Starting a business is now more accessible than it ever has been in the history of humanity, and with it, it has brought more and more amateur entrepreneurs into the fold. While there are a few success stories of self-taught entrepreneurs who were able to turn their humble basement business into a multinational, what we don’t hear about is all the others who weren’t able to succeed because they either had a misconception of what it actually meant to run a business, or were lacking some of the critical skills needed to be a successful business owner.
The good thing nowadays is that business is not the only area that has been greatly democratized. Education is also easier to access and more flexible than ever, allowing entrepreneurs to either acquire new skills or complement some they may already have. Here are some of the core skills that will help any entrepreneur become more efficient.
Sales and Marketing
There are very few people who are innate salespeople. While some may have some of the attributes that could make them great at selling, some of it can only be taught through trial and error, or through a formation.
There’s also the fact that many starting entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury to hire a full sales team, and have to do a lot of the selling themselves. Others may have a few salespeople working for them, but would like to have more control and direct them better.
Having a limited knowledge of sales will eventually end up hurting you, and you can’t always rely on the expertise of others for such a critical function of your business. If you want to get the sales training necessary, however, you don’t absolutely need to have a degree. It may be worth looking into sales training courses that will give you the foundation needed to either lead a sales team, understand core principles, using sales tools, or simple things like cold calling and closing.
Direct Sales and marketing is one thing, but depending on your brand, either a large portion or the majority of your traffic will come from online sources. And as such, you’ll need to have a solid grasp of online marketing if you want to get a chance at succeeding.
Again, while this is a function you can outsource, it’s always better to know the fundamentals. Not only so you can build campaigns yourself, but so that you know when someone is taking you for a ride. You see, many of the online marketing techniques can be esoteric, and results can be difficult to measure. This is especially true for SEO. If you don’t know what SEO is, it is a marketing technique that aims at increasing your visibility with search engines through things like link placement, on-page content optimization, and social signals, among other things.
These techniques take a long time to master, and it can sometimes be difficult to understand what constitutes success. For you, moving a few positions in 3 months might seem like a waste of time, but if you were able to look at other metrics, you’d be able to see how much progress you’re actually doing, and forecast for the future. Also, someone could also make it seem like you’re progressing when, in reality, the seeming results will do little for your bottom line.
Understanding online marketing will also allow you to understand which techniques would work best for your business, how to optimize your budgets and make adjustments yourself without having to constantly work with a third party.
Content creation is another core skill that could allow you to build your brand much faster. People are becoming savvier by the minute, and traditional marketing methods are not working as well as they used to. People want to be able to access real resources and hear a real voice.
Whether it’s through podcasting, producing infographics and whitepapers, videos, or written content, the capacity to let your expertise shine through will be a skill that could allow you to boost brand awareness and authority in a way few other methods can. Not only that, but knowing how to produce content that sticks will allow you to save tons of money and convey your own voice more accurately.
Accounting and Budgeting
This is another example of a function that is too often outsourced but not having even a basic understanding of accounting could have disastrous consequences. Just one mistake could have major repercussions on your business and even lead to legal action. Blindly handing over your papers to an accountant is asking for trouble.
Sure, going with a reputable accountant can reduce risks, but they’re not immune to errors. Also, understanding accounting will also allow you to understand tax codes, and be able to take advantage of all the breaks and deductions you may have access to.
Knowing how to budget is also a skill any entrepreneur should have before they even start. This will allow you to budget things like operation costs, equipment, and materials. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to know how much you need to spend on marketing efforts and keep a close eye on our margins. You’ll know when comes the time to expand, and will also be better at keeping debt under control.
Basic HR Skills
If you’re just getting started, chances are you won’t have the means to hire a full HR team. This is where having a basic understanding of HR will help. But HR isn’t simply about knowing how to hire people; it’s also about how to attract them, onboard them, and make sure they stay.
The true job of an HR professional is to make sure that you get the most out of your employees. This starts by knowing how to pick the right candidates, but it’s also about building effective training processes, a good company culture, and giving them access to important resources.
Knowing how to keep your employees, and keep their morale and engagement high, will bring tons of dividends. Not only will you be able to prevent excessive spending on formation, but you’ll also benefit from a more experienced and efficient workforce. Happy employees also tend to be more productive, and less absent, which will allow you to save on health benefits and make sure that your staff doesn’t end up getting overstretched.
Becoming a great entrepreneur is about more than simply having a great idea and a vision. It’s also about having the skills necessary to succeed and get an edge on your competition. Make sure that you consider acquiring some or all of these skills if you’re truly serious about succeeding and want to take your business to the next step.