You’ve decided to start your own business. It’s an exciting time in the life of any young entrepreneur. And yet, you are also nervous. You have a great idea, sure, but there are also so many things you don’t know about running a business.
You’re confident that you will learn some things on the job. But there are some skills you should try to learn as quickly as possible. In this article, we look at why marketing and leadership knowledge is important for new business owners.
It’s All On You
When you are an entrepreneur, you need to wear many hats. One of the most basic and fundamental reasons that you should learn marketing, leadership, and many other business skills is simply that no one else is going to do it for you.
These are assets that your business will need, probably right from the start. If you don’t take the time to brush up, you won’t be well-positioned to compete with more established businesses in your community.
Does that mean you need to have four different business degrees just to open up your own store? No. School is just one of many ways that you can learn more about the marketplace you are entering.
It does mean that you should inventory what your business will need to find success and think long and hard about how you are going to get it. More often than not, if you don’t have a budget for a proper staff, you are going to spend the first couple of years as a small business owner doing the leg work for many different roles.
Marketing Isn’t Just for Big Business
It’s easy to think of marketing as something that only big, well-established businesses do. In fact, it’s just the way that you present yourself to the public. And, in the age of social media, it’s become far more democratic. You don’t need the budget for a newspaper ad or television commercial to make a splash in the public eye anymore.
Now, you can brand and market your product online, for free, to people who actually might be swayed by your messaging.
Here’s the thing: the stakes can get fairly high for marketing. It’s not just a question of if a person will become interested enough in what you are selling to come buy it. Your marketing and branding efforts will often be the most public-facing aspect of your company.
Get it wrong and you could experience long-term ramifications that have a direct and negative impact on your bottom line.
It’s easy to start marketing. All you really need is a few social media accounts, and maybe an hour a day to keep them updated. However, to launch a true and effective marketing campaign you need a strategy. Measurable goals and a plan to meet them.
At an even higher level, good marketing requires an understanding of analytics. All of your messaging efforts will result in numbers. Most social media platforms provide a basic set of free analytic tools that allow you to track engagements and impressions.
Learn to use these tools well, and they will help you figure out not only how well you are doing, but how you can do better. Marketers who are skilled at working with data learn who their key demographic is and how, what, and when to post in order to best reach them.
With a little bit of marketing knowledge, you can also learn how to create contact lists, properly brand yourself, and establish a carefully cultivated community of people who will continuously respond to your product messaging.
Then there are the soft skills of business leadership. It’s your company. That means you’re in charge not just of your own immediate future prospects, but of the people who work for you. Good leadership skills are not just about getting people to do what you want, but about fostering a work environment that feels safe, comfortable, and productive.
It’s a delicate balance, and one that is often much harder to strike than the new business owner first assumed. Push your staff too hard and you’ll wind up with high turnover. Don’t push them hard enough, and the business will suffer. Too much of that, and you won’t be able to afford to staff people in the first place.
Some people are born leaders. Others need to spend a little bit of time learning the ropes.
How to Gain Business Skills
Going to school is one of many ways to improve your understanding of key business skills. You don’t necessarily even need to complete an entire degree program to learn more about marketing and business leadership.
You can take select classes online or in person, or you can consider one of the many “skill boot camps,” opportunities that are available. These programs usually take around one month to complete, and equip the student with a broad, though admittedly surface-level, understanding of various business skills.
As you progress in your life as a business owner, you’re sure to find areas where you are deficient in your understanding. When these situations come up, don’t panic. There are many resources that can help you grow as a professional.