Success goes beyond hard work, resilience and expertise. It demands the understanding and proficiency in a fundamental set of business skills. In other words, it requires you to become a jack-of-all-trades and knowing which skills you have to learn early on can make all the little difference to turn your business adventure into a successful one.
Although running a business will get you on a rollercoaster of a continuous learning process, the list of skills mentioned below will give you a good idea on the kind of skills and techniques you need and how to run a small business successfully.
1. Communication, Networking & Negotiation
As a business owner, small or big, learn to build good and long term relationships with the people you meet. Even if you don’t get what you want from a person, keep your terms healthy by always staying on good terms because you never know what might come around in the near future.
And, to begin thinking of networking without sound communication is out of the picture. To be successful in business, you need to learn to communicate well. You need to be able to communicate fluently, effectively and efficiently, be it your customers, suppliers, employees or investors. This includes both, spoken and written communication skills. Learning the ability to communicate well even with your team enhances their ability to work and improve their productivity levels, leaving very little room for error. Learn to keep your communication precise and clear about your expectations, be sensitive when dealing with problems and build the skill to effectively communicate your vision, with passion and conviction.
When it comes to negotiation, it is a life skill that almost everyone has without even being aware. But, it is a skill that should be mastered through experience and with practice. The key is to learn when to say what, and come with a win-win approach to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.
2. Hands-on Skills
While you might already have a college degree, it only gets the theory in place. Instead, once you have had your brilliant business idea, to really spark the engine and put it to work, focus on gaining application focus and industry exposure centered around the concept of ‘learning by doing’ and getting hands-on skills to run your business increase the chances of your venture to become a successful one.
For example, if you want to start a Food Business, having a thorough knowledge of how the industry works can go a long way in making your business successful. Taking up a vocational course in the niche of your business operations will help you get a complete understanding of your products and services, enabling you to get the bigger picture of your business, the direction you want to take with it, the pain points & needs of your customers and the market as a whole.
Being an aspiring entrepreneur, hands-on skills are what will help you go the extra mile with your customers because you know the ins and outs of your products and this will allow you to offer the best experience to your customers.
As a centre of excellence for professional chef training and vocational education in the region, ICCA Dubai is positioned in the Food Industry as an industry expert and provides a world class culinary experience.
The Professional Programs offered at ICCA Dubai equips you with the right set of hands-on skills and knowledge to help set-up your very own Food Business.
3. Focus, Discipline & Decision Making
As a business owner, you need to stay focused and objectively assess your position in the market and visualize the future growth & direction of your business. Today, we no longer live in the age of information overload. Staying disciplined is no doubt a critical factor to the success of a business, and yourself as an entrepreneur. Everything can be organized efficiently if you are determined to adopt discipline in your business.
Lastly, learn the art of making smart decisions. Think logically, question what is real and what isn’t, reason rationally, understand professional relationships and take well thought & firm decisions.
Focus on the tasks that need immediate attention and find a way to clear the noise distracting you from doing it. And, always remember that if you can’t get things done, somebody else who is more focused and disciplined will. Most probably a competitor…
4. Business Planning & Management
Every business follows a plan, even if it is not a documented one. Developing the skill to plan & formulate and strategize & change your business plan is a skill you are going to have to learn as an entrepreneur and a business owner. The moment you choose to start your own business; it goes without say that you will have to manage a wide range of projects. It is the art of strategic planning and implementation that what will draw the line between you and the amateurs. Learn to effectively manage time, money and all your other business resources to create a balance in your overall business plan. Stay focused on making small, but quality progress everyday towards the big picture, take quality time-off periodically to think about the larger goals of your business to retrospect whether your efforts are in line with your vision for the business or not.
Some other key aspects that comes under management are Delegation and Time Management. Micro-managing and failing to delegate tasks is a trap a lot of the new business owners fall into simply because of their reluctance to let go of control.
Being the head of the business, your time is invaluable. Learn to manage it wisely, delegate the tasks that someone else in your team can do or even consider outsourcing the task and oversee it periodically to make sure it is headed in the right direction.
5. Finance & Cash-flow Management
Finance Management broadly comprises of understanding the differences between income, expenditure and the risks of investment involved. It means applying a set of techniques to manage the money of your business.
Cash is the lifeblood of your business and is acknowledged as the single most pressing concern of any small to medium-sized business. The ability to effectively manage the finances of your business is indispensable as sound financial skills go a long way in helping you run the business profitably and protecting your investment.
You should be able to confidently forecast your business’ cash flows, sales, profits and losses because the effect of cash flow on your business is real and immediate, and failing to manage it smartly & efficiently is extremely unforgiving. Learn to monitor, control, protect and getting the most work out of your cash.
6. Marketing & Sales
It goes without say that you should know the ins and outs of your products, their selling prices and production costs. You will need basic marketing skills to start & run your business, and given that you are most probably going to have a small marketing budget, you will have to be creative in marketing your business as well.
Take the time to anticipate & analyze competition in the market, trends in your industry and create a marketing strategy that highlights your USPs (unique selling propositions) and communicates a compelling message in the market to your target audience.
It is very important to promote your products effectively, provide good customer service and have a sound marketing strategy in place. If you have a bigger budget, consider hiring a freelancer or even a marketing agency to start creating blogging content and running campaigns to build new profitable revenue streams for your business.
In the business language, it is the ability of motivating people to get jobs done. Seen as a critical management skill, Leadership enables you to take charge, assemble, mobilize and motivate your team members. Being an aspiring entrepreneur, it is a skill that you need to possess and build upon to get your team to work as hard as you, and make the business successful.
The difference between a good leader and a great leader is that the latter knows when to be the boss and when to be a team player, has good delegation skills and is focused on both, the short as well as the long-term goals of the business. Leadership is one of the most valuable skills you can have. It enables you to motivate your team and bring out the very best of them and even improves the overall productivity & output of the business. As a leader, learn to also take some time out to mentor and coach your team.
To learn more about how to start a Commercial or Home Food Business, read our blog post on 'The Secret Skills of Starting a Successful Food Business'.