20 Business Skills You Need and How To Improve Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Business skills are abilities that help professionals in the business field succeed in their roles. These skills can be soft skills that help business professionals or the technical knowledge they need to make decisions and manage their daily operations. If you are interested in a career related to the business or finance industry or in starting your own business, it is important that you understand what these skills are and how they might apply to your career path. In this article, we define business skills and share 20 examples of abilities you may need to develop to succeed in a business career.

What are business skills?

Business skills are skills that help professionals understand consumers and organizational behaviour. These skills may include team management, leadership and communication. These skills are primarily important for entrepreneurs, company owners and managers, although many employers look for job candidates who possess a combination of both business and technical skills.

Read more: Importance of Soft Skills in the Workplace

20 skills to learn for business

Business skills can be a mix of technical and soft skills. These proficiencies can help you develop your career and feel successful in your role as a professional. Here are 20 examples of business skills that you might want to consider learning for your career:

1. Customer service

Customer service is a crucial part of businesses. Professionals working in these fields need to have customer service skills in order to complete transactions, relate to consumers and provide a satisfactory customer experience. This can contribute to a business's success, as a customer may be more likely to return to the business if they were happy with how the employees and management professionals treat them.

Related: Customer Satisfaction: How To Measure and Tips for Improvement

2. Financial management

Business owners and those in management positions need financial management skills to effectively understand and manage the company's finances. 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.

3. Time management

Time management skills help business professionals keep regular schedules and accomplish daily tasks. Effective time management skills often help professionals keep productive habits. These skills can also help management professionals develop more efficient business practices for employees to use.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

4. Analytical skills

Analytical skills include a variety of abilities, such as critical thinking, research and creativity. Business professionals need analytical skills to help them make decisions and evaluate data. Having these skills helps business owners and other professionals in the industry, such as finance professionals, consider market data and information from their own financial records to set goals for the company.

5. Negotiation

Negotiation skills involve communicating with other professionals or consumers to reach a mutually beneficial compromise. This is a helpful skill for business professionals to have, especially in situations in which they are discussing funding. For example, a business manager might negotiate a deal with a supplier in order to get a lower price on the items they buy in bulk.

6. Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills allow business professionals to find solutions to issues that arise within their business. This can include communicating with a dissatisfied customer, implementing new business practices and finding ways to maximize profit. Professionals with problem-solving skills can often become more independent at work and can practice their abilities to strengthen their skills.

7. Team management

Achieving a business goal often begins with the ability to select and manage an efficient team. Knowing how to choose the most appropriate team, assign tasks and motivate teams can result in your team performing at peak levels. Business managers who are skilled at team management and team building can help their team perform as an efficient unit and work together toward a common goal.

Related: A Guide on How To Build a Team That is Strong and Successful

8. Marketing

Marketing and sales knowledge can help business owners promote their products and services. These skills can include social media management, advertising abilities and copywriting. Developing strong marketing skills can help business owners reach a wider audience and boost their sales.

9. Communication

It is important for business professionals to be able to effectively communicate with employees, 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.

10. Networking

Networking skills refer to a professional's ability to connect with other people within their industry. This can be a valuable skill for business owners and other business professionals because it allows them to consider collaborations with others and share industry knowledge. Networking is particularly helpful for those seeking new job opportunities or mentorships, both of which can help professionals further develop their skills.

11. Delegation

Being able to distribute tasks as a business manager is a key step in leading a productive and efficient team. Having delegation skills includes the ability to assign tasks to employees who can handle them with little assistance or supervision. This can help each professional within the business apply their skills and work together to reach a common goal.

12. Project management

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

13. Public speaking

As a leader within the workplace, business managers often need public speaking skills. This helps them give directions and perform business presentations. These functions can help business owners achieve goals and receive funding from shareholders.

Read more: Types of Public Speaking Skills and How To Improve Them

14. Organisation

Organisation skills help professionals keep an ordered workspace and remember important business details. Business managers benefit from these skills as they help the professionals organise their business's daily operations. Organised professionals often can perform more efficient work, as they may keep a detailed schedule and ordered work station, which lowers stress and increases productivity.

15. Leadership

Business owners often need to hire people and share a vision and concrete goals to achieve. Leadership is often strategic in nature and requires professionals to understand how to offer their employees and teams an actionable plan and the motivation to complete it. In addition to business owners, those in management positions also need leadership skills to maintain effective day-to-day operations.

16. Decision-making

Decision-making skills refer to the ability to make confident and well-informed decisions. Often, business professionals use a combination of their analytical skills and industry knowledge to make decisions that best allow them to reach their goals. Decision-making skills can also be helpful in problem-solving situations, as it gives professionals the confidence they need to address the issue.

17. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and manage one's own emotions and appropriately react to others' feelings. This skill helps business owners become better leaders and recognise traits of themselves and their employees. Having emotionally intelligent leaders in the workplace can promote a better work culture and increase employee satisfaction.

18. Risk management

Business owners and other business professionals need the ability to properly assess the risk attached to a decision. Having this skill allows professionals to make effective decisions that balance risk and reward. Business managers who master this skill can often lead more successful businesses.

19. Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution helps business managers resolve issues between employees and those involving customers as well. This involves approaching a situation objectively and actively listening to both parties in order to determine a fair decision on how to proceed. Conflict resolution skills help business owners maintain high customer and employee satisfaction levels.

20. Strategic planning

Strategic planning helps business owners and other professionals work toward their career goals. This skill allows professionals to consider which achievements they want their business to reach and then plan how to realise them. Business professionals can improve their strategic planning skills by evaluating their company's current status and applying industry knowledge, analytical and leadership skills to advance their careers.

How to improve business skills

Consider these tips to help you improve your business skills:

1. Research

Take some time to read up on the most valuable business skills needed in your industry. Determine which skills you already have and which skills you could improve. Regularly researching and studying business skills can also help to keep your skills up-to-date and allow you to remain abreast of the current and emerging business trends.

2. Find a mentor

Having a mentor who has extensive business experience can provide you with the guidance you may need to develop professionally. When deciding on a mentor, first set clear goals of what you wish to gain from the relationship. This allows you to choose a professional who has the skills you can benefit most from.

3. 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 some are even free, making it convenient and affordable to fit into your schedule. You can enroll in classes for specific skills or for general business knowledge.

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