Even if business isn’t your major, you can still benefit from learning some business skills. Observing how entrepreneurs make money, manage it, market their companies, and interact with people can teach you a lot about how to succeed in your personal and professional life.
On the other hand, if you’re in college and are founding a startup, these skills will help you run your business smoothly and take it to the next level.
As you focus on building your company from the ground up, you’ll have to learn time management skills. Working while studying at school isn’t easy, and questions like ‘who will write my essay?’ will pop up in your mind. However, time management – just like the four skills listed in this article – is essential and will help you succeed in the long run.
4 Essential Business Skills Every Student Should Have
One of the most important business skills you can gain is financial management. Knowing how to track, save, and invest the money you’ve earned goes a long way in determining whether it will flop or continue growing. This skill is called ‘bookkeeping.’
- managing and tracking cash flow;
- financial planning;
- debt management.
Cash flow is broken down into two types – positive and negative. Positive cash flow is when you earn more than what’s required to run the business. In essence, it’s the profit. Negative cash flow describes the situation when expenditures exceed the income. Every business experiences an ebb and flow of cash. The ones that survive negative cash flows are the ones who’ve learned to save and invest the extra money received during a positive cash flow.
For any small business owner, learning basic accounting is necessary. Learn how to file taxes for the company, plan the financial quarter/year, and track the debts. There are apps that can help you with this. If the business is growing quickly, you can also consider hiring an accountant.
To grow and sustain a business, the owner must know how to attract and retain customers. The first step in marketing is to conduct research that will tell you more about your customers’ demographic, buying patterns, and preferences. From this information, you can create a customer profile.
Market research further means you should identify and analyze local companies in your field. These are your competitors. As you keep an eye on them, also monitor the market trends so you can get ahead.
Another part of marketing is ‘getting the word out.’ If you’re a student working for an essay service, for example, part of your marketing can be done through word of mouth. Start by telling your classmates and friends. If you’re an event promoter, word of mouth isn’t enough marketing. This would require a mix of techniques, from distributing flyers around campus to sharing posters online.
Knowing how to market your product or service goes back to the market research conducted earlier on. You need to know the channels your target market uses the most frequently and which channels make the most sense for your business. A company selling arthritis medication for the elderly wouldn’t reach their audience on a platform like Instagram.
However, these days, most companies need to create websites and have a social media presence. Being online does two things: it exposes your business to a wider group of people, and it makes you more credible. When we can find a company’s website and social media accounts, it helps us trust them more because we can read reviews and contact them easily with our questions.
Many of us have had a bad customer service experience. As a result, we possibly vowed not to return to that establishment ever again or we told our friends about our bad experience. As they say in Hollywood, this is ‘bad press.’ If your customers are not getting their needs met or not enjoying their experience of shopping at your store, they’re likely to hurt your business indirectly.
Good customer service is wrapped up in other essential skills, namely communication and impression management. The way you talk to customers matters a lot. Practice patience and empathy, offer solutions, don’t be afraid to own up to your mistakes, respond to messages in a timely manner, and follow up with them even after a problem has been resolved.
Negotiation is a skill everyone needs to have whether they run a business or not. As a student, you may have had to negotiate a better grade or a later due date. People working for companies often negotiate for higher pay.
From time to time, you’ll run into customers and suppliers you won’t meet personally. What should you do in this situation? Lose your temper and get ‘bad press’? Spend hours or days looking for a new supplier? This is where negotiation comes in.
The goal of negotiation is to reach a happy medium. Each party should benefit somehow, even if it isn’t a 50/50 deal. There’s a number of techniques you can use to get the long end of the stick.
For example, be assertive rather than aggressive or passive-aggressive. Don’t let your emotions run high – it’s not personal. Make your needs clear and clearly state what you’re offering. Lastly, put things in writing. When it comes down to it, having a written contract will avoid a he-said-she-said situation.
Starting a business is easy, but running it is hard. That’s why entrepreneurs would do well to learn the four essential skills mentioned above. However, this is just a start. There’s a lot to learn about business, and some of it can only be gotten through experience.