What’s the most important entrepreneurship skill?

small-business-planning

Our small business training was created after surveying 200 uber-successful Canadian entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs were asked what business skills they believed made the difference between success and failure for them.

Today, we’re sharing some of the most vital skills entrepreneurs need to know, and which ones GoForth entrepreneurs were surprised they didn’t know.

Branding

This is the importance of developing a small business brand, including brand experience, identity, image, pillars, equity and delivery. Brand pillars are the most important values and characteristics of your small business that you want to communicate in your branding. The brand experience is strategically developed to provoke thoughts, interact with, and persuade people to take action. Make sure your client’s brand experience is consistently positive!

Read more about brand experience.

How to build a financial plan

Most entrepreneurs don’t spend enough time understanding the numbers in their business — but the lead entrepreneur really should know the numbers inside and out. If you’re easily stumped by simple questions about profit, costs, or break-even, then others will lose confidence in your ability as an entrepreneur. Investigating financial feasibility before you start your business and while your business is running will help you tweak your business model canvas, which will raise your confidence that you’ll run a profitable company.

Customer experience

Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a client has with your business, either during one transaction or over the lifetime of your relationship. Research shows that customers do business with companies they like, so the more positive experiences a customer has with your business, the more they’ll continue to do business with you. To define your customer experience, it’s important that you know what your customers want and need.

Read more about CX.

How to manage a small business

Successful leaders are teachers, learners and visionaries. Your employees will look up to you for motivation, guidance and also as a model for their own performance. In order to lead effectively, you should consider your business and its staff to be like a team. Everything that’s done should focus on strengthening and improving your team. According to Bond Street Newsletter, these five skills are the essential toolkit for effective leadership in a small business: 1) Empathy; 2) Decisiveness; 3) Collaboration; 4) Planning; and 5) Support.

Government compliance

Staying on top of government compliance can greatly improve a business’ odds of success. There are income tax requirements, GST/HST requirements, rules for working with self-employed contractors, and documents and policies required if you become an employer. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Government compliance can lead to benefits for you as an entrepreneur. For example, there are many tax deductions that self-employed entrepreneurs can make, as well as employees and commissioned sales employees.

The importance of creativity in business

Creativity is the ability to view the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated things and to find solutions. This conceptual combination is seen often in the history of some of today’s most unique product innovations. For example, in 1941 George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, returned home from a trip with his dog, and noticed burrs sticking to the dog’s fur. Like a good engineer, Mestral examined the burrs under a microscope. There, he noted their hundreds of “hooks” that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing, animal fur, or hair. And with that, the idea for Velcro was created!

What about you? Are there small business skills you wished you knew before starting your entrepreneurship journey? To learn these, plus dozens of other vital small business skills, check out our online small business training!

 

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Running a successful family business with non-family employees

family-business

Approximately 80% of all businesses in Canada are family-owned and operated. It’s a popular form of small business, but of course, not all of those businesses are solely staffed by family. In fact, family businesses often experience a high turnover rate of employees outside of the family.

How can your family business maintain its welcoming and inclusive dynamic and extend it to non-family employees as well? How can you avoid an “us vs them” environment? Here are some tips:

  • Make every employee – family or not – feel welcomed, appreciated, and part of the team. Happy employees who love what they do are more likely to band together.
  • All employees should pull their weight, but family employees might be watched a little more closely than others. Make sure that everyone is responsible, respectful, and does good work.
  • Avoid hiring family members who are unsuited to their role. This prevent you wasting time and money, and it’ll demonstrate that you don’t play favourites.
  • Don’t have different rules or expectations for family and non-family employees. Showing favouritism to family members or keeping them more in the loop than non-family employees will only breed resentment and damage morale.
  • Squash tensions before they arise. Make sure all employees know they can come to you with any issues, even if it’s a question about your cousin’s use of the best parking spots. Treat all issues with respect and sensitivity.

Visit GoForth Institute’s Entrepreneur Library for more tips on managing your family business!

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Small business blog posts we liked this week

Here are some of the small business blog posts we found and enjoyed this week. Pour a cup of coffee and enjoy!

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How to make managerial decisions in a small business

Decision-making for a small businessMany entrepreneurs are the sole employee of their small business, or are in charge of a team. That means that the tough decisions may fall on your shoulders. But fret not – decision-making is a management skill that can be honed!

When making decisions, keep these things in mind:

–  Have a clear understanding of the decision
–  Consider the vision and values of your company
–  Evaluate the consequences and outcomes of your decision
–  Brainstorm as many alternatives as you can
–  Evaluate the pros and cons of each of those alternatives
–  Be sure the correct person is making the decision
–  Understand how long you have to make the decision

Once you’ve made your decision, you should re-examine it and the effects that it’s had. Avoid relying solely on outside information, but ask experts for their opinions when it’s necessary. Be realistic when you evaluate alternatives – don’t hear only what you want to hear. Remember the importance of the decision, but don’t focus so much on its significance that you’re too stressed to make an effective assessment.

Practice making managerial decisions with friends, family and other colleagues. No, “My way or the highway” is not effective managerial decision-making for a small business. Learn to evaluate, solicit opinions, contemplate, make decisions and follow up.

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Do you need to know everything about your small business?

Depending on the size of your small business, you might have a few employees you hired to take over certain tasks. Some of your employees may even be specialists in one certain field, like accounting or investor relations – a field you might not know much about. Do you ever feel like you should know more about what they do?

Should you know everything that goes on in your business?

Not necessarily. You hired these employees because you were confident in their knowledge and their ability to think critically and come to educated decisions. You probably saw that your business was growing, and needed help in a specific area. You understood two very important things: 1) You can’t do everything yourself in a growing small business; and 2) Even if you could, certain things are beyond your skill level.

You don’t have to understand every aspect of your business, but the important thing is that you have faith in the skills of your employees and resist the urge to micromanage.

How to manage and oversee employees without being controlling

  • Consult trusted business advisors if you’re in doubt about an employee’s performance or skill set. Ideally, this would be someone whose experience aligns with that of the employee in question.
  • Even if you don’t understand some of the more technical aspects of your employees’ roles, you’re still the one in charge. Have regular one-on-one meetings to make sure you and your employee are on the same page.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask when you need clarification. It won’t make your employees think less of you. It’ll show you care about what they’re doing. It’ll also help you understand the way your business works.
  • Educate yourself about the field your employee specializes in. Talk to people in your network, take a course – even ask your employee what they love about what they do. You don’t have to be an expert, but even a little knowledge will go a long way to understanding a part of your business you may be unfamiliar with.
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