Hone These Essential Business Skills in 2018

January 3, 2018

According to Pensacola, Fla.–based author and business consultant Quint Studer, there are ten key abilities any entrepreneur or small-business owner must have in order to be successful. But he also notes that no one starts out with all of these skills and emphasizes that smart businesspeople are constantly learning and honing their abilities.

“No one is born a great business owner, knowing all there is to know. Great business owners evolve. They fail, they learn, they do better next time. This is how growth happens,” he says. Here are the skills Studer recommends concentrating on; we’ve added ideas for how you can improve your game in each category in the coming year.

  1. Financial management. Studer recommends concentrating on understanding your business’ cash flow and receivables first. The best way for real estate agents to do this is to create a business plan for the next 12 months. 
  2. Marketing expertise. Don’t confuse this with advertising, Studer cautions. Marketing includes all the decisions that take place in the process of getting your product to the consumer. One way to update your game in 2018 is to shift your messaging toward “pull marketing” (where you motivate customers to seek out your brand and work to create a loyal following) and away from “push marketing” (where your main message is to convince clients to hire you).
  3. The ability to sell. This skill is often misunderstood as a need to be pushy, but Studer says the real key here is passion and the ability “to articulate the benefits of your product.” Understand the many reasons why property ownership is valuable to a wide spectrum of people, and your enthusiasm will catch on with clients.
  4. A bias toward execution. It’s a new year. How many great ideas for your business went by the wayside so you could concentrate on a transaction or putting out a fire somewhere? Identify your best initiative from 2017 and come up with some concrete steps to put it into motion in 2018.
  5. Superior customer experience. The explosion of online real estate sites has changed the game forever, and indications are the situation will accelerate in 2018 But as Studer says, “if you take care of customers, and they’ll take care of you.” Think of a new way to recognize past clients this year, even if it’s just a quick note to thank them for their business.
  6. Leadership. This item is especially important for agents and brokers who want to take their businesses to the next level and hire support staff. Do you project an engaging culture that will draw hard-working people to your side? Try writing a one-sentence motto that describes the culture of your real estate business.
  7. Smart time management. Does this sound familiar? “You want to be involved in everything,” Studer says. “However, you need to learn to work on your business, not in your business.” Come up with one task that you can outsource or stop doing entirely in 2018 so you’ll have more time for what really matters.
  8. Problem-solving savvy. Studer says it’s vital that small-business owners learn how to catch problems early and whom to turn to for help finding a solution. Consider a mentorship relationship, or look to other industries to learn how to apply their problem-solving skills to real estate. 
  9. The difference between “network” and “hard work.” Studer cautions small-business owners against focusing too much on meeting people and brainstorming and not enough on the deep thinking and elbow grease part of the equation. Next time you attend a networking event, go with a problem in mind that you’d like to solve. The answer may just come up in your conversations.
  10. Civic-mindedness. “The most successful entrepreneurs are those who don’t focus on winning,” Studer says. “They’re the ones who want to help and share and mentor other small-business owners and in general make the world a better place.” Find a new charity that needs your help this year and commit to helping in any way you can. If you need inspiration, check out our 2017 Good Neighbor Award winners

Source: "10 Skills Every Entrepreneur and Small Business Owner Must Have," ExecuNet (Nov. 13, 2017)