You might be thinking that you already know how to manage your money properly. You never miss a payment and you’ve got a great budget that you stick to religiously. But managing your personal finances is nothing like managing the finances of a business. Some of the skills you’ve already got will come in handy but you’ll end up knowing things you never thought you would. Taxes are often one of the biggest surprises because people think business taxes are going to be fairly similar to handling your own tax returns but they aren’t. You’ll learn all sorts of rules and regulations about business tax that you never even knew existed. Managing cash flow is another big one because, while you might have to deal with the occasional unexpected expense in everyday life, it won’t compare to the curve-balls that the business world throws at you. Being able to think on your feet and deal with those huge financial problems is a great skill to have.
Time management is another skill that is vital for business success. In the early days, you won’t have the cash to hire a load of staff so you’ll be doing a lot of this stuff yourself. You’ll be designing products, marketing them, dealing with finances and trying to motivate a team. That’s a huge amount of work for one person to take on and sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. You’ll find that you pick up an incredible ability to organise your day so you don’t waste a single second. In the future, those organisational skills will carry over into every area of your life and you’ll find that you’re generally way more efficient.
It’s incredibly rare for a new business owner to set up a company and find success without calling in some favours. Help from more experienced business people and expert advice from other people in your industry is invaluable when you’re just starting out and you’re a little out of your depth. You also need to be proactive when it comes to finding customers, staff, and companies to outsource to. The best way to find these contacts that will help you get your company off the ground is networking. One of the biggest mistakes that a new business owner can make is isolating them from the business world around you. If you’re going to be successful, you need to start making those connections from the outset. Networking skills will stand you in good stead in the future if the business doesn’t work out because it will make it so much easier to find work again or even find funding for your next business venture.
Negotiation plays a big part in the business world and if you’re going to run your own company, you need to learn how to do it fast. When you first start manufacturing and shipping products, you’ll need to pay somebody to do it for you. If you don’t have good negotiating skills, you’ll probably end up getting overcharged which is bad news when you’ve only got a limited amount of cash to play with. You’ll have to learn how to negotiate the best prices with suppliers as well as negotiating salaries with staff. Those skills will come in handy if you ever go back to working for somebody else because you’ll be able to negotiate a better salary and benefits package for yourself. They’re also useful if you want to start another business and you’re trying to negotiate funding with investors.
Every good business runs on the strength of its employees but without a good leader to guide and mentor those employees, they won’t work to their full potential. If you’re ever going to be a good boss, you need to learn how to be a good leader. That means being firm but fair and making sure that you motivate your employees in a positive way. A good leader also knows when to take a step back. One thing that employees hate more than anything is micro-management. Bosses that want to involve themselves in everything and give constant advice to their staff always have the best intentions but it doesn’t help with productivity. Employees feel that they aren’t trusted and they’d much rather just be left to their own devices. They know the job better than you because they do it every day so you should trust their judgment. Good leaders also have a strong focus on the personal development of their employees; you need to invest in training and afford them opportunities for promotion and progression if you want them to feel valued and continue to work at the company. Finding this balance is difficult but once you do, it’s an incredible skill to have. If you’re ever applying for management positions in the future, the experience of running your own business will look great on your application, even if it didn’t work out in the end.
A lot of people think that they’ve failed when their business goes under but that isn’t true. There are so many different reasons that a business might not take off; perhaps it was just a difficult time for your industry and everybody was struggling. Or maybe the product just wasn’t quite right and there wasn’t enough demand for it. Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t think of it as a failure or a wasted experience. By starting your own company and running it, you’ve developed as a person and picked up a whole host of new skills.