The Top 10 Soft Skills You Need to Run a Business

The Top 10 Soft Skills You Need to Run a Business

When you first set out to create an agency, it can seem like you’re in the driver’s seat. After all, you’re calling the shots and every decision rests in your hands. But once you’ve established your company and begun to grow it, you’ll quickly realize how many people are involved in making even the simplest decision, let alone that big-ticket item on your to-do list.

1) Communication

There are two types of communication—verbal and non-verbal. While verbal skills are relatively easy to learn and work on, it’s important to develop good non-verbal skills as well. This includes eye contact, maintaining steady voice inflection, body language (don’t cross your arms!) and using gestures appropriately. Always be aware of how you’re presenting yourself when communicating with clients or potential clients; it will make all the difference in their perception of you.

The Top 10 Soft Skills You Need to Run a Business

2) Positive Attitude

Believe it or not, your attitude is one of—if not THE—most important factors when you’re running your own business. Running an agency requires an immense amount of work and creativity, and you need to be enthusiastic enough to be up for any challenge that comes your way. It’s also important that you can take feedback gracefully—after all, there will be times when people are unhappy with your work! When problems arise, it’s crucial that you have high emotional intelligence and can manage stressful situations without having them affect your productivity. Additionally, it is valuable for any new entrepreneur to have good problem-solving skills since issues will arise constantly during business development.

3) Teamwork

Teamwork is more than just working well with others; it’s about respecting everyone’s strengths, handling each other respectfully, and being open-minded and willing to learn from one another. Encourage group participation, involve your team in decision making, and hold each other accountable for results. Though soft skills are often neglected in business settings because they can be difficult to quantify or measure directly, they make all the difference when it comes to productivity and longevity of staff.

4) Time Management

Time management is about far more than just managing your time, it’s about managing yourself. Time management skills are crucial if you want to take control of your business and focus on what’s important. There will always be more that you could be doing, but you have to learn how to let go and prioritize. Without time management skills, things can easily slip through the cracks, leaving you with unfinished work that no one wants or needs. The trick to effective time management is making sure you know exactly what you need to do each day in order to meet deadlines and objectives. In other words, don’t spend time worrying about all of those what-if scenarios. If something goes wrong, figure out how to fix it later. Focus on what matters most now!

5) People Skills

Some of your most important people skills will be your ability to lead, inspire and motivate other people. You’ll need these to get through all sorts of situations—in particular, those when you have to make decisions about hiring or firing employees. The nature of running an agency means that you’ll also need these interpersonal skills just as much with clients and potential clients. Building and maintaining relationships is an absolute must for success in business.

6) Work Ethic

If you’re starting an agency, then it probably means you’re in a position of leadership and management. You will have employees and clients. As such, there is no room for slacking or burnout. Make sure that your employees are always busy by setting them up with challenging projects and goals that keep them working hard throughout their days (and nights). And don’t forget about yourself; every entrepreneur needs to take frequent breaks so as not to burn out. Take vacations, spend time with family, get some exercise — whatever it takes to keep your mind clear. If things are piling up and getting difficult, don’t hesitate to ask for help from other members of your team or hire someone new who can lighten your load.

7) Leadership and Motivation

A successful agency is driven by its leader and inspiring team members. Although we’ve written extensively about what you need to be good at your job, being able to motivate and lead your team effectively is crucial to your agency’s success. Think of each member of your team as an individual puzzle piece—it can be difficult at times, but with persistence and encouragement, you can make everyone work together in perfect harmony. The trick? Working with people who have complementary skillsets while allowing them some creative freedom (to get better over time). If you want employees who are loyal, proactive and produce excellent work under pressure—and let’s face it, every business owner does—you need strong leadership skills.

8) Networking

Face-to-face communication skills are hard to teach and easy to learn. In an agency setting, you’re going to need lots of them, so you may as well start practicing today. There’s nothing worse than meeting new people who don’t make an effort or who speak over their listeners’ heads. So smile, sit up straight, and get ready to network! When someone introduces themselves at one of your events (or even just around town), listen carefully and let them speak before you jump in with questions. The last thing they want is someone interrupting them midsentence because they were too busy doing something else!

9) Decision Making and Problem Solving

Every agency owner has to make decisions and solve problems. The only difference is that some do it quickly, others may dawdle or avoid them altogether. Therefore, making quick decisions and solving problems will be extremely important as you grow your agency. While most of your decisions will not be life-or-death ones, they’ll still have impact—and with more impact comes more responsibility for making sure that your business continues to run smoothly.

10) Creativity

Some agencies specialize in creativity, others look for people who can think on their feet. Creativity is one of those skills that is often most highly valued, but rarely defined. It’s up to you (and your team) to determine what creativity means for your company. One of our clients looks for candidates who were creative in school and are pursuing or have an advanced degree in an artistic field – but not necessarily design. If that’s too specific for you, consider asking candidates how they feel about problems and whether they’re able to identify multiple ways around obstacles.

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