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Checklist: What skills do I need up front?

By CCIWA Editor 

Starting your own business from scratch can require an incredibly broad range of skills. Some would say the most important is the skill to recognise what you can’t do, and call in expert help – thinking about this now can save you time, money and heartache later.

The mistake many budding entrepreneurs make is to assume an exhaustive product knowledge will compensate for a lack of business skills. 

Generally the skills required to make a business successful aren’t necessarily related to the product that the business produces. 

For example, a passionate boatie may set up a marine business and find most of his time is spent wading through accounts. 

The knowledge of the product has to be sufficient to know where the opportunities might be, but it has to be balanced with a knowledge of the fundamentals of running a business. 

Obviously business owners need to keep learning and growing, but some basic skills you will need to be across to start a business include:  

Financial and business management

You will need to prepare financial forecasts, source finance, keep accurate records and stay on top of government lodgements, all within certain timeframes.  

Customer service

You will often be the public face of the business. How you present can make or break sales. 

Marketing, research and sales

You need to understand the product, your competitors and the market to maximise opportunities and fine-tune your “point of difference”. 

Negotiation skills

Dealing with suppliers and customers to lock in payment terms and credit lines requires skill and finesse.  

Technical knowledge

If you don’t understand it, you can’t sell it!  

Networking and improvement

Linking in to the local business community reaps rewards. Join an industry association and boost your skills by finding a mentor. Stay abreast of business and industry-specific journals.  

Staff management

If you have employees, they should be well trained and supported. You also have a range of legal obligations to your staff.  

Communication

Effective communication (clear and prompt) is the bedrock of relations with staff, suppliers, customers and potential investors. 

The Federal Government’s business events finder tool can help find seminars and grants to improve your business knowledge and skills. 

Starting your own business from scratch can require an incredibly broad range of skills. Some would say the most important is the skill to recognise what you can’t do, and call in expert help – thinking about this now can save you time, money and heartache later.

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