6 Business Skills You Need (And How to Improve Them)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 22, 2022 | Published January 3, 2020

Updated June 22, 2022

Published January 3, 2020

This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach

Business skills are an important component of workplace success. Whether you’re a business owner or an employee, possessing certain competencies can help you positively impact the efficiency, performance and productivity of an organization. Understanding these capabilities and how to hone your expertise can help you qualify for a variety of corporate roles. 

In this article, we discuss what business skills are, provide a list of examples, describe how you can improve them and review how to highlight them throughout the application process.

What are business skills?

Business skills are competencies that help people understand consumer habits and organizational behavior so they can use this information to promote the success of the company. Business skills typically qualify as soft skills, and may include team management, leadership and communication skills. These skills are particularly important for entrepreneurs, company owners and managers. However, employers in a variety of fields may look for candidates who possess a combination of both business and technical skills.

There are several categories of business skills, including: 

  • Time management skills

  • Team-building skills

  • Analytical skills

  • Negotiation skills

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Sales and marketing skills

  • Financial management skills

Business skills may vary between company type and industry. For example, a person working in the finance industry may be required to have business skills that include being able to produce financial reports and analyze the market. Employers typically expect professionals in management to delegate tasks and communicate with team members confidently. 

Why are business skills important?

Business skills are important because they’re a fundamental component of starting, running and managing a successful business. If you are a business owner, these skills equip you with the ability to meet the needs of both your consumers and employees. As a potential or current employee, business skills can set you apart from other workers and help you advance your career.

These competencies can also allow you to help an organization with the following tasks: 

  • Maintaining high product quality

  • Building excellent customer relations and customer care standards

  • Increasing performance, productivity and profits through efficient planning, management and implementation of business aims and goals

  • Forming a reliable financial base and maintain a prudent financial policy

  • Maintaining a positive and productive company culture

  • Motivating employees improve their performance 

  • Establishing profitable sales and marketing channels

Read more: Guide To Company Culture

Examples of business skills

There are a variety of business skills you can possess to help you succeed in the workplace. While some types of businesses or positions may require specific talents, several skills are common across industries. Here are six business skills you can benefit from mastering, regardless of the industry you work in:

1. Team-building and team management

Achieving a business goal typically begins with the ability to select and manage an efficient team. Knowing how to choose qualified and skilled candidates, assign tasks and motivate your colleagues can help your team members improve their performance . Possessing strong team-building and management skills can help you support others and ensure they work collaboratively towards a shared objective. 

Related: 17 Benefits of Team Building for Your Organization

2. Communication

Both business owners and managers should be able to effectively communicate with employees, other managers, consumers and other individuals involved in day-to-day business operations. Effective communication skills include both verbal and written and should allow you to clearly communicate information in an easily understandable way.Possessing strong communication skills can allow you to::

  • Effectively negotiate to mediate disputes

  • Compose clear and concise emails

  • Confidently speak in both one-on-one settings and large groups

  • Keep communication open between yourself and employees

  • Effectively relay the goals of a project and the steps required to complete it

Read more: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

3. Delegation

As a manager or business owner, you should be able to effectively distribute work to individuals and teams depending on their abilities and proven strengths. Effective delegation means striking a balance between freedom and responsibility. Your employees and teams should be given adequate freedom to accomplish tasks, but also the responsibility and accountability of achieving desired results within deadlines.

Related: Delegation Types and Skills for Delegation Examples

4. Leadership

This is a key skill of any astute business person. As your business grows, you will likely need to hire people and be able to provide them with a vision and mission as well as concrete goals to achieve. Leadership is often strategic in nature and requires you to understand how to offer your employees and teams an actionable plan and the motivation to complete it. In addition to business owners, leadership skills are also helpful for those in management positions to maintain effective day-to-day operations.

Related: Leadership and Management: Understanding the Differences

5. Financial management

Business owners and those in management positions are often required to have financial management skills to effectively understand and manage the company’s financial needs. Financial management skills include the ability to analyze the current market, understand investment benefits and risks, timely and effectively budget and identify anything that is negatively impacting the company’s bottom line. In addition to business owners, positions that may require financial management skills include business analysts, accountants and bank employees.

Related: Financial Management: Purpose, Daily Functions and Examples

6. Project management

Projects in the workplace usually have specific timelines, milestones, budgets and end goals. Project management skills enable you to handle day-to-day tasks effectively and track the overall progress of a project. Cost control and timely completion are two important aspects of project management skills.

Related: 4 Project Management Styles (With Tips for Choosing One)

Tips to improve business skills

With research and practice, you can learn and regularly implement business skills into your day-to-day work life. The following are tips on how you can start improving your business skills today:

Research

Consider researching the business skills that professionals in your industry possess, and the competencies that employers look for in a candidate. Determine which skills you already have and which skills you can improve. Regularly researching and studying business skills can also help to keep your skills up-to-date and allow you to remain aware of the current and emerging business trends.

Find a mentor

Having a mentor who has extensive business experience can provide you with the guidance needed to develop professionally. Mentors can give you both advice and support and help you determine which business skills will most benefit you in your current or desired career. When deciding on a mentor, first set clear goals of what you wish to gain from the relationship. This allows you to choose the person who has the experience and skills from which you most benefit.

Related: How To Find a Mentor in 5 Steps

Read business books

There are several helpful books on business skills that you can read to broaden your knowledge and understanding of this topic. Consider reviewing the syllabus for a business school course to identify relevant reading materials and stay up-to-date with the latest business trends. You may be able to find these on a university’s website. You can also check lists of best-selling business books to find helpful resources. 

Take a business skills course or class

A great way to improve your business skills to take a course or class. Many courses are available online, and you may be able to enroll in certain classes for free. This can help you familiarize yourself with relevant terminology and concepts, and help you develop your business-related strengths.

How to highlight business skills

When applying for jobs, highlighting your business skills on your cover letter and resume can help set you apart from other candidates. Clearly straightforwardly listing your business skills is key to making a good first impression in a potential employer’s mind. Here are a few ways you can best highlight your business skills:

1. Business skills for resumes

Use your resume to highlight the skills you possess and outline why you’re the right candidate for your prospective role. Include a list of your business-related strengths to make it easy for a hiring manager to identify and review them.

2. Business skills for cover letters

Your cover letter is an effective way to outline your most valuable business skills and make a positive first impression on a hiring manager. Review the job description and identify the most important business skills for the position, and include those in a brief and easy-to-read paragraph. 

This can show your prospective employer that you understand their expectations and possess the competencies they’re looking for in a candidate. You can also use this application document to highlight to include what you know about the company and describe why you’re a good fit for the position.

3. Business skills for interviews

To highlight your business skills or acumen during an interview, arrive prepared to discuss several examples of how you have successfully used or gained these skills in the past. Use the STAR interview response technique to answer your interviewer’s questions in a way that shows the skills you possess, how you used them and the positive contributions you made to previous employers. 


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