How to Start a Business: 6 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

October 19, 2017

These are the skills – and the courses – every entrepreneur should learn when starting a business.

LinkedIn research has found that business owners – i.e. entrepreneurs – have the highest level of job satisfaction among professionals. That makes sense, as business owners invariably start businesses around topics they are passionate about.

And yet, research (and common sense) shows there is a ton of stress that comes with running a business. Your next paycheck is never guaranteed, there are always fires to put out and everything ultimately comes back to you.

To be a successful entrepreneur, the best route to overcoming that stress and leading a more successful organization is through learning. By mastering several key skills, you’ll have more confidence when inevitable problems arise.

What skills should you learn? There are a lot you’ll need to learn about your particular industry – although you likely know those already. But there are also several key skills all entrepreneurs need at least a basic understanding at to run a successful business.

They are:

1. Sales

Arguably the most important on the list and one you can’t outsource. If you can’t sell your product or service, you can’t be an entrepreneur – period.

This extends beyond just closing a deal, too. Most businesses’ sales in the early stages come from word-of-mouth, so relationship management is perhaps even more important than closing.

LinkedIn Learning courses that teach this skill: Sales Secrets for Small Business, Sales Foundations, Sales: Customer Success

2. Digital marketing

It doesn’t matter if you are running a pizza shop or are a plumber or building a new app. To grow your business beyond a one-man shop, you’ll need some aspect of digital marketing.

This, at the very least, means building an effective website. And, more and more likely, it’ll mean knowing basic SEO, basic social media and how to run basic digital marketing campaigns, like Facebook ads.

You might be able to outsource this if your business starts to grow. But, even then, you’ll still need some digital marketing knowledge to properly manage it. And, in the beginning, it’s likely you’ll have to do much of this work yourself.

LinkedIn Learning courses that teach this skill: Marketing for Small Business, Online Marketing Foundations, Danny Sullivan on SEO

3. Accounting and budgeting

Money is the lifeblood of any organization, particularly a new organization. If you don’t know how to manage money effectively, you’ll run out of it before your business has a chance.

To avoid that, you need to have a basic understanding of accounting and budgeting. It also means knowing how to raise money; something most entrepreneurs need to do, either through venture capitalists or through bank loans.

As your business grows, you might be able to outsource this to a degree. But still, you need to know enough to know your money is being handled correctly and how much leeway your business has.

LinkedIn Learning courses that teach this skill: Finance Essentials for Small Business, Entrepreneurship: Raising Startup Capital, Accounting Foundations: Budgeting

4. Hiring and managing employees

If you want your business to grow beyond yourself, obviously you are going to have to hire and manage employees.

This skill – critical for all business leaders – is arguably even more important to a small business leader, because there’s no room for error. If you make a few bad hires or don’t effectively lead your first few employees, it will sink a nascent business.

LinkedIn Learning courses that teach this skill: New Manager Foundations, Managing for Results, Performance-Based Hiring

5. Time management

Don’t brush this off as a soft skill. When starting a new business, the temptation is to work all the time. But that’s not sustainable.

The best entrepreneurs manage their time effectively, which means two things: they spend most of their time on the highest priority tasks and they give themselves time to unplug. More than anything else, your time is your small business’s greatest resource. How you use that time will go a long way to determining how successful your business will be.

LinkedIn Learning courses that teach this skill: Time Management Fundamentals , Time Management for Managers, Arianna Huffington's Thrive 02: Learning How to Unplug and Recharge

6. Resilience

Again, this sounds like a “soft” skill, but it’s anything but. All small businesses go through failures, and if you don’t have the skills to endure and learn from those failures than you have no chance of running a successful business long-term.

A big part of dealing with failure is having a growth mindset. Rather than seeing failures as, well, failures, it’s critical to see them as learning opportunities that bring you one step closer to future success. Otherwise, if see failures as the limits of your capabilities, you’ve essentially put a boundary around how big your business can grow.

LinkedIn Learning courses that teach this skill: Building Resilience, Learning from Failure, Arianna Huffington's Thrive 04: Facing Challenges with Gratitude and Forgiveness

The takeaway

Make no mistake: there’s a lot to learn when running a business. And nobody knows all of these skills right away; you learn them over time.

The key to being a successful long-term entrepreneur is recognizing areas you are weak in and spending time learning to get stronger in those areas. As we’ve seen with some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, spending a few hours a week turning weaknesses into strengths via learning is arguably the most effective route for improving your business.

*Image from perzonseo, Flickr

Looking for one course that’ll make you a better entrepreneur? Check out our LinkedIn Learning course Small Business Secrets.

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