9 Essential Skills You Need to Start and Run a Successful Business

It’s easy to feel underqualified when you’re about to start a new business. It’s a huge undertaking!

But the fact is that more people than ever seem to be taking the leap. In 2022, according to a new Yelp study, new business listings on the consumer review platform hit an all-time high.

Yelp credits the ability of entrepreneurs and small businesses to persevere through labor shortages, high inflation and supply chain challenges.

Indeed, there are so many factors that play into whether or not your business will succeed. And, while not every factor has to do with your performance as a business owner, some of the most essential skills for starting and running a business in 2023 and beyond are within your control or achievable. They include:

  • Financial literacy
  • Marketing skills
  • A good handle on technology
  • Communication and negotiation skills
  • A positive attitude, even under pressure
  • Strong time management skills and the ability to delegate

To find out how these skills and others can help you run a successful business, keep reading.

Financial literacy

In order to start a business and stay in business, you’ll need to experience financial growth at some point. You don’t need to have the skills of a financial planner to start a business, but you do need to have a good working knowledge of finances and financial management.

As you grow your business, you may hire someone with a better understanding of finances to handle that aspect of the business. But you still need a good working knowledge of all things money. You should be able to budget effectively and report your financial performance. You should also be able to find what areas are affecting your revenue.

Effective marketing skills

No matter what kind of business you want to start, you’re going to have to do a lot of marketing. You must be a successful marketer to gain clients or customers and keep your business growing. Convincing someone that they need your products or services is a special skill.

In addition to growing your customer base, you need marketing skills to hire employees and grow your team. You have to market your business, and if you’re just starting out, that can be especially challenging. But when you employ the right marketing techniques, you can sell yourself, your business and your products or services to anyone!

Related: 10 Common Traits of an Entrepreneur


The modern entrepreneur’s most essential tools are arguably a computer and a smartphone. Staying on top of the latest tech trends these days can feel nearly impossible. But if you want to start a business, it’s worth taking the extra time to get to know new technology as it hits the market.

When you’re able to wield the power of technology in your business, a lot of areas become easier. For example, when you know how to use the best financial software, doing payroll and keeping track of revenue becomes simpler. Knowing social media will help you market your business and even attract employees. You’ll probably have to use Excel and Microsoft Word a lot. Be prepared to always adapt to new and improved technologies!

Strong communication skills

Good communication is of the most useful skills that anyone can have, especially in the workplace. But strong communication skills are absolutely essential for entrepreneurs. When you start a business, you’ll be communicating with employees, clients, customers and vendors. You must be able to communicate clearly and concisely, no matter what medium you’re using: email, phone, video chatting, etc. Possessing this skill is even more essential when face-to-face communication is limited.

Good communication will also help ensure you have strong relationships with all of the people mentioned above. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be an extrovert, but it does mean you need to be a good communicator when it counts. Miscommunication in the business world often spells losses.

The ability to have a positive attitude even when things are stressful

There are going to be times when nothing seems to be going your way. There will be plenty of times when you aren’t profiting the way you have in the past or the way you think you should. There will be times when you need to make difficult decisions like letting staff go or raising prices.

How do you think you’ll be able to handle all of these things? If you’re equipped for running a business, you’ll still stay strong against the pressure.

Smart employee delegation

You can’t run a business alone. In the beginning, you might be doing everything yourself, but if you scale, you’re not going to be able to do it all alone. You’re going to have to start hiring employees.

A good entrepreneur is able to let go of micromanaging everything for the good of their business. You should also be able to recognize the skills of different employees and give them the opportunities they need to shine.

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Effective leadership

Delegation won’t be enough if you aren’t a strong leader. Being a good leader always means pushing your employees to do their best. You should strike the right balance between motivating and critiquing when necessary.

Fortunately, leadership is a learned skill, not something that you have to necessarily be born with. There are lots of resources and online education options that will help make you a better leader.

Strong time management

No matter what industry you’re in, starting a new business comes with a seemingly endless to-do list. Sometimes it might feel like you have to be a superhero to get it all done. But you don’t! You just have to be good at time management.

You need to create a schedule and stick with it, and that includes meeting deadlines. The more effectively you manage your time, the more opportunities you’ll have to grow your business. Your time is valuable, and when you’re using your time effectively, your business will benefit.

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The ability to negotiate for the good of your business

Money is going to be tight when you first start your business. You want to save money in as many areas as you can, and negotiation can help you in that department. You can negotiate with vendors for the best prices on the items you need. Being able to effectively negotiate isn’t just about money. It’s also about time. Unhappy with a deadline from a client? Good negotiation skills will help you get a more desirable deadline.

Negotiation goes hand in hand with communication. Whether you’re talking to someone over the phone, or over email, you should always be prepared for a negotiation. It will also help you when someone else starts a negotiation with you. If a customer or client is unhappy about a timeline or a price, negotiating gives you the confidence to stand firm!


A combination of these skills is absolutely essential if you want to start your own business. In order to stay in business, you’ll need a strong understanding of finances. You should be able to market your business and utilize the latest technology when necessary. Make sure to communicate effectively and stay positive, even under high-pressure situations. Being able to delegate to your employees and lead them well are key in helping your business succeed. Managing your time is also essential. Whenever there’s a need for a negotiation, you should be ready to fight for the good of your business!

Starting a business requires several skills that you’ll need to hone and improve if you’re going to be successful.

Originally published Aug. 9, 2020.

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