The Many Hats of an Entrepreneur

27/08/15

From book-keeping to marketing, project management to customer service skills – running your own business is a job like no other. There is no specific job description that has a defined capacity. Being your own boss, the edges blur constantly and the need to acquire new skills is never ending.  Yes, this can be scary, but it can be exhilarating too!

Many parents in need of flexible working seize the opportunity of working for themselves, as it provides flexibility of hours and promises a better work life balance -but it’s no easy option. The trick is to direct your efforts. The old adage – Jack of all trades, master of none – could come into play if you’re not careful, but you can avoid this.

If you are going to run your own business first you need a marketable skill – can you take what you did for your employee and create a business from this, or do you have a hobby that you could make pay? Whatever you decide you need passion to help drive you through! We were particularly inspired by this story recently –  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3150745/Mother-makes-millions-selling-second-hand-children-s-clothes-Thingimijigs.html

So, you’ve got a great idea but how do you know what’s really involved?
When starting out in business it’s essential to be aware of the vast range of skills required. As an overview these are some of the core competencies that you’ll need to master:-

1) Project Planning

Having a clear plan will put you in good stead. Project planning is the basic requirement of most business plans – and if you can master this skill you’ll be in control. Mapping out how to reach your end goals really does help you to align your skills with the challenges that lie ahead. Don’t just project plan the business – think about project planning yourself in terms of your development – where do you want to see yourself in the next 5 years? How are you going to develop yourself and your team to reach your goals?

2) Accounting

Keeping your books in order yourself won’t just save you money on accountancy fees whilst you’re setting up your business, it will also put you much closer to your cash flow, making you very aware of how much profit you are making. Don’t worry if maths is not your strong point, building your skills and ability to track your income and expenditure is part of the groundwork, then developing your proficiency in software as simple as Microsoft Excel – which does all the maths for you –  can give you a great head start.

3) Marketing

Marketing is an exciting subject, but one which many people fear, as it can sometimes feel like there is no end in sight! So, where do you start? Where is your audience? How do you get in front of the right people? Start by getting social – whether it is rustling up the courage to attend some networking events, or taking to the computer and connecting to your audience on social media, there are tons of different methods you can use to engage with your customers and potential customers. Do your research, follow your competitors and try to listen to the buying signals of your audience. The beauty of marketing in the social era is that there is so much you can do, pretty quickly, online. If you’re having trouble working out how to be ‘social’ with your audiences, look into social media training courses, which can offer a great range of skills for small businesses.

4) People Management

Managing people is not easy, especially if you have not received training. Personalities can clash, opinions will differ, finding out the best way to deal with different characters in your team can be challenging – but it needn’t put you off. Investing in people is the most crucial element of any business. Building trust within your team and acknowledging people’s strong and weak points will help you balance out the progress of your team’s development. As well as helping your team to build their skills and achieve their targets, it’s key to remember to look after them, offer incentives and partake in teambuilding. The more you invest in them, the more they will invest in you and your dream.

5) Customer Service

Now this is a skill which is crucial to any business. Dealing with customers or clients can sometimes be tricky, and if we’re honest a little trying. However never let it show. Decide who is best to put in front of you customers on a day to day basis, and ensure that their professionalism, calm manner and dedication to assist shines through. It’s crucial to keep up to date with customer service skills, and tie this into your USP as a business. Make sure that all employees address customers in the same professional manner, and your customers will keep coming back.

6) Software Programmes -Word, Excel, Cloud Computing

Efficiency is probably one of the biggest expenses for any business. If you find yourself searching for shortcuts, or even just realise that the formula you are creating shouldn’t be taking you this long, it’s time to refresh, it’s worth the investment to save you time, which is money. This goes for learning new software tools properly – with the creation of cloud computing software and remote clients, customers and teams, make sure you get to know the ropes before you launch into working from that holiday home you’ve always dreamed of – only to find you don’t have a clue how to access your files!
All of the above will stand you in good stead. Then, once you have these skills in your armoury the next task is to decide which hat to wear on which day, or indeed if you’d like the pass the hat on…?

If you are working alone be careful not to put too much pressure on yourself. Just because it’s your business doesn’t mean you have to do everything. Consider where can you delegate tasks – either by hiring help, or outsourcing to experts.

A great way to establish whether you need extra support is to start with a skills assessment. What are your strengths, and weaknesses. For those weaker skills can you update your skill set, or would you be better handing the task over – based on the fact you don’t want to be working every second of the day? For many, this exercise is a refreshing overview of how and where you might be able to save time.

It can be a great option for many, being in charge or your own destiny, but it shouldn’t be approached lightly. With the right support though, running your own business could be your biggest adventure. We’re more than happy to offer guidance to anyone thinking about making the leap. Friendly staff at your local centre can advise on how to build up your skills for your individual circumstances. Don’t let a lack of training stop you – this is a barrier that can most definitely be overcome!

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