By Roger Dutta
Whether you’re starting a business from square one or simply looking to level up in your career, you won’t make it far in your ventures without the right skills.
Don’t confuse skills with talent or aptitude – almost anyone can put in the time and effort to improve in certain areas. Play to your strengths, but don’t neglect weaknesses either! Here are some of the top skills you need to succeed in business today.
No matter where you are in your career, you won’t be able to level up until you have a genuine curiosity in the subject matter in front of you. That goes for marketing, finance, sales, and especially technical skills that demand strict focus and effort.
“I believe that curiosity and the willingness to learn can help propel your business endeavors,” said Abraham Rahmanizadeh COO and Co-Founder of Leafwell Botanicals. “By remaining open-minded to what you don’t know, you’ll continue to acquire valuable information needed to help sustain your business. Through taking the time to truly understand each of the vital steps needed to manufacture our CBD oil products, I’m now able to help represent our company with confidence, expertise, and professionalism.”
There will be times when pure willpower is needed for self-education, but ideally, curiosity should propel you forward most of the time.
The modern entrepreneur has no choice but to be optimistic and action-oriented in the face of the steepest odds and obstacles. Without a positive attitude, quitting is all but guaranteed.
“The top skill that business owners need to succeed is the ability to have a positive mindset no matter what,” said Jeffrey Brown, President of Big Fig Mattress. “Sometimes, things fall through – customers cancel orders or shipments get delayed. If you own a business, you have to power through these hurdles in order to make it to the top.”
Don’t confuse positivity with delusion, of course – stay rooted in reality and make the most of every opportunity with a constructive approach.
Accepting and implementing feedback are skills that don’t get nearly the credit they deserve. Actively seek feedback from every possible source and be ready to apply the lessons you learn.
“A top skill to succeed in business today is the power to listen,” said Randi Shinder, CEO of SBLA. “Leaders who spend more time listening to customers and their employees will create an atmosphere where productivity is enhanced, and employees aren’t afraid to share their ideas. Customers can also provide valuable feedback that can be used to improve products.”
You won’t agree with every bit of feedback you hear, and that’s the point. Brush aside the ego and view things objectively to be maximally effective.
Many have succeeded in making a quick buck in business with dishonest practices, but they don’t last long. It’s far better to practice total honesty and build real trust with clients, employees, and everyone else in your circle.
“A top skill needed to succeed in business today is honesty,” said Chris Gadek, Head of Growth at AdQuick. “People expect honesty out of the people they work with and if you want to succeed you need to be an honest person. Try to build trust in the people around you by being honest and always doing the right thing. This skill will get you very far in business and in life.”
It all starts by looking in the mirror and being honest with yourself – that’s the first step.
Power of Patience
We’ve been conditioned since birth to believe that overnight success is the only possible way to win in the world of business. In truth, it takes years to make a breakthrough, and most of that work takes place behind the scenes.
“The top skill needed in business today is patience,” said Jenn O’Hara, CEO of Soba Recovery. “Sometimes delays happen. Sometimes the atmosphere becomes stressful, but having patience with people goes a long way.”
If you can combine patience with best practices and laser focus, you’ll be unstoppable.
The more you keep hidden from colleagues, clients, and other people in your organization, the more disconnected you become. Be transparent and authentic in everything you do and say to create strong connections and achieve great things.
“The ability to communicate promotes transparency and encourages people to have an open dialogue on important issues,” said Chris Vaughn, CEO of Emjay. “Delegating tasks to others who can effectively execute them allows you to focus on areas that require immediate attention. Of course, time management plays a critical role in having a successful business because it can affect productivity and costs.”
It may not seem like a malleable trait, but transparency is definitely a skill like all the rest! Start working on it ASAP.
Researchers view intelligence as a metric of power for our cognitive abilities. It’s the hardware we need to solve problems and be productive. However, that’s just part of the picture – emotional IQ is vital as well.
“A skill that is often overlooked, but needed to succeed in the business world today is emotional intelligence,” said David DiLorenzo, President of Valentino Beauty Pure. “With our culture promoting the understanding of diversity, mental health, and all aspects of human beings, emotional intelligence is key to being successful in business. This skill will help you to identify with business partners, employees, and customers. It can be a hard skill to master, but it is well worth the time and effort.”
How do you start improving emotional IQ? Start small with daily interactions with others, and master the art of self-talk to restructure your beliefs.
Being a team player is absolutely a skill, and one that deserves more focus from us all. This goes for small teams of 2 or 3, scaling all the way up to the enterprise level with hundreds of people pursuing one mission. Start by mastering delegation and work from there.
“One of the top skills needed in business today is the ability to delegate tasks,” said Dr. Anthony Puopolo, CMO of Rex MD. “With the workplace changing at such a rapid pace, staff can easily find themselves doing the jobs of more than one person. Delegating isn’t just for management. Even associates need to take charge and delegate certain tasks so that staff doesn’t become overwhelmed and frazzled.”
For the first few times, delegation can seem unnatural, but it becomes second-nature in no time.
Core Skill Sets
Who has a better understanding of key business skills than the world’s leading management consultants? They see businesses from every possible angle and run all the numbers so that everyday owners and execs can make the best decisions possible.
“Workers will need different skills to thrive in the workplace of the future,” said James Manyika, Chairman and Director at McKinsey Global Institute. “We’ll see a growing demand for advanced technological skills such as programming. Social, emotional, and higher cognitive skills – such as creativity, critical thinking, and complex information processing – will also be in demand. Growing occupations, meanwhile, will include those with difficult-to-automate activities, such as managers and doctors, as well as care workers and teachers.”
Hiring new people for your business is really a make-or-break process, so pick wisely and consider what skills they bring to the table.
We’ve witnessed some rapid success stories in recent years, but for most businesses, it takes time to gain momentum and rack up those first victories. Approach your venture like a marathon and keep a steady pace.
“The top skill needed in business today is endurance,” said Jordan Smyth, CEO of Gleamin. “Business owners need to endure constantly-changing conditions as well as the growing demands of customers and deliver a product that makes customers happy.”
Burnout is the enemy for today’s entrepreneurs, so avoid it at all costs.
Top performers in the business world know when to put the blinders on, and when to take a more empathetic approach to situations. It’s all about knowing what the situation calls for and having the skills required to step up.
“One of the top skills needed in business today is empathy,” said Tim Mitchum, Founder of Winpro Pet. “Empathy for customers and their unique needs makes a business owner better at what they do. Empathy allows for a better product to be made – one that is in line with customers’ values.”
Being too empathetic can be detrimental too, of course. Balance is key when dealing with others and staying focused on your own goals.
One of the strange truths of modern life is that it’s quite easy to be average and comfortable. That’s why so many entrepreneurs set forth on a project, only to quit months later. Overcome the comfort trap and commit to never quitting.
“A top skill needed to succeed in business today is perseverance,” said Darren Litt, Chairman and Co-Founder of MarketerHire. “Life and especially business can be tough, and you must have the ability to push through the tough times if you want to succeed. A great way to gain more perseverance is to read a book like The Daily Stoic which features inspirational quotes from ancient philosophers to help you persevere through the tough times in business.”
Off-days will happen, and rest is necessary now and then, but quitting is simply not an option.
Many executives claim that we’re on the verge of a talent crisis. Competition is high thanks to remote work capabilities and more job opportunities for professionals. What can your business do to attract and retain talent?
“Beyond doing the right thing for their workers, companies have another reason to lean into workforce development initiatives: their own competitiveness,” said Sarah Franklin, EVP and GM of Trailhead and Developer Relations at Salesforce. “As demand for skills for the intelligent era heats up, so too will a war for talent.”
The balance of power is always in flux between workers and owners –aim for greater cooperation rather than a win/lose dynamic.
Ready for Risk
Everything great in life requires risk, from swimming laps to picking stocks. Business leaders may be naturally inclined to handle more risk than others, but they also treat this as a skill that they can sharpen and improve with experience.
“There is no direct formula for succeeding in business, but I think that the level of risk-taking between myself and our Co-Founder Amy Yuan are what brought us to where we are today in terms of the success of our business,” said Ming Zhao, CEO and Co-Founder of Proven Skincare. “Had we not collaborated on a business venture based upon the idea of customized skincare (which tends to be the less popular option compared to skincare products with a one-size-fits all mentality), and had we not continued to push forward despite others’ doubts or skepticism, we would not have attained the gratifying results of success through combining AI with skincare formula production and helping others with their skin.”
What risks in business and life do you struggle with from day to day? Answering this question is key to progress and personal growth.
Adapt, or Else
While there’s certainly value in steadfastness, a rigid approach to business will not lead to long-term success in a rapidly changing world.
Have confidence in your game plan, but also prepare to pivot and implement new tactics at the drop of a hat. Anything can happen!
“One of the skills needed in business today is adaptability,” said Fred Gerantabee, CEO of Foster Grant. “The world and the business landscape are constantly changing and need great minds to decipher what’s going on and work within the framework of new business models.”
As you embark on your business journey or navigate the next stage of your career, keep in mind the skills that matter most in the modern world. Be ready to take on new challenges, because there are plenty to come.
Do whatever it takes to build and sharpen the skills you need to succeed, and you’ll never be without high-paid work or business opportunities from here on out.