One of the benefits of living in the modern world is that anyone and everyone can set up a business. If you have the capital and a good idea, then you can be up and running in no time. However, it’s also true that, while it’s never been easier to start a company, most of those companies end up failing within a few years. Sometimes it’s because the public just wasn’t buying what they were selling. But sometimes it’s because of issues that could have been remedied, had the entrepreneur had a few more skills and knowledge in the locker. Drive and ideas won’t always save you in the world of business! It’s what you know that counts, too.
So how do you gain these skills? Where do you turn, when you need to have knowledge that you don’t already possess, yet you don’t always know what that type of knowledge looks like? Below, we take a look at how you can learn the business skills you need to succeed. Whether you’re a beginning or a veteran, there’s always space for knowing more.
What are your weaknesses?
Before you can figure out what you need to know, you need to figure out what you don’t. The art of self-analysis is somewhat underrated. It is, of course, important to know your strengths — but it’s always possible to get too fixated on what you’re good at, and disregard what you’re not at (or at least downplay the importance of those things). By looking at yourself and giving an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to move forward and give your weak spots a boost up.
Focus on temperament
Having creative ideas and the determination to bring them to life are admirable traits, but don’t forget that it’s often the ‘soft skills’ of business that count, especially when you’re the business owner, and especially when you have employees working for you. When it comes to analysing your weaknesses, don’t focus solely on the hard skills, like your ability to lead marketing campaigns or whatever. Take a look at your ability to lead calmly, listen, and not buck when the going gets tough.
Be grateful that you’re living in the modern world. You carry all the information that’s ever been recorded around on a device that you keep in your pocket. There have been many brilliant minds throughout history, and many of them were kind enough to write down their thoughts for the rest of us to enjoy. Only, many of us don’t — we just follow our own path. It’s always recommended that you go that way, but little is lost by knowing how other people reached their destination. Build a collection of books from the 21st century’s greatest entrepreneurs, and dig deep before bedtime. You are sure to find at least one golden piece of advice that helps you.
In an organisation
Many people look into starting their own business because A. they have a good idea and B. they don’t want to follow the orders of others. They want to be their own boss. However, it’s not something that you want to force too quickly. While people tend to focus on the downsides of working at a company, there are plenty of benefits, too, which go beyond simply picking up a paycheck. For example, you learn how the business world works from the inside. You might be eager to step out on your way, but keep in mind that when you work for a company — especially a successful one — you’re essentially getting a free education. You’ll learn things that you can only learn by working within an organisation.
Take a course
And talking of education, it may be worthwhile taking a formal course, too. When you run a business, you’ll be in charge of much more than you would be if you were a regular employee. And these things aren’t just matters that you need to take care of — they’re things that can make or break your success. Take handling your company’s finances, for instance. To ensure you know how best to spend and manage your finances, look at studying on a distance education accounting programme. It’ll be the top-up your existing financial skills you need to feel confident in managing the financial aspect of your business.
Find a mentor
It always feels like a new world. We’re living on the cusp of the future, and that’s the only way we’re going. Sure, there’s something to be said for that, but we’ve got a lot of ground behind us too, and those days weren’t as radically different to ours as we might think. As such, why not look at picking the brains of someone who has been there, done that? There’s a lot of value in having a mentor, yet it’s not something that too many follow through with. They’ll be able to give you advice that could take you decades in business to learn for yourself. If the idea sounds interesting, identify someone who you’d like to be mentored by, and approach them.
You can’t build a successful company on your own. It’s never been done before, and it won’t in the future, either. If you’re going to succeed, you’re going to need other people — customers, other companies, employees, and so on. As such, you’ll be well-served by learning the art of chatting to other people, such as networking. It’ll help you in many areas of your business, including learning new skills.
Make a Mistake
Some people pride themselves on having never made a mistake. But this in itself is there mistake. You learn much more from trying something that you do by staying in the slow lane. While it’s important that you don’t unnecessarily jeopardise your company’s well-being, you should take the occasional gamble. If it doesn’t pay off, then you’ll know how to improve things the next time. You can’t achieve anything important without first making a few errors.
Other People’s Errors
It’s not only your errors that can help you to improve, either. You can learn something from other people’s business mistakes, too. Entrepreneurs are generally only concerned with how their own business is faring, but there’s much to be said for keeping tabs on others. They might just make an error that you can learn from, even if you don’t possess the same level of insight as to why it didn’t work out as they do.
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of having an open mind. If there’s one thing that’s detrimental to self-improvement, it’s believing that you have all the answers you need to improve (or that you’re the only one who can come up with the answers). Keep your ears alert to the advice and wisdom of others, no matter the source. You can learn something from your next in command, you can learn something from your lowest ranked employee. This approach will also prevent the ego from getting too big, which is something that harms many a CEO in a creeping manner. Stay humble!
You’re a smart person, you’ve got a lot of strong qualities that’ll help you to make your business a success. But you’re not complete. Never forget that learning is a lifelong process! Make it a priority, and you’ll find that it serves you well in the long run — and might just be the difference between your company becoming one of the businesses that fold within three years, or a long-term success.
*This is a contributed post