Shoring up your Small-Business Skills

With kids nationwide about to start a new school year, it’s an ideal time for small-business owners to take stock of their professional skills and determine if they too should be heading back to school.


Skill Set Checklist

It takes a smorgasbord of skills to spell small-business success. To maximize your odds of having a thriving enterprise, experts recommend a skill set that includes:


  • Basic bookkeeping – Possessing basic accounting skills, as well as knowing how to navigate accounting software, can save a small-business owner serious dollars. Even if you can afford an accountant, basic bookkeeping knowledge is key to ensuring that said accountant isn’t unscrupulous. Keeping accurate financial records serves as the foundation for small-business success, so if you lack basic accounting know-how, it’s time to enroll in an accounting course. In addition to community colleges and universities, courses also are available online.


  • Marketing – Think of marketing as a bridge that connects your product or service to customers. While it isn’t necessary to major in marketing, small-business owners should have a grasp of marketing fundamentals such as: consumer behavior; market research; advertising; and promotional strategies.


  • Entrepreneurship – Many people assume that entrepreneurship is a state of being or an innate skill. In reality, entrepreneurship can be learned, and small-business owners most definitely need to hone their entrepreneurial skills. Fortunately, there are many free entrepreneurship courses online that cover a broad range of topics such as strategy, finances, human resources, innovation, and global markets.


  • Excel – Although Excel is far from new, it is an essential small-business tool for organizing and reviewing data. In addition to creating basic financial spreadsheets, Excel features myriad other functions – from tracking sales to issuing invoices and producing receipts. If you don’t already, now’s the time to excel at Excel.


  • WordPress – With rare exception, having a website is a small-business must. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a programmer to create an effective website. Simply visit and you’ll be walked through the process. Even better, you can create your website for free.


  • HTML coding – To maximize your website’s effectiveness, you should have at least a basic understanding of HTML coding. That way you’ll be equipped to make website tweaks quickly and without the need to shell out big bucks to an IT pro.


  • Social media – Now that social media is a communications staple rather than a novelty, small-business owners are well advised to refine their social-media skills. There’s a method to social-media effectiveness that extends well beyond simply promoting products and services. Instead, small-business owners should learn to leverage social media as a means of building quality relationships with customers and prospects.


  • SEO – If you’re not familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), your to-do list just grew an item longer. There are SEO seminars specifically for small-business owners where – over the course of just a few hours – you’ll master valuable skills that will significantly improve your website’s effectiveness.


  • Mobile payments – If you’re not using a mobile payment app, you’re missing the opportunity to make more money, get paid faster, and attract more customers – a winning trifecta! Small-business owners are thus well advised to become mobile-payment-app literate ASAP. Start by researching Google Wallet, PayPal Here, and Square.



There’s no shortage of seminars and classes specifically for small-business owners. To get an idea of what’s available, visit these sites:






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Susan Peters