Business skills make a big difference in your company growth rate!
Entrepreneurs often start with a dream, desire or passion. Often in the guise of righting a wrong, or doing something better than anyone else can. Each of these can launch you on a business trajectory. But there are specific skills that can make you a much more successful entrepreneur.
In the beginning, entrepreneurs need to have a wide variety of skills. Not only is there a shortage of cash, but a shortage of understanding. Understanding what has to be done and how to get it done. Before you can explain what to do to someone else, you have to have a basic understanding yourself. That means that before you consider hiring, you have to be aware of how you will direct that team member. You don’t have to be an expert, but you have to have an understanding.
As your business becomes profitable you will hire help in specific areas. But the original experience is rarely lost. Businesses often start with lower cost individuals that need more guidance. Eventually, you will be able to hire experts that can grow your business faster. By that time, you may not be as hands-on with the work, but you will understand the expectations. And your leadership skills will depend on it.
Some of the basic skills you had to learn may not be needed throughout your business life. But here are three skills that will save both time and money in every stage of your business growth.
Skill #1: Communication
Everything we do in life relies on communication. But in business, communication is critical. But in business, every aspect of your success will revolve around communication. You need great communication skill to chat with prospects and turn them into customers. You need great communication skills to order supplies and negotiate a fair price. So what do you do if you don’t believe communication is your strong point? You stop and listen.
Yes, it is that simple. There can be no real communication if you don’t know what you prospects want and how to solve the problems. So the next time you think you are not presenting what you want well, stop talking and start listening? If the other person is not talking then ask them open-ended questions. For example, if you prospect is not sure what they need in their business then how can you know if what you offer will solve that problem? But by talking with them, you get to know their business and the issues they are facing. Then you will know if you can help with those problems. Or better yet you will know if you want to work with them at all.
We don’t know what we don’t know. So expect prospects to have trouble communicating the exact issues in their business. But always be listening. Because the salesperson that understands the problem will be able to present the best solutions.
The same applies to suppliers or team members. Great listening creates an understanding of the problem or process. With more understanding it will be easier to get results. This takes a bit of practice. But the more you converse about each step along the way the more familiar you will become with what has to be done. This doesn’t mean that you should ask for free advice from suppliers. But who would you rather work with? Someone that is comfortable talking about how changes needed will best serve your company. Or someone that just says don’t worry – I’ll take care of it and then does or does not deliver what you are looking for. The choice is yours, but in my business, I want to make the final decisions, not have them made for me.
Skill #2: Sales/Marketing
When you first start your business getting enough clients can be hard. That is why sales and marketing must work together. Marketing is the process of generating leads, and Sales are required to turn those leads into clients. As a business, you won’t last long without either of these. So how do you do that? How do you get your first client and how do you keep the leads coming in? That depends on what you are selling and to whom, but the processes are critical to business.
A common description of sales and marketing compares them to the flight of an airplane. Sales is the velocity that gets the plane up to speed. But marketing is the momentum that keeps the air moving under the wings for lift. Without both of these in the right proportion, the plane will falter and perhaps crash.
One common mistake that I see businesses make is to get too focused on one or the other. Sales without a steady supply of good leads are a waste of time. Marketing without a good sales process is a waste of resources and money.
It is common for a business to do well for a short period of time because they have a few good customers. And often those customers can send referrals to keep you busy for a while. But this model is not going to grow the average business because it limits you to a small pool of connections.
Let’s looks at an example:
- If you have 100 customers and 20% give you a referral (That’s a high % in most industries)
- Then you have 120 customers.
- Assume the average lifespan of a customer account is 1 year. Then factor in the dropout rate: if all 100 leave after a year, you only have 20 customers. If you have taken no other actions then your pool of referrals have gone down significantly.
- 20 customer referring 20% = only 4 new customers.
Obviously, the math must be specific for your company and you won’t gain or lose clients all on the same dates. But this should not be your only marketing method for new leads.
Developing a strategy for both sales and marketing ensures that you are set for growth. And if you are not comfortable in either sales or marketing, then I would say look at the skills you already have.
Are you good with numbers? Do you know what to measure in your processes? Like the referral example above, you need to know what to measure to grow your business?
Are you good at speaking or presenting concepts? Can you hire someone to have the sales calls? I never recommend this upfront, but if a sales person takes the pressure off then it may be a good investment. Just be sure to participate as much as possible so that you can learn what will work.
Or look to partnerships. Often those that are good at sales, are not good at technology. If you can partner with the right person it can help grow both businesses.
Skill #3: Strategy
The best and worst part of owning your business is that you have to be the one to make every decision. As an employee, you’d show up to work and do the tasks your boss assigns you. You wouldn’t have to consider how to grow the company or reach more customers. You would simply do your job and go home.
But as an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance both the short-term and the long-term goals. You need the skills to handle today’s tasks while keeping an eye on the future. You need to plan for the future while managing the cash flow. So if strategy is your weakness, then you may want to connect with a great business coach.
Entrepreneurs often have to wear many different hats throughout their day. That’s why it’s important that these skills are readily available. With the right skills and partners, you’ll know how to run your business and how to keep it growing.
Did we miss a skill that you think should be included in this list? Comment below and let us know about it and why you feel it is important.