Essential entrepreneur skills you need to succeed

It's not easy to run a small business. Fortunately, there some key strategies entrepreneurs can call upon to improve their entrepreneur skills.

Gerry Hunchak is a Business Consultant with 20 years of experience with both small businesses and large Fortune 500 companies. He says a good approach to learning how to run a business more effectively is to start with small, immediate improvements and build momentum for bigger changes.

Hunchak offers 8 strategies every entrepreneur can use right away to become more successful at small business management.

1. Make strategic planning a top priority

Entrepreneurs often make strategic decisions in the heat of the moment without proper planning. That can be a recipe for disaster, especially when your business is growing fast. You need a formal strategic plan—a document where you review and detail your company present position, state your goals, identify potential obstacles and establish an action plan to follow.

2. Keep a close eye on your competitors

Regardless of your company's market position, you have to consistently analyze and monitor your competition's moves, strategies, strengths and weaknesses. "Knowing who your competitors are doesn't mean you understand them," Hunchak says. "Benchmark your activities against the competition and strive to find ways to differentiate yourself from them."

3. Work to broaden your client base

One of the most common risks small and medium-sized businesses face is being dependent on one or two major clients. Hunchak says he's seen numerous businesses fail after losing their biggest client.

4. Stay close to your customers

Touch base regularly with both key customers and employees who work directly with them. Listen to their suggestions and follow up.

5. Monitor profit margins

Closely watch gross profit margin for each of your products and don't hesitate to remove poor performers from your mix. "Entrepreneurs often insist on carrying products with no to low profit margins," Hunchak says. "Why keep them, when there's no return?"

6. Develop a cash-flow planner

Many entrepreneurs outsource financial management to their accountant. This can cause them to lose track of their cash flow.

Take an hour and record your month-opening bank account balance and all anticipated cash inflows and outflows. Then, track your cash as it comes in and goes out each day. Now you have a tool that allows you to keep close tabs on how your business is doing and can respond quickly when required.

7. Get started early on HR management

Too often, entrepreneurs think human resources management is only for larger companies. "If you only have one employee, you are managing people and this is HR," Hunchak says.

Establish and document clear company policies and detailed job descriptions. Also, schedule regular meetings with employees to communicate goals, progress and ask for their ideas on how to meet challenges in your business.

8. Consider your website a member of the sales team

"Your website is a member of your sales team and should be held accountable to meet targets."



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