5 Skills You Need as a Business Owner

Developing a Business Idea

Business ownership might seem like the ticket to freedom, financial and career, that many people dream of, but it is hard work being the boss.

There are realities of ownership and leadership that can eat away at a person if they are not prepared or not inherently well-suited for them. Luckily, most are things that, with some dedication and perseverance, can be constantly improved upon and perfected.

Below are five skills you need (and need to work on) as a business owner.

1. Making Clients Feel Special

You prospect a client on your skills and expertise, but very often it is an ability to make a client feel special that keeps them around long-term. To make a client feel like they matter requires an adeptness at relationship building, which means going out of your way to take care of the little details--e.g., holiday, birthday and client anniversary messages, cards and even gifts. These might seem like insignificant gestures, but they make all the difference in the world, especially in highly competitive niches and industries where the customer has so many options and competition on customer service is fierce.

Another way to make clients feel like they matter is by going out of your way to create a pleasurable experience for them while they are in your office. This includes:

  • Making sure reception staff are informed of a client visit and that they go out of their way to make their entry seamless and friendly.

  • Making sure other staff know that a client will be coming into the office and to be welcoming and gracious.

  • Finding out beforehand what a particular client might like to eat and drink and making sure to have it catered during or after a business meeting.

2. An Ability to Identify Talent

Most successful businesses and business owners rarely have gone it alone. They have relied on their human capital to help provide, polish and carry out ideas and strategies. Being able to find and recognize talent in others and, most importantly, properly make use of and deploy it is something that all good leaders have in common. What makes this ability even more crucial is that many otherwise talented and skilled people may have a hard time believing in themselves or having the confidence to make full use of their skills.

A good business owner will be able to recognize this talent in their people, and motivate and encourage them to use it to their full potential. American business writer Tom Peters once famously remarked that “Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.” The process of nurturing and enhancing is how to build your people and, ultimately, build your business.

3. An Elevator Pitch

If you are a business owner, and particularly if you are a small business owner, while you might have a dedicated sales team that is responsible for bringing on new clients, much of the client acquisition likely falls on you. Customers are interested in getting to know and working with the captain of the ship. They want to be confident that they are trusting their business and capital to a person who understands the industry, the new developments, the weaknesses, threats, strengths and opportunities. They want to know that this person fully comprehends their product or service and its unique value proposition.

All of this is contained in your elevator pitch--that 20 to 30-second breakdown of what you have to offer that is succinct, memorable and interesting. This pitch is what you use to entice clients to choose you over the competition and should be locked and loaded, ready to be used and shared wherever the opportunity for new business arises.

4. Time Management

Another one of those indispensable business ownership skills, your ability to manage your time and get the most out of a day or week will make or break your success. The reason for this is quite simple: there is only so much time in a day and working yourself to the bone because you are unable to make effective use of that time is a surefire path to early burnout.

The most comforting thing about time management ability is that it is something that is learned and can be constantly improved upon. You can begin your journey as a business owner with underdeveloped time management abilities and end up a highly efficient time management master. There are myriad apps out there that will help you structure your day and week as well as innumerable books, podcasts, websites and free content for constant inspiration.

5. Stress Management

Hans Selye, who is widely considered the father of stress research, once wrote that “it’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” As a business owner, stress is par for the course. Things do not always go right, problems can come out of nowhere, small matters can become large, the more people you hire, the more problems you must deal with, the list goes on and on.

If you are to have any hope of long-term business success, one thing you must learn to control is your reaction to stress. To a certain degree, stress is unavoidable, but there are better and worse ways to handle stress in the moment. Good stress management techniques include:

  • Relaxation techniques, including breathing, guided imagery and even meditation.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques that, over time, and with practice, help replace the negative thoughts provoked by stressful situations into more positive and healthy ones.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Self-Employment and Running Your Own Business

The Skills You Need Guide to Self-Employment and
Running Your Own Business

If you are thinking about running your own business, or already do so, but feel that you need some guidance, then this eBook is for you. It takes you through self-employment in easy steps, helping you to ensure that your business has more chance of success.

The Skills You Need Guide to Self-Employment and Running Your Own Business is the guide no new or aspiring entrepreneur can afford to be without!

Based on our popular self-employment and entrepreneurship content.


Owning and running a business is not easy. In addition to the hard skills required for success in the industry, there is a litany of soft and, some might call them, “life skills” that are needed to handle the day-to-day of ownership, including people management, relationship building, stress management and time management.

Doing all of this in concert for a long time might seem like a tall order, but they are all things that come with practice.

Keep the above ownership skills in mind, work on them, understand that they are things to be improved upon, and you will make the ups and downs of business ownership much less dramatic.

About the Author

Carrie MacDonald is a digital nomad and freelance writer covering organizational behaviour and human resources. When she is not reading and writing, she is probably out hiking with her dogs or tending a community garden.