Converting your existing skills to business

Establishing a business is one of life’s most satisfying achievements. It takes courage to set up a reliable income that supports your family in a way that makes everyone feel safe and happy. It also takes some basic skills which are already in your possession! If you are considering starting out on your own, boost your confidence by realising the ground work has been done. Never underestimate the value of previous experiences in work and life; they are your foundation for success.

Skill – listening

It never ceases to amaze how often listening is taken for granted by too many people. Listening is the cornerstone of all communication, and using it empowers a business owner to make the best decisions. The only way to understand your clients, employees and distributors is to listen to what they are trying to tell you.

Think back to a time in your employment when really listening to another person made all the difference to an outcome. Perhaps a colleague shared a new idea. By taking the time to listen you were in a position to turn it into reality. Have you ever taken a call from a distressed client? Consider how you impacted the caller (and the account) by truly hearing their concerns and addressing each of them. When the management team set quarterly priorities, did you pay attention and use that information to exceed KPIs? The ability to listen is innate; the trick is to use it to your best advantage. Focus on listening everyday in business and you will never be left wondering if you are on the right course.

Skill – planning

Anyone starting a business knows that the to-do list grows at an exponential rate. Before overwhelm sets in, step back and remember how you managed high workloads in the past. Be assured that if you have ever managed your own workload or the schedule of a busy family, your brain has figured out strategies to tackle priorities.

The simple act of committing plans to a document (whichever format you personally prefer) and ticking items off as you go sets you up for success and that powerful sense of achievement. Managing money is something we do every day as an adult. These skills can also apply to business. No matter what job you came from, the methods that worked for you in the past are relevant to planning out each day, week, month or long-term business goals.

Skill – Research

No one needs a Masters degree in History to be good at research. Good research comes from diligent focus on a task to uncover hidden details or knowledge. Chances are you have already acquired research skills that as a business-owner you will need on a daily basis.

When it comes to making purchases in any business, it pays to do due diligence. Best practice says do research on providers and get about three quotes comparing price and distinctions in service delivery. Sounds easy. You have done this in the past, once, twice or a thousand times. Knowing what questions to ask is a real skill that will save you time and money. When people are rushed they skip the research step and are left with the costly repercussions.

If you want to impress your bank manager, extend the research to flesh out your business plan. With the internet at your fingertips there is no excuse for having gaps in your knowledge about the state of the industry you are entering. With Google it is easy to find industry reports from consulting firms, collect demographic data from local councils or the ABS, and locate essential business advice from the Australian Government. Research pays dividends. It raises your level of expertise and gives you an edge over the competition.

Skill – Networking

The term networking gets a bad rap, so let’s use the positive word “relationships” instead. Relationships are inescapable, even for online businesses. Count up the number of relationships you have in your current industry. You have relationships with people you used to work with, or study with; you have made other important connections through clients or conferences. Just by being in an industry for a number of years you have established a network of people that you can turn to.

When it comes to establishing a start-up, a lot of the time is spent alone in the office. The challenge is to get your face out there and create meaningful connections by being genuinely curious about others and what they do. Attend industry events to build that network up again and discover like-minded people. As a first step, reach out to someone you respect to act as a mentor. In the future you will need these new people in your life to inspire and support you over unforeseen hurdles. Try using social media, like LinkedIn to expand your networks and build business relationships.

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