Social Skills or Communication Skills

It was always counter-intuitive to me that goofing off with friends could build a valuable career skill, but it’s absolutely true. The ability to connect and build rapport with other human beings is the single most important skill on this list and applies to several of the others.

Whether you’re networking, schmoozing investors, wooing clients, or interacting with your own team, strong social skills are hands-down the greatest strength a person can have in business.

Diplomacy or Leadership Skills

A large part of successfully interacting with people can depend on a sense of what behavior or response is appropriate in a given situation. Diplomacy is a useful skill or trait in these scenarios because it allows you to avoid conflict by finding solutions that could be amicable to both parties. This stems from a deeper understanding of the opposing point of view. It really boils down to having empathy and applying it with logical reasoning.

Storytelling or Copywriting Skills

Telling a great (true) story can help carry your audience on a journey that ends with action-takers getting stuff done. The ability to communicate through your content can be one of the most valuable skills in your arsenal, and it’s also a huge help with SEO.

Organization or Reporting Skills

Reports may be boring, but knowing how to read and write them can help you communicate a project’s status or results with everyone from clients to third party vendors. Analytical skills are helpful here too, but proper reporting itself can set you apart from the amateurs.

Persuasion or Sales Skills

Persuasion is a valuable skill, but many people are doing it wrong, because contrary to popular belief, sales don’t have to be sleazy.

Sales is an exchange of value, not a zero-sum battle.

If you provide something of value to the client, they will provide value in return. This may mean providing services in exchange for money, or it could mean providing “free” information in exchange for attention and rapport.

If a person values something more than the amount of money it costs them, then they make a purchase.

Financial Skills

You don’t have to be an accountant, but knowing how your money works will help you stay on top of your progress. Understanding your finances lets you make your money work for you, not the other way around.

It’s also important to know the difference between revenue and profit.

As a quick example, let’s say you sell a $10 product… that $10 is your revenue.

If that product cost you $7 to make and sell, your expenses are $7.

Please forgive me for this, but I’m going to do some math here to help explain the rest.

Now, Revenue ($10) minus Expenses ($7) equals Profit. 10 – 7 = 3, so the $3 left over is your profit.

Profit ($3) divided by Revenue ($10) equals Profit margin. 3 / 10 = 0.3 which is 30%. Since your profit is $3 out of the $10 revenue, your product has a 30% Profit Margin.

Hopefully that helps for those of you who weren’t sure about how profit works.

This is actually one of the reasons that people get confused when setting income goals. Many people just starting out will set income goals and build a plan to make that goal as revenue, but they don’t account for their expenses — including taxes — so they end up falling short of their goal.

Planning or Project Management Skills

Project Management is one of my favorite things. I got a certificate in it from Grad School while I was getting my MBA.

That said, I know that not everyone geeks out over the techie stuff the way I do, but understanding the basics of Project Management (PM) is super helpful for your business.

Specific tips for this skill would vary based on exactly what you do, so I’m going to keep it a little vague.

Divide the project into milestones to make it easier to manage. Each milestone should have a deliverable or mark the completion of one or more aspects of the project.

Many people forget to account for project management time when they estimate how long a project might take to complete.

Not all projects will be billed hourly, because value-based is better for most service-based projects, but project length is often used to help calculate the project requirements to establish pricing and deadlines.

I’m not talking about charging a client for every second they spend in a conversation with you, or punishing them for asking questions or seeking further clarification. I’m talking about including a buffer in your estimate to encompass the time you expect to be doing those things. A rule of thumb I’ve heard is to add a solid 20% of the project’s task budget onto the top of the project.

Tools or Technical Skills

This one may make a lot of people groan, but it’s okay if you’re not a tech wiz! All you need is a baseline level of tech skills.

This one may make a lot of people groan, but it’s okay if you’re not a tech wiz! All you need is a baseline level of tech skills.

Try to specialize in skills that can help you run your business better, and forget about the rest. So, odds are–if your business model isn’t based on it–you probably won’t need to learn coding, or anything complicated like that. (This is my jam, but I know it may not be yours.)

The key is finding systems that will benefit your business and either learning to use them well, or hiring someone who can do it for you.

The tools you choose don’t have to be crazy complicated. Take advantage of the best tools you have available so you can work smarter, not harder.

Outsourcing or Delegation Skills

Despite the average entrepreneur’s proclivity toward control over all aspects of their business, you really don’t have to do everything on your own. Outsourcing is about letting others do the tasks you shouldn’t have to handle. Focus on your Zone of Genius to make the most out of your time.

Track the tasks where you spend your time and note which tasks are actually producing revenue for your business. Outsource everything else that you possibly can (or delegate it to someone on your team) so that you’re free to focus on the things that produce the most results.

Integrity

Okay, so Integrity isn’t really a “skill” but it’s still something that should be practiced daily. According to the dictionary, integrity is about being honest and having strong moral principles. A strong leader should always lead with integrity and build a strong foundation of trust.

Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”