Starting out

7 transferable business skills that can help you succeed

Starting and running your own business is a big undertaking – so which skills do you need to do so successfully?

From employee management to overseeing operational IT systems to managing your time and keeping customers happy, there’s a lot to consider. The good news is many of these are transferable skills you’ve probably already acquired in previous roles. Here’s what they are.

A requirement for strong written and verbal communication skills is featured in most job ads these days. It’s not hard to see why, as being able to communicate with other people with ease opens doors in life and in business.

Think back to your previous salaried positions – did you spend a lot of time engaging people, e.g. in meetings, sending emails, on the phone or through writing documentation?

Then you can tick this skills box on your list.

Customers are the backbone of every business, so if you’ve worked for a customer-facing business before starting your own, you probably have a lot of experience keeping this very important stakeholder happy.

You know the key to good customer service is building meaningful relationships with the people who purchase your goods or services. A happy customer is more likely to buy often – and spend more.

When you’re an employee, teamwork is a big deal. It can be immensely empowering to work together as a group to achieve a common goal. And it can make your operations more efficient and contribute positively to the business’s culture.

So whether you’re a sole trader working in a team with suppliers and contractors, or running a larger operation that employs staff, playing it nice with people tends to be good for business.

As the face of your business, you’re essentially promoting it all the time – even if you’re not. But for some, public speaking and delivering elevator pitches can be terrifying – whether you’re presenting to an audience of two or 200.

Thankfully, this is an easily transferable business skill you’ve probably picked up in the past. Have you ever contributed to a staff meeting? Pitched for work? Mentored younger staff? Spoken at a conference?

Then you’re all set – but remember, practice makes perfect.

Starting your own business often means you’re in charge of tech tasks that in your previous roles would’ve been farmed out to the IT department. If IT isn’t your forte, it can be a scary responsibility. But here’s the thing: you probably know a lot more than you think about computers thanks to past on-the-job experiences.

Think about the different software and apps you’ve used, the times you worked through problems and the confidence you gained over time.

Taking charge and motivating employees doesn’t always come easy, but chances are you’ve polished this skill in previous jobs – even if you didn’t hold a management position. Perhaps you led a team project, coordinated a review of end-of-day procedures or organised social activities for your department.

Look a little deeper and chances are you’ll see the activities that have helped develop your natural leadership skills for running your own business.

Planning is essential when starting your own business, and as a result, so are time-management skills. Without them, you can’t organise or plan your time effectively throughout the day – let alone increase your productivity. If you don’t think time management is your strong suit, don’t fret.

Whatever your professional background, you’ve likely honed your time-management skills over many years, for example at school or uni, or even just when planning your day-to-day activities – be it at home or while on holiday.

Starting a business is just the first step, building it up takes time and skill. Even if you’re a first-time entrepreneur, these transferable skills prove you may already have what it takes to make your business dream a roaring success.

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