Business Skills (Definition, Examples and Development Tips)
Developing and demonstrating business skills can help you advance in your career. These skills are important for management and leadership jobs and running your own business. They can also help professionals advance in their careers. In this article, we define what business skills are and why they matter, provide some examples and teach you how to develop your business capabilities.
What are business skills?
Business skills are the abilities that keep a business running smoothly and growing. Business capabilities help professionals perform processes that increase a business's chance of success. Professionals with a mix of hard and soft business capabilities are the most successful in management and leadership roles.
Why is business expertise important?
Here are some reasons why business expertise is important:
People with these skills help businesses
People with business capabilities can help companies of all sizes succeed, from small corner shops to multinational firms. These skills are also relevant to businesses in all industry sectors. That means that every company that employs you during your career relies on employees with business expertise.
They can make you more employable
Having business expertise can make you more attractive to organisations. These skills are vital if you are interviewing for a leadership or management role. Employers may also value these skills for entry-level or mid-level jobs if they would like to promote you once you are more experienced.
They are transferable skills
Many business capabilities are also transferable skills that you can apply to a variety of jobs in different businesses and industries. Soft skills for business are usually transferrable skills as they help you interact with other people, including colleagues and customers. Hard business capabilities are transferable to similar positions in different businesses and industries. As business capabilities are transferable, spending time building them can benefit you throughout your career.
Related: 13 Transferable Job Skills That Employers Love
Examples of business capabilities
Here are some examples of common business capabilities relevant to organisations in all industries. Developing the following skills can give you an advantage over other candidates and help you succeed:
Project management is a skill that helps you lead and direct projects from their development to their completion. It involves ensuring projects progress to a set timeline, and meeting milestones at set times before delivery by the deadline. The best project managers know their team members' strengths and feel confident delegating relevant tasks to them. They make sure completed projects achieve set goals and specifications. They stay mindful of project limitations, including the timeline, budget and regulations, when tracking the progress of team members, coordinating tasks and approving purchases.
Relationship building and management
This skill helps you build strong relationships with employees at all levels of the business, project teams, clients, suppliers and external stakeholders. Once you forge these connections, it can help you nurture and strengthen the relationships. Relationship skills may help you relate to people in different ways and provide what they need, such as encouragement, leadership, mentoring and collaboration. Spending time managing your relationships helps you work harmoniously with others. It makes negotiating agreements easier so the business enjoys favourable terms. If a conflict arises, the time you invested in your relationships can help you resolve your issues more quickly.
Related: How to Build Relationships for Career Success
Good financial management helps you manage a business's finances and help them grow. High financial literacy helps you understand the economic market and the benefits and risks of investment options. It also helps you create usable budgets and track spending to ensure it stays within the budget's limitations. Good financial managers understand how to modify budgets and financial practices to help a business grow its finances quickly or operate more conservatively. You may change your approach depending on the economy and business needs.
Written and verbal communication
Strong written and verbal communication skills help you express yourself clearly and share your message with different people. You may simplify concepts when communicating with people from different backgrounds. You may communicate persuasively to convince other people of your point of view. Being a good written communicator helps you write clear reports and documents. Verbal communication skills help you speak confidently during presentations, meetings and interviews. Depending on your role and client base, multilingual communication may be an important business skill.
Related: How to Become an Effective Communicator (Plus Tips)
Entrepreneurship is the ability to develop and run a business to make a profit. This skill is usually linked to business owners, although it's important for anyone who helps a business grow beyond its resources. Entrepreneurship helps you identify available business opportunities and know which ones are more likely to yield positive results at any given time. Your business instincts may encourage you to take the right business risks or behave conservatively at appropriate times. Entrepreneurship can also help you make business decisions confidently using sound judgement and reasoning.
Running a successful business involves solving several issues, such as how to generate capital, grow revenue, appeal to consumers and operate more sustainability. Good problem-solving skills help you identify the issues the business faces and develop smart solutions. You may use proven solutions or create more innovative solutions that you believe may get better results for the business. You may also develop several solutions and trial them to determine which option delivers the best results.
Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples
Being an analytical thinker helps you get meaning from the information you receive. You can take research or raw data and understand its significance. This can help you understand the business' performance and how it compares to competitors. It can also help you predict what may come for the business and either capitalise on it or make adjustments for better results.
Strategic thinking helps you guide a business into the future and improve its chances of long-term success. When you think strategically, you set long-term goals and consider the factors that may impact achieving them. You make plans for achieving goals that leverage positive forces and minimise the impact of negative forces. You also track progress towards these goals and revise strategies as required.
Tips for developing business skills and capabilities
Developing business capabilities may prepare you for a management role or help you assume more responsibility in your current job. Here are a few steps that can help you develop your business expertise:
Get a mentor
A businessperson you admire can share their experiences with you and offer tips for improving your business expertise. A mentor who knows you well can offer an honest appraisal of your skills including your strengths and weaknesses. You could also find a mentor through a small business initiative in your community, state or territory. Try to organise regular meetings with your mentor over coffee or online, if your mentor lives far from you. Relaxed sessions let you discuss your job and ask questions about your skills and their application.
Related: How to Find a Mentor: A Step-by-Step Guide With Tips
Read business-related books and resources
Reading about business is another great way to learn. Consider reading biographies of businesspeople you admire and noting the skills and strategies that helped them succeed. You could also start reading business blogs, magazines and newspapers. Reading widely helps you get different perspectives on the business industry and relevant skills.
Enrol in a business course
Business courses focus on teaching participants essential business capabilities. Choose a course that focuses on a skill you lack confidence in, such as financial management. Universities and TAFE institutes both offer formal business qualifications. You may also complete a short business course through an independent training provider, an industry association, a non-profit organisation, your local council or your state or territory's official business department. Many government-run programs are free as they help support local business communities.
Read more: Business Courses: Short Courses to Help You Upskill
Attend business seminars and conferences
Business seminars and conferences are also great learning opportunities. These events also provide opportunities for networking with other businesspeople. As you meet people at these events, you can naturally practise your relationship-building and communication skills. Continuing your relationships with event attendees improves your relationship management skills.
Start your own business
Starting your own business is a great way to apply your business expertise. Start with a small venture such as a market stall or provide a service to your neighbours, such as dog-walking or mowing lawns. Many people operate small businesses in their spare time to increase their incomes. The business can help you develop your skills and make some extra money while you enjoy the security of full-time employment. If the business becomes very successful, you may consider leaving your job and focusing on your own venture full-time. Running your own business full-time requires advanced business capabilities.
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