Business knowledge skills and gaps: How to fill in the blanks

Business knowledge – we all have some. No matter how basic it is and even if we don‘t realise it.

Skills – we all have a collection of those as well. Whether gathered through our formal education or life experience, we are all good at something.

If we dream of starting a business, are there likely to be any gaps in our business knowledge or skillset that could impact on our chances of success?

Absolutely.

Never fear, however. There is good news.

The first piece of good news is you are far from alone.

The second is that there are ways you can overcome those gaps and go on to create a successful business! I told you there was good news!

How do we acquire business knowledge?

Cartoon character to show gaining business knowledge

Business knowledge can be acquired in a lot of different ways.

1. Formal Education

This is an obvious one. Lots of us have undertaken some form of education in a discipline that can be associated with running a business. Whether that be Accountancy, Commerce, Human Resources, Bookkeeping or learning how to create a marketing plan. These days you can even do a course on setting up an online business!

Unfortunately, many if not all of these do a very bad job in preparing students for the reality of running a business.

Thank goodness for us!!

2. People we know

Many of us know, or have known, people whom have run businesses. What you learn, of course, will vary wildly based on the success or otherwise of the business owner and a host of other factors.

Did you watch closely as their business idea came to life? Was the process of setting up the business seemingly smooth or were there a heap of problems?

Once it was up-and-running, did the business appear profitable to you? Was the owner always frantically busy? Did they have little time for their friends? Or, did they seem to enjoy life and seemingly not have a care in the world?

It goes without saying that your observations, looking in from the outside, may have given you the wrong idea. But you’ve still learnt something.

3. Our work

If you’ve worked for a private organisation, especially a smaller one, you will have learnt something about running a business. You may have seen a degree of entrepreneurship up close by watching the small business owner in action.

From an operational perspective at least, this method may be one of the best ways to pick up some business knowledge.

Read this article to learn about The Biggest Mistake that some people make when starting a business.

Do you get to see the full picture? In many cases, probably not. Business owners are typically a bit secretive when it comes to some aspects of their business.

Many owners keep their worries to themselves. They may never discuss the business’ financial position. They may never mention their plans for the future.

4. Interacting with other small businesses

This can be another interesting way to enhance your business knowledge. Often without realizing you are!

Lots of people interact with a variety of small businesses every day. Whether it is the local hairdresser, a tyre shop, a Cafe or your local Doctor.

During those interactions, you will see the customer-facing elements of a business at work.

Were the Staff happy? Was the place busy or quiet? How about the décor? Was the signage professional or did it look like the business owners’ 5-year-old child made it?

All of those observations, obtained over an extended period of time, will contribute to your reservoir of business knowledge.

There will be gaps

I have been running several businesses, both big and small, for 24 years (and counting!).

I also now make my living advising many different types of small to medium sized businesses.

And, there is one thing I know for sure about my own business knowledge.

I don’t know everything about running a business!

No-one is awesome at everything.

So, clearly, when the vast majority of ordinary, everyday folks start a business, there is likely to be a few gaps in their business knowledge.

Unfortunately, a lack of knowledge won’t let you “off the hook” in business. Get important stuff wrong and you will pay the price at some stage…guaranteed.

What about skills?

Yes, running a business successfully takes an extensive array of skills. However, an individual person is unlikely to possess all of the skills required to take a business from zero to hero.

No need to feel bad about that – it’s just the way it is.

Using the skillset you do have, however, will play an important role in developing your business. So, celebrate what you can do well rather than those things in which you struggle.

However, I do have one word of caution for you. Your time, when starting your own business, is very valuable. Just because you know how to set up your books, run the payroll or build your own website doesn’t mean you should do those things. Spend your time where you’ll get the biggest return.   

Filling the Gaps

So, here we are.

We now know that, when starting a business, you will be bringing a host of knowledge and skills to the table. Well done you!

We also know that there are likely to be important things that need to be done, but in which you know precious little. Keeping on top of everything is hard and can feel overwhelming and bring on burnout.

So, what to do?

The first thing is to think deeply about your new business and all of the things that need to be done. Creating a basic Business Plan can be a great place to start. This will ensure you don’t overlook any of the basic tasks like creating a catchy business name, identifying your target market and determining what licenses and permits you might need to operate. Other decisions, such as which business structure will be best for you might require the involvement of an Accountant or Lawyer.

To help you with some of this, listen to episode 6 of the “Should I Own a Business?” Podcast Critical Business Functions. There is also a worksheet on the resources page available for download.

From there, decide who will be doing each task. It may be you. It may be your business partner. And, maybe, you need to put aside some cash to pay an expert to help you. The right business advice can seem costly at first. But, it will pay you back handsomely if you listen carefully and act on it.

If it all seems too much, consider getting yourself a Mentor who has been successful in business. Ask them to help you with the setup of your business.

Because if there is one thing that trumps knowledge and skills, it’s good old fashioned experience!

Try our Entrepreneur Personality Quiz for other suggestions on preparing to be successful.

 

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