In the next 10 years, you may wish you have these business-related skills
By: Claire, redwigwam
Just starting out at university? Or maybe you’re a recent graduate who is just starting out in your career.
It’s an exciting time. Your future lies on a path, largely unknown, in front of you. There will be twists and turns ahead. And you have a lot to learn – and not just about your job.
Business skills are a set of workplace skills which are essential to business success. Some of these you’ll be familiar with already. Some will come more naturally than others. But all are important for your career development.
Why is it important to have business skills?
You need to develop your business skills if you want to advance your career. The skills we are talking about here are not specifically related to your day job, but about advancement and personal development (which in turn will allow you to do a better job of your day job!)
If you’re eventually looking for:
- More responsibility.
- A promotion or change of title.
- A new job; or
- Working in a new field
Then read on!
12 essential skills you’ll almost certainly need to succeed in business life.
- Negotiation & compromise
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Financial accounting
- Project planning & management
- Data analysis
- Goal setting
Deep diving into the essential business skills you’ll need in your career
Negotiation and compromise
Negotiation and compromise go together – and although you probably don’t realise it – you’ve been practising these your entire life!
Whether it’s negotiating where to go for tea with your mates, or who’s turn it is to do the dishes with your siblings you’ll have learnt valuable skills which you can use and develop in your professional life.
As in life, you won’t always get your own way. But if you don’t compromise, you’ll start to come across as unapproachable. You no doubt believe your way is the right one – but remember your colleague probably feels the same way too! Find some middle ground. Take their ideas on board – and you might just find an even better path to follow.
Everyone comes up against problems all the time in their working life.
From small issues with an obvious solution, to bigger, more complex problems, it may seem like the end of the world when a problematic situation arises.
But don’t panic.
Resilience is key when seemingly impossible situations arise. Take a deep breath. There is always a solution to be found.
If there is a serious problem, don’t keep it to yourself. Speak to a more senior member of the team or escalate appropriately as soon as possible.
For less serious situations, or where time is on your side, try to do something else and take your mind off it. The solution often pops into your mind when you’re not thinking about it!
Developing a good professional network is essential to career growth. While it’s not just about who you know, having a supportive network around you is incredibly helpful – you can turn to them for recommendations and help or advice. Everyone you connect with has their own set of skills to share.
Attend networking events, reach out to your peers on LinkedIn or other social channels, go to conferences when you are able. All of this helps you build your professional image.
If you can, it’s also worthwhile finding someone who can mentor you – there are many schemes you can join, depending on your industry – or you could ask someone more senior in your own company.
While taking on a more senior managerial role may seem years away, developing your leadership skills should begin right now.
Great leaders will have the ability to draw out the best in their teams – and recognise how to do this varies between individuals.
To become an effective leader, you’ll need to learn to lead by example and inspire your team to work together.
Set the groundwork in place now. Avoid office gossip, work hard, and ask to be challenged. Take the lead in team meetings, offer advice and assistance when you can. Remember you are part of a team and share success with each other.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a great leader yourself who you’ll learn these skills from. The best managers should have you snapping at their heels, ready to take over their role as they move on or upwards in their own career.
If this was a list in order of importance, communication would be at the top! Communication and interpersonal skills play an essential role in business life.
Remember, communication isn’t just how you speak. It’s about body language, active listening, writing and being empathetic, as well as being able to adapt all of this to the environment you are in.
Think before you speak. Give others a chance to contribute. Read an email carefully before you press send. Learn to read body language.
You know this one already! If you’ve been to university – or even throughout school – handing work in on deadline was a must. This was preparing your for business life and the deadlines you’ll meet every day.
Time is valuable in business. You’re being paid to be at work so your manager will want to see you using your time productively. Don’t dawdle over simple tasks – and if you are asked to have something by a certain time, make sure you deliver (and if you aren’t going to meet the deadline for any reason, let people know as soon as possible).
One method for time management we love at redwigwam HQ is using egg timers… We have a selection of different timed ones in the office – so if we have a task we think will take an hour, we use the hour-long egg timer and focus only on that task until the sand runs out. Simple, but effective!
We’ve already spoken about solving problems and how you will come across issues and blockers all the time in your career.
So, being able to think critically around issues, analysing the situation and finding a resolution is essential. It’s also important not to panic when things do go wrong, but rather remain calm and figure out how to resolve the situation.
You won’t be expected to do this alone of course, but if you can think outside the box and bring new ideas to the table you’ll soon start to stand out!
Probably not the part of maths anyone gets excited about at school, but an understanding of budgets, forecasting and accounting is essential for business growth.
Perhaps you’ll have responsibility for setting a budget for a specific project. Or will be given a budget to manage. Most businesses will expect you to share the return on investment for any spend
And one lesson to take away at any point in your career. Always know your numbers!
Project planning & management
The best laid plans come to fruition with careful planning and management. And someone needs to set out those objectives and timelines – and ensure the team is sticking to them.
You don’t need to be part of a huge team to start exercising your project management skills though. You can set targets and timelines for everything you work on – and make yourself accountable for meeting them.
If you are working on a specific project as part of a larger team, ensure you hit your deadlines and attend catch up meetings with a quick overview on where you are with all your deliverables. Organisation is key here!
Not saying you need a degree in statistics, but all business decisions should have some element of data at the heart of them.
If you’re asked to pull reports of any kind – maybe its sales figures, bookings made, social media impressions or something else – rather than just presenting the numbers in a table, think about what they mean. Are there changes from last week / month? What could have impacted this. How could you maintain or reverse the trend?
Offering a short analysis shows you are thinking about what you are doing.
Don’t dwell on it too long – and if you are expected to present data on a Monday, make it your first job – this also makes you look organised and show you understand the importance of your numbers.
If you’re new to your role, and the business world, it may be tempting to try and prove your worth by doing it all yourself.
But ask yourself – is this sustainable long term?
The answer is ‘no’.
Remember, you are part of a team. So, use your colleagues. Ask for help rather than burning yourself out.
But remember. Delegation doesn’t mean asking someone more junior to do the stuff you hate. You should be questioning if you’re doing something because you NEED to do it or because you ALWAYS do it.
Part of this is planning and being effective in your day-to-day tasks. What’s important and time critical? What’s not so important – and what is a waste of time. Grade your to-do list thinking about this – with non-urgent and non-time sensitive things right at the bottom.
And remember – we all do tasks we don’t enjoy!
Setting goals is an essential part of business. You’ll probably have team goals – defining what will measure your success as a team, and then individual goals which tie in with these and should also aid your personal growth.
These may be short or long term – usually a combination of both. Ideally you will shape these yourself – where do you want to be in five years’ time? What skills do you need to get there?
Remember your goals need to be SMART – using this technique means your goals will be clearly defined with a vision of what you need to do to achieve them.
As we said earlier, developing business skills is essential for personal growth and career development. You’ll never finish learning these skills though – you’ll hone and develop them all the way along your career path. And you’ll undoubtably use many of them in your life outside business as well.