Whether you’re buying a franchise, an existing business or starting up on your own, you’re going to have to perform a plethora of roles.
This is to ensure you can grow your business whilst riding the roller coaster of challenges and emotions you’ll face along the way.
If you’re asking ‘what skills do I need to run a business?’ Here’s a list – in no particular order – of 25 skills/characteristics you could do with, to encourage a smoother journey:
1. Passion and drive
You’ll have to live and breathe your business 24/7 so make sure you’re investing in something you can be passionate about – whether that’s serving customers, making something, or building and developing a team to help you grow your empire.
2. Attentive and helpful customer service
People generally like to deal with people. And good – or even exceptional customer service is now expected as the norm. So look at ways to treat your customers as unique individuals. If you’re not, your competitors might be.
3. Good numeracy
You’ll need to have a basic understanding of how numbers work in a business so you can manage your cash flow. ‘Cash is King’ in business and if you don’t understand how the numbers stack up you’ll need to learn the basics as a minimum and employ someone you trust to help with the finer points.
4. Good literacy
At some point, you’re going to have to present written communications to your target market, customers, suppliers, staff, investors…
If it’s not your strong point always get a second pair of eyes to proof read your work before it goes public.
No matter how bad things can seem at times, you have to believe in yourself. If you don’t, why should your customers and staff believe in you either!
6. Willingness to get your hands dirty
Once you start employing staff, don’t expect people to do things you’re not prepared to do yourself.
7. Be objective
If something isn’t working you need to face up to it, react and find a fix. Mistakes will happen from time to time. This isn’t failure but part of the learning process.
8. Learn not to take things personally
Understandably your business is personal to you, but there are times when you will have to detach yourself and realise it’s only business and things that happen are not necessarily a reflection on you personally.
9. Look after yourself
If you don’t eat properly, exercise and sleep you won’t function effectively and efficiently, so make sure you look after the driver of your business…you!
You’ll need to learn to listen. Whether that’s to your customers, staff or friends and family.
11. Learn to speak to people from a position of authority
You should know your business and market inside out. Believe in yourself and your offering.
12. Always get back to people
This is important even if you’re not able to provide your product or service to them. You have to treat customers and suppliers as you would expect to be treated.
13. Ask for help when you need it
Whilst you’re going to take on board a whole host of new skills, you don’t know and can’t do everything. So seek the right help from the right people when needed.
14. Don’t forget marketing
You’ll need to know your market. What your customers and prospects need and when, where they are, how much they’re prepared to pay and the best way to communicate to them.
Develop a clear marketing strategy as part of your overall business plan.
15. Know your competitors
This should be part of your marketing strategy and be monitored on a regular basis. It’s likely that your competitors will know what you’re doing.
No matter what type of business you are running you need to be able to sell and have the confidence to do so. This also means you need to be able to handle rejection and listen to any feedback you’re given.
Before you even begin running your own business you should have started to hone your research skills. Learn to look at a variety of sources of information near and far. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to use resources right under your nose such as the people you work with on a daily basis.
18. Human resources
Once you grow and take on board staff you’ll certainly need to understand a number of HR functions, how they affect you and your team.
19. Organisational and planning skills
A scattergun approach to working can only work for so long. Before you even start your business you should know your end goal and how you plan on getting there. So plan ahead and be organised in how you manage your time and implement your ideas.
No matter how much you plan and organise yourself, unexpected challenges are inevitable. So you and your plans will need to be flexible at times. Be prepared to embrace change, whether you like it or not, and seek out opportunities in what might at first seem like a negative outcome.
If you read around the subject you’ll soon find out that there are different types of leader. So you’ll need to learn and appreciate the type you best match to understand your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to leading others. A good leader will also listen to their team and learn how each member needs to be led in order to help them work to their full potential. If you choose to lead by example you’re going to have to demand the highest standards of yourself before expecting this from others.
Looking at the last point – every good leader will know how to delegate effectively. Once you grow your business you won’t be able to do everything. So learn to delegate and appreciate the skills of those you’ve employed.
Try and develop systems or procedures for everything! From technical services to administrative tasks – be meticulous. Hard effort at the start will save time and reduce the occurrence of mistakes in the long term. The set up of systems and procedures will make it easier for you to take a step back from the business when required.
We’re not asking that you know how to build a server and IT network here. But you should know your way around the standard office based packages such as the Microsoft Office Suite. If you can’t do some of the basics; write and mail merge a letter, create presentations and use spreadsheets to collate data then it’s probably worth teaching yourself or attending a relevant course. If you’re buying into a franchise opportunity they may be able to offer some support and training in this area.
When running your own business you have to be an optimist. Or be in a working partnership where at least one of you is. This goes back again to the point of self-belief. Without optimism and the conviction that there’s always an opportunity – even when the chips are down – your business is likely to suffer.
By having a wide range of personal skills – many of which you will learn along the way – rather than specialising in just one aspect of your business, you will be better placed to succeed. Should problems and challenges occur in any aspect of your business you need to be able to understand them, but you can always hire someone with the skills and in-depth know how to fix them.