Skills You Need to Succeed in Business

Skills You Need to Succeed in Business - Marvin Carolina, Jr.

To succeed in business, you need to ensure your skills are suited for your industry. I have talked to lots of small-business owners across the country, and these are the most-common reasons the owners I talked to opened their businesses.

Some spent years working for someone else, and after learning the industry, they decided they could make more money being their own boss. Some wanted to provide customers a better product or service. A few simply made their hobby their primary source of income.

Whatever your reason, I suggest you begin by conducting an inventory of your skills, so you know what you do well. And what you do not do well. While it’s common to choose an industry based on one of the reasons I’ve mentioned, it’s not wise: To succeed in business, you need to choose an industry you’re ideally suited for.

A skill is simply a task you can perform at a high-level. You perform a task at a high-level if, on a scale of one to ten, your performance rates an eight. In addition, you have to perform that task at a high level consistently, and a third party (e.g., an expert in the field or an aptitude test) must rate your performance as exceptional. If you meet those criteria, you have a skill.

A skill-set is simply a set of skills. Every job (e.g., architect, doctor, lawyer) requires a number of skills: a skill-set. If being an architect requires you have a dozen skills but you only have nine of them, you lack three requisite skills, which means you lack the skill-set to be an architect. Without acquiring those three skills, it’s unlikely you would be successful as an architect.

Few small-business owners have taken time to inventory their skills. If you have not taken inventory of your skills, I urge you to do so. I like the Gallup Strengths Center’s Entrepreneurial Profile 10 because it helps identify your entrepreneurial talents. Whether you take the Gallup assessment or another assessment, make the effort to find out what your skills are.

The most-successful small business owners know their skills, and they enter industries their skills are ideally suited for. Equally important, they also know their areas of weakness, and they hire employees who have skills they (the business owners) lack. The result: a business with few overlapping skills.

As a small-business owner, your workforce should have diverse skill sets. It is obviously not a good idea for your Accountant, Advertising Representative, Human Resources Manager, and Receptionist to have the same skills. A business needs 50 skills to compete in the market. Can you name ten of your skills?

These are a few skill pairs. Which describe you?

  • Generalist: can manage several parts of the business well
  • Specialist: can manage one part of the business well

  • Doer: likes to be hands-on in all areas of the business
  • Manager: likes to know what every area is doing but prefers to delegate work

  • Visionary: sees new ways of doing things
  • Detail-Oriented: does things by the book

  • Handler: enjoys working behind-the-scenes
  • Seller: enjoys communicating and persuading

  • Planner: enjoys building and following plans
  • Spontaneous: enjoys going with the flow

If you are a visionary, which is a skill, you continually have ideas of how to do things differently, but those ideas do not become tangible without a detail-oriented planner. This is an example of why your business needs to have employees with complementary skills. When you know which skills you have, you also discover which skills you lack.

No matter which industry your business is in, it is important you know your skill-set, and you surround yourself with employees who have complementary skill-sets. It is perfectly fine for you to dabble in areas outside your skill-set—on occasion—but if you want your business to be as effective and efficient as possible, you will do what successful businessmen and businesswomen do: Do what you do best and hire someone to do the rest.

Marvin Carolina Jr. is a Vice President for JE Dunn Construction. He can be reached at