Anyone can start a business. However, for a business to be successful, possessing a certain skill set can often be handy. Here are some of the key skills that you may want to develop before pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams.

Problem solving

Running a business is not a smooth ride. Problems will arise along the way – it’s how you deal with these problems that determines whether your business is successful or not. Ignoring problems and hoping that they will work themselves out isn’t the way to run a business. You need to be proactive in coming up with solutions. Such problems could involve anything from an employee suddenly leaving without notice to a competitor outpricing you.  

Problem solving involves using logic and creativity – you need a good understanding of the rules and an ability to think outside the box. There are usually three steps to problem solving: identifying the problem, researching solutions and making a decision. There are guides online as found at sites like Business Insider that can help you to develop your problem-solving skills.


Being a good communicator involves being able to convey your ideas and opinions in a fast and concise manner. Even if you plan to run a one-man-band and never take on employees, communication skills could still be important for conversing with customers and suppliers.

There are two main types of communication: written and verbal. Most businesses require a combination of the two. There are courses that you can take in communication to help you become more articulate. Becoming a good listener is also important.


Leadership skills could be essential if you plan to take on employees. There’s more to leadership than simply giving out orders – a good leader is able to get the best out of their team by understanding each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, while also constantly offering support and motivation.

You can take courses in management as found at colleges such as the University of Alabama Birmingham. Such courses can teach you everything you need to know about managing people. There are also plenty of books worth reading on leadership, as well as online guides. 


Being a good negotiator can also come in handy when running a business. There could be times when it allows you to save money such as buying work equipment. In other cases, negotiating could be essential for defusing conflict such as calming down an angry customer or helping two bickering employees to get along.

Negotiating ties into communication skills but can also involve an ability to weigh up value fast so that you can make quick calculated decisions. There are plenty of guides to negotiating in business online.

Time management

Business owners often have to juggle multiple responsibilities. Being able to dedicate enough time to all of these involves having good time management skills.

You can develop good time management skills by learning to schedule everything and by knowing when to delegate and when to prioritise certain tasks. Calendars and alarms can be useful tools for keeping you on a schedule. There are courses that you can take to develop your time management skills.


Knowing where and when to spend money is also a valuable business skill. By becoming good at budgeting, you can minimise the need for unnecessary debts. As a result, you could save a lot of money in the long run. On top of this, keeping a record of expenses could be essential for filing tax.

Many of us can become good at budgeting simply by keeping track of personal expenses. If you can keep to a tight personal budget, it’s likely that you’ll be able to do the same with a business. Learning to use business accounting software could also be useful. On top of this, there are plenty of courses that you can take to improve your financial management in business. 

Sales and marketing

Attracting new customers and encouraging previous customers to return involves marketing. This could include everything from designing a website to hosting a sales conference.

Sales and marketing is all about the art of persuasion – it involves understanding your customers and appealing to their needs. There are various hard skills that you can learn to become skilled at marketing such as social media marketing and SEO. Being able to build a strong brand identity is also important so that your business stands out.

Do I really need to master all of these skills?

It helps to try and develop all of these skills, but you don’t have to be a master of all of them to succeed in business.

It’s possible to hire and outsource people who are already experts in these skills to help you run your business. For instance, if you’re terrible at managing money, you could always hire an in-house accountant and financial advisor to help you budget. Personal assistants meanwhile could be hired to handle all your time management, while a marketing company could be outsourced to handle your marketing.

You can’t delegate and outsource all skills. Communication for instance is essential – even if you hire someone to handle all phone calls or manage all PR, you still need to be able to communicate clearly with these people who you hire. For this reason, you should try to develop each of the above skills to a point where you feel relatively competent.