A lot of people these days like the idea of starting their own small business, and it is certainly easier than it has ever been before thanks to online technologies. Whether you want to turn a hobby you are passionate about into a source of income, start your own company based on your previous professional skills, or you have a great idea for a start-up, it has never been simpler to actually get started and try and turn your dream into a real enterprise. As the job market has become more and more uncertain in many fields and areas in recent years, many people have turned to entrepreneurship to give themselves the income they need, and many more start businesses that can make a healthy secondary income for them and their families.
However, a lot of people thinking about doing this wonder whether or not the skills they have will be enough to see them through launching and growing a business. Quite often, people with very strong professional skills in their original field, good knowledge of their area of interest, or a very strong concept for a business, are lacking in many of the other areas that actually go into a business. Later on, businesses tend to be able to hire people or use third-party services to pick up the slack, but in the beginning, this isn’t normally an option. It is, therefore, best to gain at least a fundamental knowledge of all the important parts of the business so that you can be confident in what you are doing.
No matter how big or small your plans are, these are some of the things you will be likely to encounter and either need to learn about yourself or get someone in to help you with:
Tax and Financial Management
Naturally, anything you do that makes money will be something the tax man will want his share of, and this can be quite daunting to understand for a lot of new business owners. The amount of tax you pay and what you pay it on will vary depending on where you are based, what style of business you have, and how well you can manage the accounting.
This is one of the areas where it really is strongly recommended to get a professional accountant to help you, as failing to get your taxes right can have devastating consequences for you and your business and additionally, if you try and do it yourself you may actually end up paying more than you have to because you don’t know the various things you can legitimately claim.
Financial management, on the other hand, relates to how you budget for your business and plan how you are going to invest and reinvest. This is something that is definitely advisable to study using online resources so that you know how to do things like making a financial forecast and a budget.
Sales is at the core of any commercial business’s success and is something you really must learn how to do well if you don’t already have the skills. Being able to sell won’t just mean you’ll be able to sell more of your products and services but you will also be better and more confident at doing things like gaining investment into your business. Business people almost always have sales skills, even if they later hire an actual sales force, or have a website or something else automated to handle their actual selling – it is a valuable ability that enables you to convince people of the merits of everything you are offering.
You can learn a lot about sales online or from books, but if you want to get seriously skilled up, it can be a good idea to do a sales course and get some proper sales training. If you’re not sure where to find courses, you can review courses on findcourses.com who have over 200 sales courses available at the moment, along with all kinds of other helpful business courses.
Marketing and Advertising
While tied to sales, advertising and marketing are separate skills. Sales is all about how you get someone to buy, whereas marketing is about building up awareness of your brand, keeping people interested in it, and knowing how to promote yourself.
Marketing can be an area that can be quite daunting to people who are entering into a new business, especially in the modern age when there are so many possibilities and you need to understand all kinds of things like SEO and social media. However, without a good understanding of the marketing approaches that work in your field, your business may never get off the ground, because it doesn’t matter how good you are if nobody knows that you are on the market.
Marketing is something where it can sometimes be best to use a third-party consultancy to handle complex things like SEO for example, but where you can also learn a lot yourself. Because it is so industry dependent, you are best off doing a lot of online research and finding out about how other people with similar businesses do their marketing. Small business forums and social networks can be a good place to find information or ask questions, and business blogs can also be very helpful.
Be aware that online marketing is not the only kind of marketing, and so unless you are planning a business that is 100% online, you may also have to research other things like direct marketing, print marketing, and so on.
The most effective businesses are those who are able to use technology in their favor and gain an edge over their competitors. This can be as simple as knowing how to add an extra useful feature to your website or having an app your customers can use.
How you can best use tech for your business will depend hugely on what you are doing and how much your business is online versus bricks and mortar, but even very physical businesses like restaurants or salons can gain huge advantages when they use things like touchscreen menu systems or online loyalty programs.
At the very least, you will need a website, and fortunately setting one up is now easy enough for most people with normal internet skills to be able to do in an afternoon. You can find lots of great free resources and tutorials to help you get started with making a site, and so this is usually a good investment of your time if you are not planning a heavily online enterprise like a big ecommerce site where you may need to spend more time studying or hire an expert to set it up.
As you can see, the basic skills most entrepreneurs need are quite diverse, and most people aren’t all that confident in all of them when they first get started. Later, you may also need to add things like HR management and business strategy to the list too, as you grow. The best advice is to keep learning as much as you can online and put in the research if you also want to take any training courses that can help you fill any major gaps in skills.