A Guide to Mastering Essential Business Skills and Improving Your Professional Potential!
Business skills allow individuals to thrive in the workplace and make meaningful strategic contributions. Whether you’re a business owner or an employee, possessing certain competencies can help you positively impact the efficiency, performance and productivity of an organization. Understanding these capabilities and how to hone your expertise can help you qualify for a variety of corporate roles.
In this article, we define what business skills are, provide a list of six examples, describe how you can improve them and review how to highlight them throughout the application process.
What are business skills?
Business skills are competencies that help people understand consumer habits and organizational behavior so they can use this information to promote the success of the company. Business skills typically qualify as soft skills and may include leadership and communication skills. These skills are particularly important for entrepreneurs, company owners and managers. However, employers in a variety of fields may look for candidates who possess a combination of both business and technical skills. There are several categories of business skills, including:
Time management skills
Sales and marketing skills
Financial management skills
Business skills may 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. Employers typically expect individuals in management to delegate tasks and communicate with team members confidently.
Related: 5 Key Tips for Improving Your Time Management Skills
Why are business skills important?
Business skills are important because they’re a fundamental component of starting, operating and managing a successful organization. If you’re 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 distinguish you from other individuals in your field and help you advance your career. These competencies can also allow you to help an organization with the following tasks:
Maintaining high product quality
Building excellent customer relations and customer care standards
Increasing performance, productivity and profits through efficient planning, management and implementation of business aims and goals
Forming a reliable financial base and maintaining a prudent financial policy
Maintaining a positive and productive company culture
Motivating employees to improve their performance
Establishing profitable sales and marketing channels
Related: Guide to Company Culture
6 examples of business skills
There are a variety of business skills you can possess to help you succeed in the workplace. While some types of businesses or positions may require specific talents, several skills are common across industries. Here are six business skills you can benefit from mastering, regardless of the industry in which you work:
1. Team building and team management
Achieving a business goal typically begins with the ability to select and manage an efficient team. Knowing how to choose qualified and skilled candidates, assign tasks and motivate your colleagues can help your team members improve their performance. Possessing strong team-building and management skills can help you support others and ensure they work collaboratively towards a shared objective.
Related: 17 Benefits of Team Building for Your Organization
It’s important for both business owners and managers to be able to communicate effectively with employees, other managers, consumers and other individuals involved in day-to-day business operations. Effective communication skills include both verbal and written capabilities and can allow individuals to share information with a variety of audiences. Possessing strong communication skills can allow teams to:
Effectively negotiating to mediate disputes
Composing clear and concise emails
Confidently speaking in both one-on-one settings and large groups
Keeping communication open between yourself and other employees
Relay the goals of a project and the steps required to complete it
Related: Top 10 Communication Skills for Career Success
Managers and business owners are typically able to distribute tasks effectively to individuals and teams depending on their abilities and proven strengths. Effective delegation means balancing freedom and responsibility. It’s important for employees to have adequate freedom to accomplish tasks but also the responsibility and accountability to achieve desired results according to corporate deadlines.
Related: Delegation Types and Skills for Delegation Examples
As a business grows, managers may want to hire team members and be able to provide them with a corporate vision and distinct goals to achieve. Strategic leadership may require managers to understand how to offer employees and teams an actionable plan and the motivation to complete it. Besides business owners, leadership skills are also helpful for those in supervisor positions to maintain effective day-to-day operations and motivate the employees they oversee.
Related: Identifying Leadership Potential and Building Leadership Skills
5. Financial management
Business owners and those in management positions are often required to have financial management skills to understand and manage the company’s financial needs effectively. Financial management skills include the ability to analyze the current market, understand investment benefits and risks, effectively budget and identify anything that’s negatively impacting the company’s financial health. In addition to business owners, positions that may require financial management skills include business analysts, accountants and bank employees.
Related: Financial Management: Purpose, Daily Functions and Examples
6. Project management
Projects in the workplace usually have specific timelines, milestones, budgets and end goals. Project management skills enable you to handle day-to-day tasks effectively and track the overall progress of a project. Cost control and timely completion are two important aspects of project management skills.
Related: Project Management Glossary: 56 Terms To Know in 2022
Tips to improve business skills
With research and practice, you can learn and regularly implement business knowledge and expertise into your day-to-day work life. Here are some tips to help you improve your business skills:
Consider researching the business skills that other employees in your industry possess, and the competencies that employers look for in a candidate. Determine which skills you already have and which skills you can improve. Regularly researching and studying business skills can also help to keep your skills updated and allow you to remain aware of current and emerging business trends.
Related: Popular Business Trends of the Next 10 Years
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 may 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 allows you to choose the person who has the experience and skills from which you most benefit.
Related: How To Find a Mentor in 8 Steps (Plus Mentorship Tips)
Read business books
There are a variety of books about business skills and performance that you can read to broaden your knowledge and understanding of this topic. Consider reviewing the syllabus for a business school course to identify relevant reading materials and stay updated with the latest business trends. You may be able to find these on a university’s website. You can also checklists of best-selling business books to find helpful resources.
Related: The 20 Best Business Books
Take a business skills course or class
A great way to improve your business skills is to take a course or class. Many courses are available online, and you may be able to enroll in certain classes for free. This can help you familiarize yourself with relevant terminology and concepts and allow to you develop your business-related strengths.
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 straightforwardly listing your business skills is key to making a good first impression with a potential employer. Here are a few ways you can best highlight your business skills:
Business skills for resumes
Use your resume to highlight the skills you possess and outline why you’re the right candidate for your prospective role. Include a list of your business-related strengths to make it easy for a hiring manager to identify and review them. You can also discuss how you used these competencies in previous roles to help employers grow and succeed.
Business skills for cover letters
Your cover letter is an effective way to outline your most valuable business skills and make a positive first impression on a hiring manager. Review the job description and identify the most important business skills for the position, and include those in a brief and easy-to-read paragraph.
This can show your prospective employer that you understand their expectations and possess the competencies they’re looking for in a candidate. You can also use this application document to highlight to include what you know about the company and describe why you’re a good fit for the position.
Business skills for interviews
To highlight your business skills or acumen during an interview, arrive prepared to discuss several examples of how you’ve successfully used or gained skills in the past. Use the STAR interview response technique, which stands for situation, task, action and result, to answer your interviewer’s questions in a way that shows the skills you possess, how you used them and the positive contributions you made to previous employers. This ensures you’re giving effective answers to common questions.
8 Qualities of Strong Leadership and How To Become a Stronger Leader
Every workplace, no matter the size, can benefit from having a solid foundation of leadership. A strong leader can make a large difference in how a company operates and how the members of a team work together toward the same goal. With strong leadership, a workforce can expect employees to be happy and fulfilled by their work, and for there to be a level of trust among coworkers. In this article, we discuss what strong leadership is, its benefits, the qualities of strong leadership and how you can become a stronger leader.
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What is strong leadership?
Strong leadership is when you can encourage, motivate, inspire and challenge your team to produce their best work. Strong leadership connects a team together through a common purpose and builds relationships in the workplace that allow for effective communication, more creativity and better problem-solving skills.
Read more: How To Become a Successful Team Leader
Benefits of strong leadership
How leadership operates is one of the most important parts of any business. Here are just some benefits of having strong leadership in the workplace:
Under strong leadership, employees are more likely to take pride in their work because they realize how important their role is and want to be a valuable member of the team. They may even produce work with fewer errors. Employees take on the opportunity to help their teammates to meet a due date or fine-tune a project for a client.
More trust and confidence among employees
Strong leaders help to develop a workplace culture where employees can rely on each other and trust that everyone is performing their job as they should. Employees trust each other, can approach each other for support and have confidence that everyone in the group is working toward the same goal. Employees also have the confidence that their leader will be there for them should they have any issues or need help to complete a task.
Ability to thrive through adversity
In any workplace, it’s normal to experience unexpected, stressful or confusing situations that can include anything from an upset customer to the company going through a merger. However, with strong leadership in place, the team has the resources to pivot, accounting for any changes and coming up with viable solutions. Because strong leaders communicate company news, it may be easier for employees to understand the direction a company is going and how they play a part in its success.
Because a strong leader forms a team where everyone is celebrated for their skills and occupies appropriate roles for their experience levels and what they enjoy doing, a company can thrive. A strong leader has a vision and works with their team to see it come to fruition. They’ll be better able to attract top talent and build processes that support the company mission and goals, both of which help grow the organization.
A strong leader inspires their employees individually and as a group. This leads to increased morale, lower employee turnover and a positive workplace culture. Employees will be happy going to work and take pride in what they do.
Video: Visionary Leadership Style Explained
Jenn, a Career Coach, explains the visionary leadership style in management and provides examples to help you identify if this style is right for you.
Qualities and characteristics of strong leadership
There are certain characteristics of strong leadership. Here is what you can expect from strong leaders:
Self-awareness: Strong leaders are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. They don’t hesitate to admit if they don’t have the answers or don’t have the experience with something. They also rely on members of their team and their complementary skills. Strong leaders are humble and happy to learn from those around them.
Vision: They can see ahead to what they can do to grow the company and their team, and work on doing just that by supporting and encouraging those they work with. Strong leaders look toward the long-term future rather than only come up with short-term solutions.
Perspective: A strong leader appreciates the differences among employees. They understand that everyone has certain skills, and they develop ways for teammates to work together for maximum productivity. They appreciate different viewpoints, encourage their team to share their opinions and actively seek creative solutions.
Support: You’ll find that strong leadership also means that every member of a team feels supported. This is because strong leaders authentically engage their team, learn what motivates them and develops a culture where open communication is encouraged.
Coaching: Strong leaders want to develop strong teams and they realize that the way to do this is by continuing to invest in their team and each member that’s a part of it. You can find strong leaders coaching their employees by providing constructive feedback and providing training opportunities that allow their staff to grow their knowledge and skills.
Results: Even though strong leaders are people-oriented, they are also results-oriented. They work hard to blend the two so that their team is cohesive and wants to see results, too. Strong leaders develop clear guidelines and goals and work alongside their team toward a common purpose.
Passion: Strong leaders really want to see their teams and organizations succeed. They are more likely to connect a company’s goals with everyday tasks and show their team the bigger picture. They believe in the company and inspire those around them.
Accountability: A strong leader holds themselves, each team member and the team as a collective accountable for their actions. This inspires employees to do the same, resulting in higher-quality work. To hold the team accountable, strong leaders understand that they must equip their team with the tools to do their job effectively and efficiently.
How to become a stronger leader
If you want to realize all the benefits of strong leadership, it’s important to learn how to become a strong leader. Here are just some items to consider if you want to grow in your leadership role:
Get to know your team
If you want to become a stronger leader, it’s important to get to know the people who you’ll be leading. The process of getting to know them may involve planning outings with team-building activities that emphasize working together, or you may want to schedule one-on-one time to chat with each member of the team. Some leaders select many ways to connect with members of their team. No matter which path you choose, explore how you can learn more about everyone who works alongside you.
Consider asking them about their goals, aspirations at work, their needs and their wants. Show that you’re committed to helping them achieve everything they’re hoping for. Through having these meetings, you’ll come to understand what motivates each person and you’ll be better able to lead them as a result.
Admit to mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes, including leaders. Employees want to see that their leader isn’t afraid to admit that they have made an error. If you’ve messed up a report or made a poor decision about the direction to take a project, think about addressing it with the team so they can see that, despite holding yourself to a high standard, you are also subject to human error. This shows your employees that you know mistakes happen and if they have one, you’ll be by their side to correct it with them.
Read more: Steps To Take After Making Mistakes at Work
Honesty is one of the qualities that employees value the most in their leader. Once someone on your team feels that you’re honest, deeming you trustworthy is soon to follow. It’s important for your employees to know that you operate with integrity and that you want to inspire them to do the same. You can display your honesty in a number of ways, including being open to giving an employee constructive feedback on their performance, keeping the team abreast of company news and admitting when you just don’t have all the answers.
Communicate with your team
Strong leaders rarely sit in their offices with the door closed all day. Instead, you’re likely to see them among their team, working alongside them to finish a project on time or brainstorm solutions to problems. Establish an open line of communication where you can ask how a task is going and an employee feels comfortable using your open-door policy if they need to. The communication you offer to your team should inspire them, motivate them and let them know that you know and appreciate their value.
Effective communication isn’t just one-sided — listening is part of it, too. To communicate with your team, listen to what they have to say, ask questions, look them in the eyes and empathize with a stressful situation they may have come to you with. Also, take the time to observe how members of your team speak to each other.
Read more: Q&A: Why Is Communication Important?
You can also become a strong leader by having some fun at work. There may be tight deadlines, upset customers or a failed marketing campaign, but with the right culture, the team has the resources to take most setbacks in stride. When the team can laugh together and enjoy each other’s company, it’s easier and more fulfilling to work together, and you would have earned some respect as being a leader that employees actually want to follow.
Provide coaching and training
Employees appreciate having a leader who values the work they do and wants to invest in them. One way to do that is by actively providing coaching where you discuss their job performance and provide helpful feedback on how they can get to the next level. Consider establishing a peer-to-peer coaching program so employees can learn from their coworkers.
Also, if there are conferences, webinars, panel discussions or networking events specific to your industry, think about offering your employees the opportunity to attend. Consider not only letting them go to relevant events but encouraging them to attend training that focuses on a topic that is complementary to their current work tasks. This will show that you have faith in their abilities to grow their responsibilities and learn a new tool or process.
Encourage your team
By encouraging your team, you are creating a supportive work environment that employees will appreciate. Most everyone wants to receive recognition for a job well done alongside encouragement to keep going. Employees want to know that their manager believes in them and trusts them to make important workplace decisions. If a member of the team lacks the confidence to apply for a promotion or to share their idea during team meetings, your encouragement can go a long way toward your employee being able to take action on something they may not have felt comfortable with in the past.
You can also encourage your team to think outside of the box, drawing on their creative side to come up with unique solutions. The more encouragement you provide, the more employees trust that you want what’s best for them and will look up to you as a strong leader and ally in the workplace.
Show your passion
If you show your passion for the company, your team and the work you do, your staff should follow. A strong leader inspires others by their actions and general attitude. Especially at work, it’s important to show that you believe in the company’s values and want to operate by them while you lead your team.