As a business owner, you need many different skills for your business to succeed.
You may be a first-class engineer, but unless you can sell your product, your business could fail. Likewise, you could be a wizard financier, but unless the people you employ are well managed, your business could collapse. It is essential you can identify and meet the core skills your business needs to be successful. The smaller your business, the more of these skills you will need personally.
Leadership - You are the captain of the ship and must lead from the front. You must be able to motivate your staff in order to get the best out of them and improve productivity. As the leader, you must have a certain vision for the company, and because of your passion, employees, in turn, will buy into that vision.”
Finance - If you can’t manage money, you will not be able to manage your business. Do you know where your money goes each month? Being able to effectively manage your finances is critical. You will need to be able to forecast your cash flow and sales, monitor your profit and loss, manage your debtors and creditors. Having sound financial management skills will help you to run your business profitably and protect your financial investment.
Marketing - You can have a fantastic product but are you able to promote it effectively. You need to work off a marketing plan that will ensure your customers get what they want.
Sales - Marketing can drive customers to your product, but sales are going to be what keeps them coming back and keeps putting money into your pocket. Without the skills to get the best from your sales team the business will struggle.
Customer care - Always have time for your customers, without customers you have no business. Make sure your products, marketing and sales are focused on actual customer needs.
Staff Management - Having great people on your team will give you access to new strengths, while also building a company culture that people want to be a part of. Hiring, motivating and retaining the right people is essential to get where you want to go.
Communication and negotiation - You will need to communicate and negotiate with your suppliers, potential investors, customers and employees. Listening is also part of communication; listen to your customers, staff and advisors.
Other business skills - Organisational skills, problem solving, networking, procurement and buying, tendering, managing contracts, stock control and inventory planning, invoicing, accounts preparation and payroll handling.
To run a successful business it’s essential you recognise the limits of your abilities. So, as a business owner or director you also need the skill to know when it’s best to hand over tasks to others. Don’t let this list intimidate or discourage you. Being an entrepreneur is a big task, but all of these skills can be learned. Your eventual success depends on it.
Martin Luther King Jr. said - “If you can’t fly then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
The writer is a Kigali based business consultant and strategist.