively. Your day-to-day success will depend, in great part, on your ability to quickly grasp and apply these skills.

Project management

The ability to efficiently manage projects of any size is vital for any small business owner. Broadly speaking, this involves identifying a specific goal or outcome, and managing your resources in a way that ensures this is achieved on schedule.

Projects come in many sizes. For example, when setting up your firm your projects might include developing and launching a website, honing your service before launch, or developing an efficient customer service scheme. Whatever the project, you will need to be able to manage resources including time, money and staff to ensure that you reach your goals in a timely fashion.

Book-keeping and accountancy

A head for figures is a vital prerequisite for any business owner. You must be prepared to keep comprehensive books, able to make accurate forecasts and predictions, and capable of completing end of year and in-year reports for HM Revenue and Customs.

Your financial responsibilities begin before you have even started your business. You will need to master the art of the profit and loss projection and the cashflow forecast, in order to secure investment and provide your firm with a sturdy framework for development.

Leadership

If you are an employer, leadership will be a key skill. You must be able to motivate and invigorate your staff in order to get the best from them. The success of your firm will depend, to great degree, on the morale and productivity of your workforce, and it is your job to ensure that they are at their best.

Leadership is not all about dictating. Instead, you must be prepared to listen to concerns and suggestions from your staff. Start-up businesses offer a unique environment for employees as the working style is often more collaborative. It’s often true that your staff will also have a more accurate point of view regarding relationships with customers.

Presenting

At some point while starting up your business you will almost certainly have to give a presentation. This might be to potential investors, to potential clients, or to members of staff.

Many people find presenting and public speaking very difficult. But the people watching you speak are likely to form an opinion of your business largely on the basis of your presenting abilities. This might not be fair, but that is sadly the way it is.

If you are unsure of your presenting abilities you might wish to consider taking a course, either in business presentation or public speaking. This can help build up your confidence and provide you with some of the key skills required to get your message across succinctly and effectively.

Delegation

A failure to delegate is a common malaise with business owners. Entrepreneurs, many of whom are acting on their own singular vision, are traditionally reticent to let go of any degree of control.

If you are to get anything done, you must learn to delegate efficiently. Where your time could be better spent on other, revenue-generating tasks, be prepared to pass some of the administrative tasks on to others, whether to staff or to an outsourced company. Part of the skill of delegation is identifying who would be best qualified to carry out these tasks.

Sales

It is likely that you will take on much of the responsibility for the sales process, particularly in the early stages of the life of your business. This requires its own set of unique skills.

While the sales process is totally natural for some people, others find it very difficult. If you lack confidence in your ability to close a sale, you might want to try role playing exercises with family members, in which you practice and explore some sales techniques. These can be particularly helpful if you lack ‘patter’, or find it difficult building up a rapport with potential customers.

Running a business is a demanding task. As well as being good at whatever it is that your business does, you must also be proficient in business finance, people management, sales and a whole range of other fields. Do not be ashamed to ask for help if you are unsure of your abilities in any of these areas. By developing the necessary skills you are building a firm foundation for your business.