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Seven essential skills for business owners

Meeting new contacts is a way of casting your business net as wide as possible

You've graduated, you've got a killer business idea and you're ready to open the doors to your very own empire. But it takes a certain mixture of personal skills to make a success of it.

Here is our list of seven skills that any business owner would be wise to cultivate.

Good organisation

This encompasses both physical and mental organisation as well as time management, which is closely linked. Any business will run a lot smoother and more efficiently if it is well organised. Clutter is nobody's friend, which is why it's vital to keep things stored in their proper places and to discard papers or items that are no longer useful. Some handy skills and habits for mental organisation are prioritising projects, working from to-do lists and understanding your own personal style. Not everyone thrives as a multi-tasker.

Effective communication

This is a skill that can be used in all facets of life, not just in your business. Effective communication skills mean you will be able to relate well to employees, peers, clients and suppliers. In a competitive business environment the speed and accuracy of your communication can mean the difference between a sale and no sale. It's all about things like making a compelling sales presentation, communicating succinctly via email, sounding persuasive on the phone, writing a complex business plan, and outlining your expectations to employees. It reduces the chances of costly and frustrating misunderstandings.

Problem solving

This can be the ability to recognise a problem in the first place and then finding a way of dealing with it effectively. Problem-solving usually involves a certain amount of risk, which needs to be weighed against the option of ignoring the problem. Therefore a good amount of problem solving skills involves exercising good judgement. This is in recognising why the problem has occurred and then exploring potential courses of action to arrive at the best solution.

Ability to learn from mistakes

The key to success is what you make of your failures. Mistakes are always going to happen – they're part of what makes us human. But there's something to be learned from every mistake. This is best done without attributing blame or responsibility. Instead, carefully consider the causes of the mistake, where you took that wrong turn and how you might handle the situation differently in the future. Over time this can help you identify any broader pattern of similar miscalculations.

Marketing

Marketing encompasses a wide variety of strategies and skills that can strengthen brand loyalty, engage with customers and connect with new prospects. And these days, depending on your business, it's often the case that online and digital marketing trumps the more traditional forms of marketing like posters, flyers and letterbox drops. You can improve your online presence by mastering the art of copywriting, understanding basic SEO, using videos and email lists to engage with customers and having a strategic social media marketing strategy.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence involves being sensitive to and perceptive of other people's emotions. This subset of skills, which includes empathy and intuition, can be critical to the success of a business, especially one that involves a lot of front line customer service. Finely honed emotional intelligence skills can help with effectively managing staff as well as negotiating with clients, vendors, suppliers and other businesses. Good emotional intelligence means an employer can better understand the motivations of their staff and customers.

Networking

There's some truth to the adage "it's not what you know, but who you know". Effective networking is a great way to meet other people and help your own brand to travel further. It means you're talking to other ambitious, growth-oriented people which may initiate a mutually beneficial business relationship. Meeting new contacts is a way of casting your business net as wide as possible. You never know what opportunities you may discover.

Do you have a passion for business? Check out one of our many business courses such as the Certificate IV in Small Business Management.