You may have an outstanding business concept with a top-notch product, which will get you to great short-term success when starting your own business. You will reach a point, however, that if you want to experience success in the long-term, you’re going to need to master the following business skills to take your company to the next level.
Not only should you know how to develop good business plans, especially if you need financing or investors, you also need to plan out the success of your company. Strategic planning will help you set goals and define the steps necessary to achieve those goals that will accelerate your growth. This type of planning is much more than a once-a-year effort though. You need to incorporate strategic planning into everything you do so that every decision you make for your business is guided by how it helps you achieve your goals and strategies for growing your company.
Know Your Market
Learn how to conduct market research so that you can gather key information about the following three areas of your operations:
1. Industry trends. You should know what’s the current industry environment, its growth rate, and some sales figures for your industry—or industries if you reach out to more than one.
2. Competition. You should know almost as much about your competition as you do your own business. Find out the good things they do and uncover the bad things so you know how to better position your company.
3. Ideal Customers. You should develop personas for your ideal customers. You may have more than one ideal customer, so find out their demographics, where they are geographically, income level, education, and other typical profile information.
This is one of the greatest skills you can acquire for your business because you should be able to favorably negotiate just about everything connected with your company. If you rely on vendors to supply materials for your product or contractors to supply a service that you use for your customers, you need to know how to negotiate the best deals so it’s financially rewarding. And you’ll always want to be able to negotiate higher prices when selling.
You don’t have to be an accountant, but you do need to know how to save money. Most entrepreneurs tend to spend more money in the beginning when not a lot of revenue is coming in yet. So it’s important that you have several months of operating expenses saved to keep your business afloat until it finally takes off. Another way to be financial savvy is to know when expenses need to be cut back and how to make those hard decisions on what to cut.
Split or A/B Testing
One of the hardest things to suffer through is wasting time on untested or unproven ideas. As entrepreneurs, we have a lot of ideas every single day and sometimes some of them don’t pan out. That’s why it’s important to learn how to split test or perform A/B testing to help you determine what’s a good idea versus an idea that’s likely to flop. Thanks to the internet and social media, it’s easier than ever to test your ideas before making a huge time or financial commitment to developing it. This gives you a chance to perfect your business ideas before rolling them out, which can save you a lot of time and money.
Perhaps the toughest skill to master for some, persistence will see you through the dark times, like when we experience failures or setbacks in our professional lives. The key to realize is that everyone experiences these things. The best of the best are the ones who persevere through the tough times and learn to make changes on the fly so that the next outcome will be better than the last. This requires that you develop a certain amount of mental toughness that will see you past the hurdles in your way, especially if you want to survive in the entrepreneurial world.
Surviving and succeeding in starting your own business doesn’t mean you have to have some kind of outstanding abilities that others don’t. But it does mean you should master the above skills to help make your dreams a reality. Successful entrepreneurs don’t have more of what it takes, they’ve simply learned how to consistently take action to reach their goals. It’s up to you to do the same.