Are you starting an online business? If so, you’re probably neck-deep in how-tos, in which case this article will be a welcome relief. A handful of hard skills are essential for successful entrepreneurship. Behaviours can have just as great an impact on the effectiveness of your business, but they’re often overlooked in favour of clear technical skills.
Perhaps you’re already a business owner, and you’re experiencing challenges as a result of COVID-19. Few of us have escaped the economic impact, and many business owners are struggling to recover. As Shopify Partners, we know how hard it can be. Turning your attention to some of the habits and approaches you take in business may be necessary to turn things around. At the very least, they’re an interesting diversion from the usual business development tactics.
In this article, we’ll hit on seven critical skills that can positively impact your business. The first two are somewhat technical. They’re ones that every business owner should have. We’re ecommerce website specialists, and we urge small online businesses to address these critical skills.
The following five concern attitude, adaptability, and approach, which are fundamental “soft” starting points for any business owner, new or experienced.
Marketing is not everyone’s cup of tea. Many entrepreneurs would more readily accept the task of shucking peas than do their own marketing. If you’re a small start-up, you probably don’t have the means to hire a marketing expert yet, and even if you do, a basic understanding of marketing is essential.
You can pick up Marketing 101 tips by the handful with a few online searches. The industry is saturated with experts, guidelines, formulas, and useful tips. The challenge is knowing which advice to take. Experimentation is the word of the day here - research marketing strategies for your industry/niche and highlight the ones that appear consistently. For example, content marketing, i.e., starting and maintaining a blog, is a marketing strategy that every expert recommends. Others, like video marketing, email campaigns, paid ads, and social media advertising will be useful to some degree, but it depends on your business.
Keep reading and check our resources section below for some excellent starting points. If you need some help, we’re a Shopify marketing agency for ecommerce in Dublin, and we offer a free strategy call.
Writing is another love-it-or-hate-it task. Even if you love it, you may not be good at it. When it comes to marketing your brand, the right words are critical. Every entrepreneur should know how to write because it’s the primary form of communication. If you can’t reach your customers, then you don’t have a business.
Online business is booming, which means people are continuously inundated with emails, social media ads, memes, articles, blog posts, and every other kind of content under the sun. What is going to make your words stand out? You have to begin a conversation that other people want to join, which has two main elements: it captures attention and focuses on the customer.
There’s a lot less brand loyalty these days. People don’t care who you are, what you do, or even that much about your brand. They want something, and they’ll go anywhere to get it.
To be interesting to your potential customers, you must first be interested in them. That means finding out who they are, what they dream about, struggle with, and fear. Then you can establish a more relevant and meaningful conversation to find out how your business can make their lives better.
Attention is the new Time. We have far more control over our attention than we do the time we have. The ability to flexibly structure your day to optimise your attention to necessary tasks might be the greatest indicator of success. That’s because managing your attention demands that you adapt to changes that confront you every day. A rigid time-based schedule may seem like the best way to get things done, but as we all know, it’s possible to spend hours on one task at half capacity, particularly if you’re dividing your attention between multiple demands. It’s the difference between quantity and quality. Managing your attention helps develop greater flexibility so you can respond to change as it’s happening––a fundamental approach to business management that results in more sustainable outcomes. Eradicating, or at least, minimising your distractions means you can zero-in on one task, and this is especially true of creative work.
Perseverance is about practising persistence in the face of challenges, otherwise known as your staying power. Out of all the entrepreneurial skills, perseverance is probably the most critical. As a business owner, problems arise all the time, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by stress and feel like giving up. And this doesn’t just apply to business!
Perseverance means you recognise your purpose and recommit to it firmly every day so you can endure challenges. Some entrepreneurs find it helpful to keep a list of reasons that remind them of their purpose and pointed strategies for managing tough times. A tactical list acts as a checkpoint to keep you aligned with your overall purpose, whether that be a business goal or a personal goal that a successful business is going to help you achieve.
During difficult times, such as a pandemic, our resourcefulness is our greatest asset. Being resourceful means you know how and where to get what you need. We could consider all the skills in this list as a set of resources for confronting challenges. But there’s more to it than that.
Resourceful business owners are confident about accessing information independently, without having to rely on other people. That said, they’re confident in the limitations of their own knowledge and expertise and know when it’s appropriate to turn to other people as a resource.
We could say “interpersonal skills,” but that’s a bit general. To maintain effective relationships with staff, customers, and other stakeholders, we need to know how to deal with people in stressful situations. This includes a set of skills for conflict resolution: maintaining calm, taking others’ perspectives, holding generous assumptions about others’ intentions, and focusing on verifiable information to avoid miscommunication. It’s similar to the “customer-is-always-right” attitude with the understanding that human interaction is far more dynamic than that approach allows. There are several sides to the same conversation. You don’t need to hand yourself over to save face or to save business. Soft tissue cushions hard bones, but the bones are the basis of the structure.
Humility is the foundation of all the other skills discussed here because it means recognising that there are always areas for improvement and you need to know what they are.
A few years back, a North American study examined teachers’ degree of self-efficacy and compared it with their teaching skills, which researchers measured using a standardised scale. Their results were thought-provoking and not what you’d expect. Teachers with lower self-efficacy were more effective educators than teachers with higher self-efficacy. That is, the ones that didn’t view themselves as outstanding teachers were better in practice than those with boatloads of confidence.
Why? They believed there was always room for improvement, so they kept striving to meet a higher standard of performance. The teachers who viewed themselves as excellent educators put forth less effort because they believed they’d already achieved an ideal standard.
We can overlay this finding on any profession in any industry, and it’s a key insight for entrepreneurs who not only have to meet their own standards of performance, they have to create them. That requires acknowledging that you’re not the best at what you do (even if you are) so that you continue to do the work necessary to continue growing.
Check out the resources below and give us a call today to get your Shopify ecommerce business up and running or back on track.