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5 Must-Have Skills for Every Successful Small Business Owner

5 Must-Have Skills for Every Successful Small Business Owner

If you look for successful small business owners on the internet, you’re likely to find a hundred different names and their stories of becoming successful. You’ll find these people and their stories as different as night and day.

Running a small business is associated with huge responsibility–one that is linked with taking care of your investors and employees, serving your clients or customers, and most importantly living up to your own goals and standards. Starting and operating a new business can be hard as roadblocks you never thought to imagine might crop up, including limited time, manpower, and budgets.

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With a solid team and the right tools, however, soon you will be on your way to reaching your business potential. To help find success as a small business owner, I’ve compiled this list of five essential skills that you must keep in mind.

1. Get organized

There is no question that the work you perform in your business are different than other business owners, but there is a strong connection in how you execute them. Think about it like making a grocery list; you get everything you need in one trip. You won’t drive back and forth for each item. Similarly, you should aim to consolidate your errands and the tasks of your business. Group similar tasks and aim to accomplish them on a specific day or at a certain time. For example, instead of checking your emails constantly throughout the day, answer your emails in the morning, and once again in the afternoon. By consolidating your tasks and getting work organized, you will eliminate multi-tasking and can focus on essential tasks to finish a project.

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2. Enable your team with ready information

To make the right business decision your team must have all of the information about your market, your customers, your competitors and your business processes. Putting your team in a situation where they have to hunt for the required information is not productive for any kind of a business. It encourages frustration, and lack of accuracy for your team. In return, they will make a guess rather than hunting down the right information. Effectively using and managing information is critical to driving business and streamlining operations in the Big Data era. Think about the kind of information and the system to provide it to your team on a daily basis for their routine work. Do they have all the required information at their fingertips, or do they need to ask the manager and work up the chain to access it? You might need an online database management system to provide teams with all kinds of information in real time, ensuring instant data management.

3. Get in the cloud

According to a recent story on Forbes, 78% of U.S. small businesses will have fully adopted cloud computing by 2020 ,more than doubling the 37% in 2015, resulting in more databases taking up residence on the Web. The use of cloud-based applications and software can significantly improve business efficiency. Give your team members the possibility to work from anywhere, whether they are at home or are out of the station on a business tour. When you and your team members can work from any location, your productivity will increase. Look for ways to shift your business to a cloud to tap into this always-available work approach. Engage a professional to make cloud-based software for your business databases. Manage your sales and inventory in the cloud or web databases. Make it effortless for your sales team to work on the road, adding live sales figures and updates into your system.

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4. Motivate your team

Being a business owner and an employer, leadership is a crucial key skill for success. In order to get the best from your team members, you must motivate and invigorate them. The success of your business will depend, to a great extent, on the spirit and productivity of your employees, and it is your responsibility to ensure that they are getting what they need (morally or monetarily) to perform exceptionally. You must be prepared and available to know the concerns from your staff.

5. Track performance

It’s essential to set business goals and objectives for your company, and to be able to measure progress. As a business owner, you need to establish specific measurements that show your business performance against the set goal. Measuring and tracking business performance will identify issues and success factors that will advance the overall organizational performance. Consider looking at your weekly sales or database software. Check your performance. Are you retaining customers? Track how your team performs. Are they hitting deadlines?  Find tools that can help you to track performance within your day-to-day business.

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Featured photo credit: Photo Giddy via flickr.com

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Tayyab Babar

Tayyab is a PR/Marketing consultant. He writes about work, productivity and tech tips at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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