Small Business Success: 5 Skills to Master
November 19, 2018
Owning a small business can be simultaneously rewarding, exciting, and terrifying. After all, you are largely in charge of your own success or lack thereof. So why do some small business owners thrive in their endeavors while others struggle?
Most successful small business owners start with solid business plans, capable and dedicated employees, and an inner drive to work toward reaching their goals. Entrepreneurs with thriving small businesses also have something else in common: They have identified and mastered key skills that enable them to consistently meet or exceed their goals. Those skills include building their brand, problem solving, communication, strategic planning, and organization. Read on to learn more about these five skills that contribute to entrepreneurial success and how you can build and hone these skills to help your business thrive.
1. Building Your Brand
Branding refers to your efforts to get potential customers to associate your business with your company or franchise’s name, logo, and reputation in your community. Your branding or lack thereof can make or break your business. Even if you run a successful franchise with an established and recognizable corporate brand, you still need to be able to shape and maintain your own personal brand.
Networking is one of the best ways to achieve this. While some small business owners shy away from networking, it’s an invaluable skill that cannot be overemphasized. Not only does it help you meet others in your industry, you will also have the opportunity to learn branding best practices and gather advice from some of the most skilled small business owners.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider joining or starting a formal business networking group in your community. You may also benefit from joining your local chamber of commerce, Rotary Club, or other business association. These types of organizations often feature business networking events and opportunities to connect with potential customers and referral sources.
2. Problem Solving
Even the most successful small business owners encounter problems or obstacles from time to time. The way you address and resolve those issues can affect the success of your business in both short- and long-term ways. You may have to make critical decisions under time-sensitive, high-stress conditions.
Becoming a better problem solver takes time and practice, but these suggestions can help you react and respond appropriately:
- Remain calm, and try to focus on addressing the problem at hand without getting bogged down with what went wrong. You should address the why and the how of the situation after the fact; focus first on resolving the issue. This can keep the problem from getting worse.
- Brainstorm possible solutions, and engage others as appropriate. Keeping an open mind can help you recognize solutions you would not have considered otherwise. Sometimes, the most effective and appropriate solution is the simplest one.
- Try to approach problems—and their solutions—neutrally, without judgment or preconceived ideas about how to resolve them.
3. Verbal and Written Communication
Effective small business owners are also effective communicators. It’s important to be able to express yourself clearly to those with whom you regularly interact. When communication breaks down, problems occur, leaving customers dissatisfied, employees feeling unappreciated, and others believing you don’t care about your business relationships.
On the flip side, being able to communicate well can strengthen all those relationships, ultimately helping you grow your business.
To improve your communication skills, work on your listening skills. Try to understand what people are telling you, so you can respond appropriately. Professional development courses can help you learn to write more concisely or give you a chance to practice public speaking in a low-stress setting and get feedback from others.
4. Strategic Thinking and Planning
If you don’t have a solid plan for where you want your business to be in six months, one to five years, or even longer, your business isn’t likely to succeed in the long run. While you need to think about the “right now,” you also need to think about the future. How might the seemingly small decisions you make today affect your business down the road?
Small business owners who have mastered the art of strategic thinking and planning look at their businesses from different angles. Thinking strategically allows you to create a vision and mission for your business, set measurable goals, and identify the steps you must take to achieve your vision.
To improve your strategic thinking and planning skills, carve out time on your calendar each month or each quarter to review your short-term and long-term goals. Consider whether you are on track to meet those goals. If you need to take action to get back on track, be deliberate and carefully evaluate your options before deciding on a path toward your future successes.
5. Organization and Time Management
Successful small business owners organize their days and weeks to be as efficient as possible. Don’t feel you have to handle everything yourself. Good time management includes delegating tasks to staff.
While you, as the owner, are responsible for what happens in your business, you’ll be more effective if you share the load and involve employees, contractors, or others in building your business. Delegating to others not only empowers them, but it also frees up your time to lead the business and work on revenue-generating activities.
Work on your delegation skills by identifying which tasks you actually need to perform yourself and which ones might be better completed by someone else. Identify your employees’ skills and delegate tasks by aligning them with each person’s skill set, strengths, and interests. You’ll maximize your own efficiency while helping develop your employees’ skills. Remember to provide instructions as needed beforehand and offer constructive feedback when tasks have been completed.
Continuous Learning Is the Key for Endless Opportunities
Master these skills—and don’t just stop there. When it comes to successful entrepreneurs, the learning never ends. No matter what industry you are in or what products or services you offer, you should continuously build upon and evolve your business and leadership skills—doing so is what makes a leader great and allows for endless career possibilities.
If small business entrepreneurship is your dream, consider an opportunity as an Allstate Agency Owner so you can truly put your skills to work. You’ll already have a head start with the support of a well-respected brand; earn equity in the business you build with opportunities to sell or pass it down someday, and you’ll be able to make a real difference in your community. To learn more, visit www.allstateagent.com or contact a recruiter today at 877.711.1015.
Subject to all terms and conditions as outlined in the Allstate R3001 Exclusive Agency Agreement and Exclusive Agency program materials. Allstate agents are not franchisees; rather, they are exclusive agent independent contractors and are not employed by Allstate. Allstate is an Equal Opportunity Company. Allstate Insurance Company, 2775 Sanders Road, Northbrook, IL 60062. In New Jersey, Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company, Bridgewater, NJ. ©2019 Allstate Insurance Co.