When starting a business, it's natural to hope your business grows and makes money as quickly as possible. However, in reality, things don't always work out that way. Building a great business requires extensive planning, time, effort, and commitment. As an entrepreneur, you can't expect leads to flood in without taking practical steps toward success. While experience can certainly teach you valuable lessons, investing time in developing business skills can help you avoid potential pitfalls and keep your business moving in the right direction.
Here are a few essential skills that can help you move forward in your entrepreneurial journey, irrespective of industry or the type of business you want to run.
A key feature of any profitable business is good financial management. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we all heard devastating stories about businesses that collapsed due to debt, insolvency, and poor financial decisions. Given the changing economic conditions and fiercely competitive market, financial literacy is a must if you're looking to start and sustain a business. While business finance can be an overwhelming topic to delve into, you can start by spending some time researching and understanding:
How to maintain positive cash flow
Cash flow refers to money that moves in and out of your business. To make sure the money earned by your business is greater than the amount you spend, you'll need a basic understanding of how to:
Eliminate unnecessary costs
Manage day-to-day spending
Maintain a cash reserve
Reinvest in your business
Our posts on how to improve cash flow and five practical strategies to cut costs in your small business can be a good place to start your learning.
Tools to manage your business finances
From managing your bills to sending payment reminders to your customers, numerous online tools can effortlessly handle mundane accounting tasks and save you countless hours. All you have to do is take time to research and find the accounting tools that suit your business process—and learn how to use them effectively.
Spend time reading forums and online reviews of various accounting tools. This will help you understand how certain accounting software can help manage your business finances. It'll also help you stay updated on the latest advancements in technology. Here are a few popular websites that can help you compare and find the right accounting tools:
The Australian government offers various tax deductions, concessions, grants, and support schemes to help small businesses reduce their tax burdens. When you start identifying and applying for the right opportunities, you improve your chances of lowering your taxable income and saving money.
Keep a close watch on the business.gov.au and Australian Taxation Office websites to keep yourself updated on new schemes and changes that relate to business taxes.
Read more about small business tax offsets and instant asset write-offs to learn how they can help reduce your tax bills.
Strong marketing skills
We've emphasised this so many times: marketing is crucial for your business to succeed. You will not make money unless people start demanding your product/service, and people will not want it unless you make them aware of its value. Businesses are constantly looking for new opportunities to reach out and engage with potential customers. To keep up with the competition, you'll need to develop necessary marketing skills to build brand awareness and effectively persuade leads to become loyal customers.
Practice the art of content creation
Content creation isn't a skill that can be easily learnt and reproduced. It requires you to push your creative capabilities and present interesting content to your audience in a way that's easy to consume. Whether you're looking to nurture your customers through your business website, social media platforms, or email marketing campaigns, you must develop the ability to creatively present content and effectively use marketing channels to keep your audience engaged.
Check out the Zoho Social Journal to get powerful tips and insights for mastering social media content creation.
Unlike other marketing tactics, search engine optimisation (SEO) can help potential buyers discover your business without you having to spend any money. Having a basic understanding of SEO fundamentals, like keyword research, link building, on-page optimisation, and local SEO, can go a long way in helping you rank higher in search engine results and attract the right leads for your business.
Here are a few useful websites that can help you grasp SEO concepts easily:.
What is SEO? Search Engine Optimisation Explained: An easy-to-read blog by Ahrefs that explains the basics of SEO.
Optimising Your Blog for SEO: This helpful post by Zoho Academy gives you practical tips to easily optimise your website/blogs for better discoverability.
SEO Fundamentals Course with Greg Gifford: A free online course by SemRush with video lessons on the basics of SEO and how to drive traffic to your business.
Similar to SEO, search engine marketing (SEM) helps you increase exposure to your website through paid advertising. In this case, search engines like Google and Bing let you bid a price per click for specific keywords, and if your bid is accepted, your ad will display in a prominent position (top or right corner of the window) among search results.
Although it may not be the most "organic" approach to finding new customers, the targeting capabilities ensure you spend money on leads with a high possibility of turning into customers.
Use Google's free Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course to learn digital marketing with real-world examples and fun exercises.
At some point, you may hire people to share your workload and take on additional responsibilities. At that point, your leadership skills will play a huge role in determining how your business shapes up. Good leadership isn't just about getting people to work. It's about guiding your team through the process, helping them work together, listening to their concerns, and empowering them to effectively use their skills and resources to reach your business goals. Regardless of how many people you have to manage, mastering good leadership traits can help you handle challenging business scenarios more easily.
Skills of a good leader include:
Good communication: Knowing how to convey a message or strike up a conversation with appropriate tone, language, and words.
Empathy: The ability to be a good listener, while keeping an open mind to another person's point of view.
Effective delegation: Being able to assess your employees' strengths and weaknesses, and assign tasks accordingly for the desired results.
Practical thinking: Knowing how to make important business decisions without letting your emotions influence you.
Avoiding micromanagement: Understand how to strike a healthy balance between giving employees independence and staying in the loop about their progress.
While some people have the natural ability to lead, others need practice and an open mind to learn from their shortcomings. If you want to learn more about how to be a good leader, we encourage you to read books and blogs on leadership and follow business leaders on social media (wisely) to gain practical and useful insights.
When you run a business, you cannot afford to mess up deadlines or produce poor quality work, especially owing to poor time management. If you're not naturally great at sticking to your schedules, time management is a crucial skill to develop early on in your career. When you learn to manage your time properly, you become more organised and more productive. To do this, you must first learn to prioritise your tasks in order of importance and gradually eliminate distractions that limit your productivity. While you cannot become an organised person overnight, you can develop the necessary skills by incorporating a few good habits into your routine every day.
Try using time-tracking tools like a Pomorodo timer to stay focused and complete your tasks effectively.
Read our blog on 6 time management strategies to learn practical steps you can take to save time and maximise productivity.
We hope this blog takes you one step closer to achieving your dream of running a successful business. Are there any other skills you'd like us to add to this list? Let us know in the comments.