The 9 essential entrepreneur skills you need to succeed
It's not easy to run a small business. Fortunately, there are some key strategies entrepreneurs can call upon to improve their entrepreneur skills.
A good approach to learning how to run a business more effectively is to start with small, immediate improvements and build momentum for bigger changes.
Here are nine strategies every entrepreneur can use right away to become more successful at small business management.
1. Make strategic planning a top priority
Entrepreneurs often make strategic decisions in the heat of the moment without proper planning. That can be a recipe for disaster, especially when your business is growing fast. You need a formal strategic plan—a document where you review and detail your company present position, state your goals, identify potential obstacles and establish an action plan to follow.
2. Keep a close eye on your competitors
Regardless of your company's market position, you have to consistently analyze and monitor your competition's moves, strategies, strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your competitors doesn’t necessarily mean that you understand them. Entrepreneurs need to benchmark their activities against the competition and strive to find ways to differentiate themselves.
3. Work to broaden your client base
One of the most common risks small and medium-sized businesses face is being dependent on one or two major clients. It’s important to be aware that businesses can fail after losing their biggest client.
4. Stay close to your customers
Touch base regularly with both key customers and employees who work directly with them. Listen to their suggestions and follow up.
Closely watch gross profit margin for each of your products and don't hesitate to remove poor performers from your mix. Entrepreneurs don’t need to carry products with no or low profit margins when there’s no return for them.
6. Develop a cash-flow planner
Many entrepreneurs outsource financial management to their accountant. This can cause them to lose track of their cash flow.
Take an hour and record your month-opening bank account balance and all anticipated cash inflows and outflows. Then, track your cash as it comes in and goes out each day. Now you have a tool that allows you to keep close tabs on how your business is doing and can respond quickly when required.
7. Call your bankers
Regardless of whether you're in the market for a commercial loan or not, it's a good policy to keep in touch with your bankers. Build trust and credibility by keeping your bankers up to date on developments in the business, including realistic short and long-term cash flow projections.
8. Get started early on HR management
Too often, entrepreneurs think human resources management is only for larger companies. Even if you have only one employee, you are managing people and this is HR.
Establish and document clear company policies and detailed job descriptions. Also, schedule regular meetings with employees to communicate goals, progress and ask for their ideas on how to meet challenges in your business.
9. Consider your website a member of the sales team
Your website is a member of your sales team and should be held accountable to meet targets.
Assess your website with this free BDC tool to see where improvements are most needed.