The skills needed to run a business

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There are many skills needed to run a business, especially when you’re building a startup from scratch.

As a business owner, having a firm understanding of all aspects of your business is essential. As your business grows you can delegate some of the skills needed initially.

Here we examine some of the skills needed to run a business successfully and why they can make a difference.



Running a business takes oodles of organisation –  it’s important to take a positive approach so you don’t become swamped. From managing your diary through to keeping the finances in check there’s much to learn. You’ll find that the organisation skills needed to run a business overarch all other needs.

Your organisation skills need to cover:

  • Finance – managing budgets, making sure the numbers add up and keeping the money coming in and going out, at the right times.
  • Legal and regulatory – keeping an eye on the appropriate business laws, making sure you stay compliant and making sure returns are made at the right times, to the right people.
  • Data protection – managing your databases, from HR through to procurement, and making sure you have a secure and safe storage facility.
  • People management – making sure the right people are in the right places and at the right times to be as productive as possible.



Whether you’re talking with customers, dealing with suppliers or liaising with employees, communication – from the top of your business down – is a key skill. Communicating your own passion for your business can be engaging and compelling for everyone around you, increasing productivity and profitability. Developing your negotiation skills can be vital for sales.

Your communication skills need to be:

  • Composed and controlled.
  • Polite, yet persuasive.
  • Firm, yet respected.
  • Clear and concise.
  • Leadership.

When you have employees you need to have the leadership skills in place to ensure that you’re respected and inspiring. For larger businesses, a HR manager will deal with assessments and development, but as a startup, you’ll need to factor this into your leadership skills too.

Your leadership qualities should include:

  • Recognising talent and the right positions for the right people.
  • Understanding development needs and making sure people have a clear career path.
  • Maintaining the employer/employee relationship.


A head for numbers

Yes, you should appoint an accountant to do the heavy number crunching. However,  as a a business owner, it’s important for to be able to do basic bookkeeping, to understand profit and loss and to be able to read a balance sheet.

Your financial skills need to include:

  • Understanding returns required and what data is needed within them.
  • Getting to grips with business models and pricing.
  • Knowledge of profit and loss figures.
  • Ability to create and read balance sheets.


IT basics

Learning some basic IT skills, as well as having a good grasp of the programmes and software that you need to run your business.

And doing as much of your work as possible and using available information technology can save you time, storage space and money.

IT skills you may need include:

  • Basic knowledge of word processing, presentation and spreadsheet programmes such as Microsoft® Office®.
  • Understanding of website requirements and programming.
  • Knowing the importance of the Internet, including social media.


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