6 Business Skills You Need and How to Improve Them
January 3, 2020
Business skills are an important component of workplace success. Whether you are a business owner or an employee, possessing certain business skills can positively impact the efficiency, performance and productivity of the company. In this article, we discuss what business skills are, examples of business skills in the workplace and how you can improve your business skillset.
What are business skills?
Business skills are skills that help people understand consumer and organizational behavior and use this information to promote the success of the company. Business skills are often considered soft skills and may include team management, leadership and communication skills. These skills are primarily important for entrepreneurs, company owners and managers, however, more and more employers look for job candidates who possess a combination of both business and technical skills.
Specific examples of business skills include:
- Time management skills
- Team-building skills
- Analytical skills
- Negotiation skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Sales and marketing skills
- Financial management skills
Business skills will vary between company type and industry. For example, a person working in the finance industry may be required to have business skills that include being able to produce financial reports and analyze the market. Someone who works in management should be able to properly delegate and communicate with team members.
Why are business skills important?
Business skills are a fundamental component of starting, running and managing a successful business. If you are a business owner, these skills equip you with the ability to meet the needs of both your consumers and employees. As a potential or current employee, business skills can set you apart from other workers and help you advance within your career.
Additionally, your business or career can benefit from business skills by allowing you or your company to:
Maintain high product quality
Build excellent customer relations and customer care standards
Increase performance, productivity and profits through efficient planning, management and implementation of business aims and goals
Form a sound financial base and maintain a prudent financial policy
Maintain a positive and productive company culture
Motivate employees to perform at their best
Establish profitable sales and marketing channels
Examples of business skills
There are several different business skills that you can learn and practice in the workplace. While some types of businesses or positions may require different business skills, there are several skills that are common across industries. Here are a few examples of business skills that you can benefit from, regardless of the industry you work in:
- Team building and team management
- Financial management
- Project management
Team building and team management
Achieving a business goal often begins with the ability to select and manage an efficient team. Knowing how to choose the most appropriate team, assign tasks and motivate your workers can result in your employees performing at peak levels. The better you are at team management and team building, the more able your team will be to perform as a harmonious unit and work unitedly towards a common cause.
Both business owners and managers should be able to effectively communicate with employees, other managers, consumers and other individuals involved in day-to-day business operations. Effective communication skills include both verbal and written and should allow you to clearly communicate information in a way that is easily understandable.
Examples of communication skills include being able to:
- Effectively negotiate to mediate disputes
- Compose clear and concise emails
- Confidently speak in both one-on-one settings and large groups
- Keep communication open between yourself and employees
- Effectively relay the goals of a project and the steps required to complete it
As a manager or business owner, you should be able to effectively distribute work to individuals and teams depending on their abilities and proven strengths. Effective delegation means striking a balance between freedom and responsibility. Your employees and teams should be given adequate freedom to accomplish tasks, but also the responsibility and accountability of achieving desired results within deadlines.
This is a key skill of any astute business person. As your business grows, you will likely need to hire people and be able to provide them with a vision and mission as well as concrete goals to achieve. Leadership is often strategic in nature and requires you to understand how to offer your employees and teams an actionable plan and the motivation to complete it. In addition to business owners, leadership skills are also needed by those in management positions to maintain effective day-to-day operations.
Business owners and those in management positions are often required to have financial management skills to effectively understand and manage the company’s financial needs. Financial management skills include the ability to analyze the current market, understand investment benefits and risks, timely and effectively budget and identify anything that is negatively impacting the company’s bottom line. In addition to business owners, positions that may require financial management skills include business analysts, accountants and bank employees.
Projects in the workplace often have specific timelines, milestones, budgets and end goals. Project management skills enable you to effectively handle day-to-day efforts as well as the overall progress of a project. Cost control and timely completion are two important aspects of project management skills.
How to improve business skills
With research and practice, you can learn and regularly implement business skills into your day-to-day work life. The following are tips on how you can start improving your business skills today:
Research: Take some time to read up on the most valuable business skills needed in your industry. Determine which skills you already have and which skills you could improve. Regularly researching and studying business skills can also help to keep your skills up-to-date and allow you to remain abreast of the current and emerging business trends.
Find a mentor: Having a mentor who has extensive business experience can provide you with the guidance needed to develop professionally. Mentors can give you both advice and support and help you determine which business skills will most benefit you in your current or desired career. When deciding on a mentor, first set clear goals of what you wish to gain from the relationship. This will allow you to choose the person who has the experience and skills that you will most benefit from.
Read business books: There are several helpful books on business skills that you can read to broaden your knowledge and understanding of this topic. A great way to find valuable business books that are worth your time is to search for books currently being read by business school students.
Take a business skills course or class: A great way to improve your business skills to take a course or class. Many courses are available online, and some are even free of charge, making it convenient and affordable to fit into your schedule.
How to highlight business skills
When applying for jobs, highlighting your business skills on your cover letter and resume can help set you apart from other candidates. Clearly listing your business skills in a straightforward manner is key to making a good first impression in a potential employer’s mind. Here are a few ways you can best highlight your business skills:
Business skills for resume
Your resume should include a section that highlights your most important skills that relate to the position you are applying for. Your list of business skills should be written in a simple and clear manner so that the hiring manager can follow it effortlessly. Arrange your skills in a logical structure that makes it easy to follow your progress in mastering those skills. Focus on including the business skills that are specifically listed in the job description or that you know the employer is looking for.
Business skills for cover letter
Your cover letter is an effective way to quickly and concisely convey your most valuable business skills to a potential employer. Select the most important business skills for the position, and include those in a brief and easy-to-read paragraph. Be sure to also include what you know about the company as well as how you will be a good fit for the position you are applying for.
Business skills for an interview
To highlight your business skills or acumen during an interview, arrive prepared to discuss several examples of how you have successfully used or gained these skills in the past. Use the STAR interview response technique to answer your interviewer’s questions in a way that shows what skills were needed, how you used them and what the results of your actions were.