Setting the context

Most micro and small business owners start a business, out of interest and passion, to solve a problem or to seize an opportunity that will help them achieve their goals.

However, very few put in the effort to equip themselves with all the relevant skills that are essential to helping them succeed in their ventures and thrive.

In today’s competitive marketplace, the need for solopreneurs and small business owners to be skilled and relevant, is far more critical than ever, for their businesses to survive, grow, and thrive. 

The good news is that most aspects of the business can be outsourced, thanks to the gig economy. However, it is important for micro and small business owners to know each of these skills well enough for business optimization.

Also, there are certain core skills that are critical to the success of the business, such as marketing and sales. These are skills that every micro and small business owner should be an expert in, especially in their domain. So merely generic knowledge will not help.

Following are the core skills every micro and small business owner could focus on learning and training and have an excellent working knowledge of those skills, even if they were to outsource.

9 Business Skills that are critical for the Small Business Owner to Focus on :

Some of the key essential skills that micro and small business owners need to learn and practice themselves include:

1) Smarketing mindset
2) Marketing Skills
3) Copywriting and Content Creation Skills
4) Selling Skills
5) Community Building Skills
6) Digital Marketing and Technology Tools
7) Networking Skills
8) Agility and Speed
9) Communication Skills

These essential skills would help them manage their businesses smoothly, navigate the challenges in their businesses, and at the same time, seize the opportunities as they show up and drive their business success.

There could be tasks that can be outsourced or delegated, but it is recommended that micro and small business owners make the effort to learn and practice them at the very least for a basic understanding.

A proper understanding of all aspects of the smarketing practice is critical for small business owners.

Their knowledge and hands-on experience in these skills can help them review, and analyze the relevant metrics and measurements, data interpretation, and critical decision-making based on data insights and reports.

Following is a breakdown of skills that business owners typically need to learn and practice themselves to avoid paying the price of neglect.

1) Developing a Smarketing Mindset:

Developing a smarketing mindset is a learnable skill that requires unlearning the conventional means and methods that are ineffective today and re-learning the best practices that work in today’s marketplace.

Developing a smarketing mindset requires deliberate practice and discipline, which, if done with the guidance of a business coach, or a mentor familiar with the subject, can be far more effective.

Cultivating a smarketing mindset is a personal journey and is crucial for risk-taking, innovation, and smarketing success.

2) Marketing Skills: 

Marketing is the most important skill to master, especially for small business owners. In today’s highly competitive and dynamic marketplace, micro and small businesses need to learn and understand the most effective ways to market their brand(s) to become visible to their target segments and gain their mind share.

Micro and small business owners must learn and practice the following areas of marketing activities for better understanding and decision-making.

With the myriad of options available, they must understand the various aspects of media, platforms, and options better.

Some of these critical elements are as follows:

  • Traffic Generation
  • Lead Generation
  • Lead Magnets
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Lead Conversions

As part of the smarketing practice, it is ideal to skill up the entire staff in marketing and selling skills, so that the alignment of marketing and sales efforts can be more effective.

3) Copywriting and Content Creation Skills: 

All marketing and selling have to do with the use of words. It is not only about what you say but also about how you say that matters.

Copywriting is about the effective use of words in conveying your marketing message in such a manner that it triggers an emotion in the target audience.

Content creation is about choosing the right platform media,  and options (like short videos, reels, threads, audio, and static posts) that could be relevant to the target segments and audiences.

Micro and small business owners who have an in-depth understanding of the power of copywriting and content creation will be able to better connect with their target audience.

4) Selling Skills: 

Selling skill is the No. 1 skill that every micro and small business owner must learn, train, and practice consistently to master.

Sales is the process through which businesses get potential customers to purchase their wares, products, or services by paying money in return.

This is a learnable skill and a critical skill for every business owner to master. 

There is no substitute for learning, practicing, and honing selling skills regularly and periodically.

5) Community Building Skills: 

The importance of building communities as the way forward for every business cannot be overemphasized.

Consumers today need more than a customer care number. Consumers need communities to be a part of, and brands need communities to lead their potential customers through their purchase journey.

As small business owners, learning the skills of community building, nurturing and engaging, and evolving as a community is the key to increasing customer retention and loyalty and generating referral business, which in turn, can actually boost overall profitability.

6) Digital Marketing and Technology Tools:

The pace with which technology, tools, and digital marketing have evolved over the years is unparalleled.

Most technology tools are built with ease of use in mind for micro and small businesses and with the goal of saving time, money, or labour. Most technology tools have also made it easy to measure, monitor, and review real data, which has hugely impacted decision-making.

Therefore, it makes more sense for micro- and small business owners to learn, understand, and adopt these technology tools and adapt to the changed marketplace in the shortest possible time, if not in real-time.

One of the best ways to beat technology overwhelm is to use the technology and adapt to it.

Once the small business owners have a hands-on, working knowledge of the various technology solutions, they could choose to outsource or delegate.

Such an approach could help small business owners make data-based decisions and engage in critical and strategic thinking.

7) Business Networking Skills: 

Business networking and connections at various relevant business forums are learnable skills that are essential for every micro and small business owner.

Micro and small business owners could participate in industry and business events, conferences, trade shows, or local business networking groups to connect with potential customers, interact, build relations, and explore synergies for business.

Business Networking opens multiple windows of opportunity for collaboration, cross-promotion, referral business, strategic partnerships and alliances, and immense learning.

8) Agility and Speed :

Skills around serving your customers with speed and creating great experiences for customers need to be learned, practiced and adapted to each person’s situation and context.

Customers today are usually in a tremendous hurry with very little to no patience. Customers who weren’t even aware of their requirements until yesterday want the products or services yesterday. And therefore, one who moves with speed and agility is going to be the winner in the marketplace.

When you move fast on opportunities and deliver good quality with great speed, you develop a reputation for dependability and great customer satisfaction.

Customers will be appreciative of your commitment to getting it done quickly and will speak highly of your brand, which will open more doors and opportunities.

More doors and opportunities will open for you than you can even imagine today.

9) Communication Skills: 

Effective communication is key to building relationships with the teams in the organization, with customers, vendors, business associates, various stakeholders, etc.

Communication skills are an essential survival skill that must be learned, understood, practiced, improved, and honed continuously, to become a smarketing success.

The above 9 skills are essential for every small business owner aspiring to become smarketing leaders in their industry or craft and to thrive in today’s marketplace.

In addition to all of the above, the following list of complementary skills is great to acquire or master to build a stable and thriving business:

a) Financial and Money Management Skills:

Small business owners should have a foundational understanding of financial management and a money management system to manage cash flows as well as make informed decisions. This will greatly help in the effective management of funds

b) Negotiation Skills:

Effective negotiation is a skill that business owners often need, especially in critical situations. This is a learnable skill that requires understanding and deliberate practice.

An important point to remember:

Many a time, micro and small business owners find it difficult to get out of their comfort zone and take action to learn, train, practice, and seek the help of a mentor or coach to master this subject of marketing and sales.

Hiring the services of a smarketing consultant, mentor, or coach, who can double up as an accountability partner could accelerate the learning process with timely feedback to take the business to a whole new level.

Hope that helps. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions below. Should you have any queries, please write to me at: