I recall a child on a TV game show for academically gifted children saying “you have to know a lot about some things and a little bit about everything”. That is pretty much the territory when it comes to succeeding in business. Most people come to business with technical or specific skills on which they base their business and add some general ability in certain areas to that. These general skills are referred to as soft skills because they are incredibly transferrable and also referred to as micro-skills because they can be learnt in small incremental steps. Below are 6 micro or soft skills that will set you up for business success.
Understanding the sales funnel/pipeline
We should all have an appreciation of how important understanding sales is to anyone in business. It’s critical. Especially if you are going to start a business one of the most important things to work on is how you are going to get people to exchange money for your product. You need not be a maverick salesperson who can sell water to a well. However, understanding how the sales funnel (or pipeline) works will give you a greater appreciation of the task of selling from a birds’ eye view.
Communication is one of those things that everyone rambles about but is hard to pinpoint. So when we say communication here it’s more than one thing. Communicating effectively is key because you will do a lot of communicating but more importantly, you will communicate with many different types of people in many capacities. Employees, investors, customers, suppliers, partners, authorities, stakeholders and more depending on how far you go. Communication involves written and spoken communication so you will look at areas like copywriting and speaking to get this right.
Another activity that businesses spend a lot of time and money on is marketing. Marketing is an incredibly deep and wide area. Add digital marketing to the mix, which is part and parcel of modern business and you have a complex area. However, marketing’s importance to businesses cannot be understated. Marketing isn’t just raising awareness about your business or product, it’s also how you get feedback from the market about your product and where you get insights that show you opportunities to pursue or changes to make. A business is a complex organism that involves balancing your activities to achieve the best bottom line.
Networking is a term that means different things to different people I suppose. Many people picture the movies when we discuss business networking. People in suits and dresses having cocktails and discussing billion-dollar deals. I’m not going to say that doesn’t happen somewhere but it is only one representation of networking. Networking is all about relating to people and connecting with them. It’s about creating connections with people that you can use or leverage to get things going. You network within your organisation, community, institutions, industry and other settings. Learning how to network effectively will boost what you can do in business without a doubt.
Project management is nowhere near a new idea but it has certainly grown in popularity and adoption with time. Nowadays organisations fully accept that they operate on a project basis, whether big or small. Understanding project management techniques and being able to use them in business can truly set you apart. Project management techniques cover budgeting, scheduling, procedures and documentation, all key elements in business. Project management will teach you a lot about coordinating competing resources to the benefit of the organisation.
Of course, understanding finances are important to business as well. You need not be a complete finance expert who knows every little rule and law but rather someone who firstly understands the meaning of your financial landscape. This will you help you understand the financial impact of decisions and changes. In business, you should always consult someone well versed in these areas but you will not understand them if you are not financially literate, to begin with.
While some of these skills do have formal education routes that include certification what you want to learn here is the skill. If certification floats your boat then pursue it but what you need here is an understanding of the skills.