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Do I Have The Right Skills To Succeed?

Nov 5, 2007
Making a success of your own business doesn't just require you to have the right personality, attitude and business idea you also need the skills or the ability to pick new ones up quickly. You also need to be able to distinguish what you can do for yourself and what you are better leaving to the professionals.

Assuming you don't have an endless supply of money, when you start your own business you are suddenly responsible for a lot more than just doing your job. If you've always relied on other departments or people to take care of your marketing, IT, legal, finance or admin needs, it can come as quite a shock to realise it's now all down to you. You don't even have a post room to sort out your post.

So carrying out a skills audit is a key part of planning the launch of your own business. There are several important questions that you should be asking yourself:

* Which essential tasks do I feel able to fulfil now?
* Which tasks will I be able to learn how to do through online learning, by talking to friends, colleagues and business support organisations or by going on a course? and
* Which tasks will you always need paid professionals to help with?

Once you have established the above it's a simple question of allocating the appropriate resources and money for the professionals and the time you will need for the task you are confident you can do.

SALES AND MARKETING.

Companies who do not fully understand the importance of Marketing will never be fully successful as the success of your enterprise hinges on whether your customers actually buy into your product, service or brand.

Marketers and sales people have a variety of tools and techniques at their disposal and are constantly seeking new and inventive ways of selling.

You should satisfy yourself that you have the skills and experience to:

* Identify your target market and judge how receptive your customers will be to your offering
* Listen to and understand your customers and be aware of what makes them tick and, in particular, what factors influence their purchasing decisions
* Acquire, handle the relationship with customers and engender and build loyalty
* Be an effective and persuasive salesperson
* Keep the exposure and recognition of your brand high
* Be able to negotiate and know how to close a deal

FINANCE.

Managing the financial side of your business can often prove to be a real challenge. There is little doubt that at some point you will need to use the services of a professional although doing some of the ground work yourself can greatly reduce your accountancy bills. Below are some of the tasks you may be able to carry out yourself.

* Secure start-up capital. You may have to put together a complex business plan and then negotiate with finance houses or venture capitalists to get a loan or an investment. To do this effectively and convincingly, you will need to have a proper grasp of finance issues.

* Budget and forecast. Planning ahead is a vital element in finance management and you must have the discipline to operate within a fixed and often limited budget and the sound judgement to correctly assess how the business and the market as a whole is moving.

* Maintain accounts, petty cash records, profit and loss figures, wages, VAT payments and receipts, tax returns and so on. Many firms do this themselves with easy to use computer-based bookkeeping packages such as clearlybookkeeping and Sage.

* Control credit and manage debt. You must consider how to control which customers you're prepared to offer credit to and your credit terms to ensure that you don't end up facing insurmountable cash flow problems. You also need to put in place and enforce a process for dealing with bad debtors and establish whether contracting out debt collection might be the best way forward.

* Control stock. You must be aware of fluctuations in the value of your stock, especially where depreciation/appreciation of value is likely over a period of time. This movement will impact on your annual profit and loss figures.

* Recruit and manage staff. The dedication and dynamism of your workforce will be important to the ultimate success of your enterprise and you will need to ask yourself whether you have the necessary skills at your disposal to:

* Recruit, retain and motivate staff. Do you know how to recruit the best staff and from where? Are you confident that you are aware of current market salaries and conditions of employment? Are you going to offer bonuses or other benefits?

* Oversee payroll
Will you be managing this in-house or do you plan to contract this out to a third party?

LEGAL.

Like finance, legal is an area that is likely to require professional advice at some point. Again, however, the more you can do for yourself, the less you'll have to pay in the long run. Below are some of the tasks you may be able to carry out yourself.

* Contracts. When setting up any commercial relationship - whether it's between partners, suppliers or customers - a legally binding and professionally drawn up agreement is advisable.

* Copyrights and patents. You may wish to protect your property, brands or ideas by taking out professional copyright.

* Protection against litigation. No matter what type of business you are in, you will need to protect yourself against the risk of legal action, such as litigation.

MISCELLANEOUS

Specific requirements will vary from business to business, but other areas you may wish to consider brushing up on your skills or contracting out to a third party are:

* IT - computers and accessories. Is your knowledge sufficient enough to know what computer systems to use and what equipment you need to run your business? Do you know which suppliers offer the most suitable deals and do you know what packages you will need in the beginning?

* Ecommerce. Do you intent to have a presence on the internet? Have you got the most suitable access package for your needs? Are you considering setting up a website and what will you offer on it? Who will design and maintain your site and how much will it cost?

* Business development. Have you got a coherent business strategy in place and are you imaginative and versatile enough to shift the focus of your business in line with movements in the market?

* Administration. In many businesses, keeping on top of the paperwork is a task that is overlooked, you must however, bear in mind that it is an essential part of the business and requires patience and tenacity more than anything. Bad housekeeping will hinder the smooth running of your business.

You are likely to have at least some but not all of the skills mentioned above. However, there is one vital skill you possess which will allow you to become proficient in all the necessaries, even if you have no prior knowledge in that area. That one skill is organisation.

Knowledge is the most powerful tool you can ever have. Take time to look into all of the regulations, laws and requirements that may affect your business - the more you know the stronger position you will be in. Make sure you make a note of where you found any useful information so you can easily find it again. It is a good idea to find documents or printouts detailing the relevant information and file it away somewhere you can easily access it again when necessary.

Preparing for the unexpected will minimise the element of panic and having access to at least the basic information will help you to prevent paying too much for equipment or services you don't need.
About the Author
Brainybusiness.com provides business and personal development resources to help small and growing businesses start, manage and expand their business. The site contains books, articles, free ebooks and resources. Visit: http://www.brainybusiness.com
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