When you start and then work on building a business, there are always certain things you have to learn on the go. As well, trends and new technological developments come along which you need to be aware of, make use of, or prepare for.
However, no matter what industry you’re in, when it comes down to it, for long-term business success you really need to have a good fundamental knowledge of certain basics. Read on for some of the topics you should have in your entrepreneurial toolkit today.
Eventually in your business, if not even straight from the start, you will have a team to lead. To get the best out of this group of people, and to help your business really grow, you must have an understanding of leadership. You need to be able to motivate and influence your staff members towards a common goal and purpose, and be able to get across your desires clearly and succinctly.
Keep in mind, too, that business leadership isn’t only relevant to employees. In fact, as the “head honcho” of your venture, you should also be able to inspire other people associated with the organization, such as journalists, customers, investors, lenders, and business partners.
There are lots of facets of leadership to learn (e.g. delegation, conflict resolution, coordinating workers with different expertise and personalities, effective communication etc.), so consider enrolling in a specific course that will help you develop strengths in this area. For example, an on-campus or online MBA in California, New York, Arizona, or anywhere in between is worth considering, as this type of degree typically has a big focus on leadership.
Another key aspect of building a business is knowing how to market it well. In particular, when you’re starting out you must think about branding. This is important when it comes to making a name for your organization and for the products or services you sell, but also remember to develop your own personal brand, too.
After all, as the business owner and key contact for your business, you will need to attract employees, partners, investors, lenders, journalists, and suppliers to your organization if you want to succeed. As the person at the helm, you want to be seen in a positive light by others, and to develop a name as an expert in your field. Entrepreneurs should be seen as trustworthy, honest, reliable, credible, knowledgeable, helpful, and easy to work with, to name just a few qualities.
There are many ways to build a positive personal and organizational brand. For starters, do what you say you are going to do, and be clear with people on what you do and don’t offer. Showcase how your brand is different to that of competitors, and find ways to demonstrate how you can solve problems for people, and/or the benefits your business, and you as a person, can provide.
Of course, you won’t last long in business if you don’t have a good understanding of finance and how to keep cash flow on track. While you will likely hire an accountant and other experts to help you launch and build your business, as the leader you also need to be clear on the basics yourself.
The owners and managers of organizations much know how to read and understand a variety of business documents, such as profit and loss statements, balance sheets, tax returns, and sales projections; and they need to keep a close eye on cash flow at all times so that bills and employees are paid on time. It’s also necessary to look out for ways to cut costs and increase efficiency.
When you’re comfortable with the financial aspects of running a business, you will be able to make better decisions, and do so more quickly. You will also protect yourself from getting taken advantage of by less-than-honest advisors that might cross your path, and you will be more likely to grow your venture sooner.
Lastly, while the term “sales” can have negative connotations for many people, as an entrepreneur you must be adept at selling in an honest, effective way. This isn’t just about getting customers to buy your products, either. While you may soon hire staff members to focus on this for you in your business, as the leader of a firm you need to be able to sell yourself and your organization to many other people.
For example, you will want to entice top job candidates to come and work for you, and you’ll want to pitch investors or lenders to back you. You’ll also be looking for ways to grab the attention of journalists so they publicize your firm, and you’ll need to get big suppliers to take you on as a customer, and negotiate the best deals possible when they do.