There are five skills that give small business owners the best chance of success, according to Jacob Aldridge, Director of Strategic Advisory at businessDEPOT .
“In my experience, the top five skills are sales, technology for efficiency, self-drive, perspicacity, and an innate sense of value,” says Aldridge.
Every business is a sales business, says Aldridge, and business owners that thrive are those willing to win clients in the early days. “Inbound marketing efforts like social media, blogging, and videos are invaluable for acquiring clients in the long term, but for a start-up business most sales activity needs to be outbound.”
This doesn’t mean cold calling or being pushy, he says, rather it’s a willingness to take your product (or service) to the world knowing some people will reject it but being prepared to keep endorsing it anyway.
- Technology for Efficiency
Start-up businesses can over-optimise their use of technology at the expense of client acquisition, says Aldridge. “It’s critical in the first year or so to understand how technology can be used to make your workflow process more efficient.”
Aldridge says that sustainable, profitable businesses leverage software solutions like Xero for invoicing and real-time accounts; Trello for team and task management; and Prezi or PowerPoint for duplicatable sales presentations.
“Software with more advanced features, and a larger investment, can wait until you’re profitable,” he says.
Self-drive is crucial. As a business owner, you are 100 per cent responsible for everything, says Aldridge. “Once the initial start-up excitement wears off, business ownership can be a lonely and anxious place.”
“Without the inner drive to keep knocking on doors, metaphorically or literally, it will wear you out and you will become part of the 50 per cent of new businesses that fail within the first three years,” he says.
Perspicacity can also be described as contextual awareness, or put simply – understanding. “As a business owner, you need to understand why you make the decisions you make, and more importantly why your clients, staff and suppliers decide and act the way they do,” he says.
Aldridge explains, we all make decisions from our own unique situation, but great business owners understand the context others are living within. As such, they adjust their motivation and sales message accordingly.
“Many business owners feel their staff should act a certain way, or their customers should buy for a certain reason, and that self-centered worldview destroys their business.”
- Innate Sense of Value
The most important skill as a business owner is an innate sense of value, says Aldridge.
“Businesses only succeed and grow when they deliver value to their specific target market, and the best entrepreneurs identify where value isn’t being delivered so they can fill that gap in the market.”
More importantly, says Aldridge, they refine and innovate their business to continue delivering value long after their initial idea has been duplicated.
There are people who just ‘get’ business, says Aldridge, and I’ve met people who will never wrap their head around being an entrepreneur. “The difference, I believe, is this innate understanding of where value does or does not exist.”
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