Last year I wrote a post on soft skills every aspiring business owner should brush up on. But hard skills are arguably even more important for budding entrepreneurs to learn. You need hard skills to perform crucial tasks like writing a business plan, maintaining the books, and marketing your products and services to consumers. Even if you have a great business idea, you won’t be able to get it off the ground until you master these three hard skills.
As a freelance writer, I may be a bit biased, but I believe persuasive writing is the top hard skill entrepreneurs need to learn. Writing is involved in almost every aspect of starting and running a business. You need writing chops to create a business plan, draft marketing emails, write product descriptions, manage your social media pages, and post job descriptions on Indeed.
However, you can’t just put any words you want on the page. Your company’s marketing messages have to be engaging and convincing enough to turn prospects into customers, which is why you need to learn the art of persuasive writing. There are plenty of online courses and books that can teach you essential persuasive copywriting skills. My personal favorite is The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly.
But if you don’t want to spend any money on copywriting resources, you can figure out how to improve your writing by reading marketing materials from successful brands like Wendy’s.
Financial literacy is another hard skill entrepreneurs need to keep the doors open and the lights on. Unless you have the funds to hire an accountant, you’ll have to learn bookkeeping skills like how to use accounting software and keep track of your cash flow. If you don’t know how much money is coming into and going out of your business, you may end up cash-strapped and be forced to take on debt just to stay afloat.
Speaking of debt, it’s also important to gain an understanding of business loans and credit cards. Most small businesses have debt, which is often required to buy new inventory and expand your company. However, it’s crucial to learn the difference between good and bad business debt.
You don’t want to take on too much debt, especially for depreciating assets that won’t add value to your business in the long run, such as a brand new commercial vehicle. It’s also a bad idea to take out new loans to cover old loans, as you may get caught in a vicious debt cycle. Learning debt management skills is key so you don’t get in over your head and end up with a bunch of debt obligations your business can’t meet.
When I started my freelance writing business, I didn’t have enough digital know-how to set up my own website. I ended up hiring someone to make a webpage for me, and it cost me $2,000. It was an expensive wakeup call that I’d have to develop basic tech skills to be a successful business owner.
Tech problems are inevitable, so it’s important to figure out how to troubleshoot them yourself. You’ll save a lot of money if you don’t have to hire an IT professional or pay for ongoing website maintenance.
Which hard skills have been crucial to the success of your business? Are there any hard skills you wish you were better at? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.