Business Skills: Time to Arm Yourself with the Skills for Success
You need to know which skills you bring to your business. You will also need to know which business skills you should develop, and those you will need to buy in from others-who-can.
This is important because a successful business needs a range of skills – even a micro or side hustle business; those brilliant, Lone-Ranger companies of one!
Many of the micro businesses I work with are run by just one person, and I can tell you from experience, no matter how capable a person you are, no one person can possess every business skill needed for growth and success!
Your Business Skills Analysis is NOT a SWOT Analysis!
It’s important not to think of your skills analysis as a list of personal strengths and weaknesses, as this may cloud your judgement. For example, if you’re good with numbers but you don’t actually enjoy balancing the books, you might feel obliged to continue because you see it as a strength you must use.
Instead, try to think more in terms of what you enjoy doing, what you’d like to learn, and what tends to get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list.
(These last ones are the skills you’re least likely to enjoy, which means they’re prime candidates for outsourcing – whether you’re good at them yourself or not).
It can be hard knowing exactly where to begin with your skills analysis. So let’s start by breaking down the two main skill categories we need in business.
Understanding and Identifying Your Functional Business Skills
Functional business skills are the business-specific, practical skills you need for your business to function successfully. They are not the skills you use as your business, such as, baking if you’re a cake maker or yoga if you’re a yoga instructor. They are the skills that make business happen; things like financial management, sales, marketing, public speaking, and business planning.
Delegation is a vital functional skill; knowing when to give a task to someone else. Delegation is a skill that all the world’s top entrepreneurs all have in common. They know all too well that one person can’t do everything, so they stick to what they do best (and outsource the rest).
I’ll say it again:
Do what you do best, and outsource the rest!
Before I go any further, I’ve got a confession to make.
I always tell people that, when i started my first business 20-years ago I was very naive and knew nothing about business. So much so, that during my first five years of running my own micro business, I had no idea what the word “turnover” meant.
For a long time, I felt I couldn’t ask anyone to explain it. I was worried I’d come across as completely clueless!
Hang on! I was!!
It was only when I was forced, by failure, to really get to grips with business that – like a bolt out of the blue – I realised I had to get to grips with the functional business skills. I was really good at what I did; I knew it inside and out and seven ways to Sunday – I just didn’t have the practical, functional skills to run a business.
If this sounds familiar, it’s time to tool yourself up. With so much information out there and people like me to help, there’s no excuse not to be in the know when it comes to your business.
You may find that many of the functional skills you need are completely unrelated to your original business idea – but that doesn’t mean you should forget about them.
For example, if you don’t keep track of your financial information, you won’t have a clear enough picture of your business to make the best decisions. How will you know how much money you have available to pay yourself, invest in the business or to budget for outsourcing?
You will need a basic business plan in place as you start your business (I always say that planning is the missing link between passion and profit!), so you can understand what success looks like, know when you have achieved it, and assess what needs to be changed as you go along.
Your plan should include a simple budget forecast (what will you spend your money on?), plus a marketing strategy that covers how you intend to get new customers.
Don’t know how to do this? Seriously, we need to talk!
‘Out of the Box’ Business Skills
These can be described as ‘soft’ skills, such as communication, problem solving, creativity and collaboration. Most are interpersonal skills and are particularly important when it comes to building relationships and trust.
As ‘out of the box’ skills are more to do with personality, it can sometimes feel as though you’re a failure if you don’t possess them. For example, maybe you’re a shy person who doesn’t enjoy meeting new people – then networking events are going to be really difficult for you.
But this is far from the truth. If you don’t have these skills, can’t do these things, you’re not a failure.
We will all gravitate naturally towards some skills, and shy away from others. The trick is to honestly identify those areas you don’t enjoy, aren’t interested in, or are not so good at.
That way, you can either bite the bullet and develop new skills yourself, or you can engage an expert to take them on for you – so you could send a colleague to that networking event, or connect with people online instead.
Business Skill: Aim for Perfect but Settle for Good Enough
In an ideal world, we would all have the perfect combination of functional and ‘out of the box’ skills to succeed in business by ourselves. But the reality is that we are all human, and we all need to call in a little help from time to time!
One thing I always tell micro and side hustle business owners is this: good is good enough. The constant hunt for perfection is impossible, it’s boring and it’s often a mask for procrastination!
Things need to go wrong. How else will you learn and grow? Not if you get everything right first time on your own?
If you want to start your own skills audit, why not download my free Skills Analysis Template? It includes a simple grid for you to complete, along with some further explanation and insight about essential business skills.
And as ever, please feel free to post any questions or comments below.