Right now is one of the most challenging times that small businesses and startups have had to face in living memory. Although the jury's still out on how long the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis will continue to make waves, it seems clear that the current situation has staying power. Already, it has claimed more than 100,000 small businesses and produced an unemployment rate rivaled only by the depths of the Great Depression.
That said, the entrepreneurs of the world aren't content to sit on their hands and wait for brighter days. Instead, many are forging ahead with plans for new ventures that they aim to launch in the coming months. To succeed, however, they need to sharpen their basic business skills in advance of starting a new business. Here are the five most critical skills they'll need to thrive in the current economic climate.
Anyone attempting to launch a business venture right now is going to face tremendous obstacles in their path. One of the biggest ones is the sheer lack of funding options available to them as they get their business started. The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus has made those options harder to secure, owing to the sudden tremendous financial needs of existing businesses. For investors, sinking money into an already-proven business is a safer option than backing a startup, and that means entrepreneurs need to bring their A-game to persuade them to provide startup capital. Since persuasion is an art form, it's also a skill that entrepreneurs can learn – and they'll need to do so before even thinking of going out into today's economy.
2. Accounting Skills
To survive in the current economic climate, businesses everywhere have had to be diligent in exercising control over their bottom lines. The same will be required of any new business, too. The difference is that a startup generally has less leeway when it comes to money management than an established business does, and with their ability to attract additional funding now curtailed, this is a life-and-death struggle. Of course, if the word 'debt' starts popping up, we advise you to seek help from an insolvency practitioner early on - even if it is just for some minor budgeting issues. So that makes a high level of accounting skills an absolute must for anyone trying to start a business right now. With the right skills, they'll have a much better chance of managing their new company's cash flow and keeping it financially healthy for the duration of the current downturn.
3. Time Management
Even in the best of times, starting a business is a tremendous amount of work. For the average entrepreneur, fitting all of that work into their schedule is difficult, at best. That's part of the reason that so many entrepreneurs suffer burnout at some point in their business journey. With so much more to worry about as they launch a business now, it's more important than ever before for entrepreneurs to develop and apply time management skills at every phase of their new venture. And make no mistake about it. The overarching necessity to run a lean operation to succeed in the present environment means entrepreneurs starting businesses today are going to be overworked for even longer than normal. There won't be reinforcements coming for a while, so they have to be organized and efficient to succeed.
4. Marketing Skills
If you ask any successful entrepreneur what they think is the most important function of a startup, they're likely to tell you that (besides having an amazing product) it all comes down to marketing. After all, you can't get customers to buy what they don't know exists – and you can't assume that developing a superior product will guarantee success. That makes having some serious marketing skills an important part of an entrepreneur's arsenal, especially early in a company's life when it lacks dedicated marketing staff. In fact, there are so many DIY ways for entrepreneurs to execute a startup marketing strategy, it's fair to say that such skills are an essential element of overall business success.
5. Sales Skills
Using marketing skills to introduce products and services to potential customers is one thing. Getting them to make a purchase after they've come through the door is something else. It is at that point when an entrepreneur's ability to close a deal comes into play – and they have to have a rich set of sales skills to do that. Although this should be obvious, a shocking number of young entrepreneurs fail to recognize just how hard selling a new product can be, and it's one of the hardest types of skills to develop without plenty of real-world experience. Still, it is possible to learn how to sell in a classroom or online setting, and it's something every entrepreneur should take time to do before even thinking of launching a business.
The simple reality of starting a business during this unprecedented economic climate means there's plenty of unknowns for entrepreneurs to contend with, and that they'll be running uphill all the way. That doesn't mean, however, that there's no path to success. By making sure to build the skills laid out here in advance of jumping into a new business, the odds of navigating the difficulties and coming out the other side with a thriving business are higher than you might imagine. Plus, there's a good argument that any entrepreneur that can start a business and succeed right now will end up with a business that will stand the test of time – and in the end, that's all that really matters.