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Skills for running a small business

SKILLS FOR RUNNING A SMALL BUSINESS

There are a number of skills required to run a business. You will need to use the skills you have and probably develop new ones as well

It is often not possible for one person to have all the skills, in this case you might consider taking on staff or perhaps a partner to fill the gaps

What kind of skills do you think are needed to run a business?

  1. Skills relating to products or services
  2. Management skills
  3. Recording and checking performance skills
  4. Selling skills
  5. Administration skills
  6. Previous experience, although not a skill will help
  7. The ability to recognise your own strengths and weaknesses

1. Skills relating to products and/or services

Some products or services require specialist skills to produce or provide

Even if you buy your products or services in, the people in your business that deal with customers still need a detailed knowledge of what is on offer

You will need to think about these skills for your business, do you have them, are you planning to develop them, or are you going to employ someone who has them?

2. Management skills

Henry Fayol suggested there are 5 primary functions of management, to be a successful manager you will need to have or develop skills in these areas.

  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Leading
  • Co-ordinating
  • Controlling (processes, performance etc, NOT people)

Some people now think Fayol's ideas are a bit old fashioned, however the basic principles of management remain the same

A more modern writer, Katz, identified 3 main components to being a good manager

  • Technical skills about the product or service
  • Human skills, interacting with others and leading effectively
  • Conceptual skills, coming up with new ideas, decision making and problem solving

3. Recording and checking performance skills

One of the main roles of a business owner is to monitor how well the business is doing so that things can be changed if needed

§ Performance standards need to be set, these should relate back to the aims and objectives and be SMART

§ Actual performance is measured, information is collected. What information would your business need to collect?

§ Actual performance is compared to the standards, if they are being met no further action is needed

§ Corrective action is taken where required

§ How good are you at following this kind of process, do you have an eye for detail, are you likely to follow up and measure? You will need to make use of your organisational and analytical skills

4. Selling skills

As a small business owner you may need to use personal selling to get your potential customers to buy

  • Good communication skills
  • Persuasion skills
  • An awareness of buying signals from customers (Observational skills)
  • The ability to close a sale (Negotiation Skills)
  • Good listening skills
  • Identifying product needs in the customer
  • Good product knowledge
  • A lot of these skills can be learnt if you don't have them

5. Administration skills

.
  • Administration skills are vital to any business. To be good at administration you need to have a logical approach, be well organised, pay attention to detail and have good communication skills
  • Accurate organisation of customer files and data
  • Letter writing, faxing, emails, telephone calls etc (Technological skills)
  • Preparation and dispatch of invoices, paying bills
  • Managing budgets

6. Previous experience (although not a skill, this would be useful)

  • If you have already worked in a similar company or related business this will help you. Also if you are basing your idea around a hobby or interest this may also give you some expertise
  • If you have worked in a similar business you may have seen problems in that one that help you to avoid them yourself

7. Strengths and Weaknesses

No-one is good at everything so you need to be honest about what you can and can't do

Recognising your strengths will help you build the business around things you are good at

Weaknesses should not be ignored. Once you are aware of them it's important to implement a strategy to either eliminate them or prevent them from undermining the business

  • Training - you could enroll on a course, possibly with a local college. There are also lots of companies around that specialise in training so you might be able to contact one of them. Beware though, sometimes they can be very expensive, particularly if they are specialised
  • Take on a partner - if they compliment your skills this may be a good idea. There may be no upfront expense associated with this but they will expect a share of the profits
  • Do some business networking - this is where you attend events that attract other business people, you can talk to them, make contacts, get advice and possibly sales leads as well. For most small businesses this is an excellent option. Business Link, Chamber of Commerce and trade associations are sources that can help with this
  • Employees - you could always advertise for an employee with particular skills. Specialist employees may expect  higher salaries so could be expensive

There are a number of areas that you can get professional help in. It can be really expensive so be sure you know what you're getting into before you commit. What kind of professions do you think can help?

  • Business consultants - you can employ experienced business people who will share their expertise and knowledge
  • Accountants - Most small businesses will need to employ a professional accountant, particularly to set up the legal status of the business and produce the annual accounts
  • Solicitors - will advise on any legal matters, contracts and the like with regards to the business
  • Business Link - an organisation set up by the government (Department for Trade and Industry), they offer services similar to business consultants but because they are government funded they are cheaper. You may have to wait for them, they are generally very busy

You are now ready to do a skills audit. You need to perform an objective and accurate assessment of your suitability and the skills you possess to run the business you have chosen. You need to appraise your own skills and abilities honestly and identify any gaps

For the first part you need to compile a list of the skills needed to run your business and a realistic assessment of whether or not you have them at the moment.

You now need to put an outline job description together that describes the skills needed to run your business.

Skills relating to products or services

A keen interest in the product sold by my business shal be a necessity n the working of the company, Also a ability to know the whole of the procut along with it's functionality shall also be required. It would also be needed that a ability to answer customer demands in regards to a product, to run the business smoothly. Obvioulsy therefore in light of this a ability to use and demonstrate the product shall be required along with a ability to market the product as well as the business enteprie itself.

Management skills

Team management shall be needed when running my business, especially in the field of marketing. Whereby groups of ndividuals shall market the product outside the company, and therefore good management technique shall need to be drawn upon. Furthermore to this senior management shall be needed to direct the company and it's product as the business gros and develops. This ability to lead the business shal undoubtably be a massive requirement in regards to moving th company forward in the future.

Recording and checking performance skills

Recording and checking the companies performance shall be a necessity as in any other eneterprise. Particularly in the business of a new innovative product, market analysis and checking shll be a hugely needed requirement. Furthermore a ability to check company financial performance shall be needed to ensure the company is hitting projected performance targets as a whole.

Selling skills

A strong ability to sell the product of which we sell shall be neededwithin my business, for I't continued success. A ability to sell the product in bulk orders would be preferable and also to sel the product in a friendly manner too. Also when sales are lost an ability to record and suggest how the sale went wrong shall also b e a required skillset.

Administration skills

Administration skills as in any business shall be critically important. In order to run my business successfully a srong administration skillset shall be needed. This shall allow for all paperwork and smaller tasks within the business to all be completed to a standard that ensures the company in kept up-to-date in all it's work and legality documents.

Previous experience, although not a skill will be useful

Internal audit

Strengths

Weaknesses

External audit

Opportunities

Threats

Skills Assessment

Team Member (Anonymous)

Skill

Administration

Skill

Management

Skill

Selling

Skill

Product Knowledge

Skill

Operations

Skill

Customer Service

1

3

3

2

3

5

3

2

4

4

2

2

4

3

3

5

3

1

2

5

2

4

3

2

2

3

4

1

Tally

Priority

Rating Scale 1-5 (1=Good, 5=Poor)

Statement 1

Your selling skills within your business at the momen it's it's greatest quality. However it's clear that the area of operations can greatly do with improvement

Statement 2

Operations is a poor area of your business to date, in terms of how everything works and things fit together however management like selling is a better quality existing.

Statement 3

Your customer service at the moment is good, however a better knowledge of the products you shall would be of greater use and further help your customer service.

Statement 4

Your management skills however currently good there's a great amount of room for improvement in this skillset. This can be achieved by leading your employees more effectively of which shall also cross over and improve your results for the operations section of your business.

Skills I need to run my business

Do I currently have these

Evidence

Selling Skills in regards to the product

Good Customer Service

I feel that currently my selling skills are of a good standard however would greatly need improvement in the future. In order to run my product based business to a successful level. It' key therefore that this skill is worked upon and developed.

Along with a ability to sell, with my business being around a product good customer service shall be essential. It shall be preferred that I develop a good level of customer service skills that are used throughout my business.

Selling products within young enterprise group.

Speaking to customers of young enterprise and helping with order placements.

Skills I need to develop

Purpose for development

How will I achieve this

By When

Need to develop operations skills

To improve my ability to work a business. And to get it functioning towards a objective. Allowing for the business to run smoothly and operate successfully. This shall be key in ensuring my business is of a good working level and leads to a strong company as a whole.

I shall achieve this by working on the area of operations within a business. I shall therefore take roles relating to operations more frequently and work in those areas with great care in order to improve within that particular area.

I aim to achieve this particular goal by February 2010.

Target

Review point 1:  February 2010

Date achieved

Evidence

If not achieved how  can you achieve them in the future

Target

Review point 1: April 2010

Date achieved

Evidence

If not achieved how  can you achieve them in the future


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