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Soft skills for SME owners

You have the technical background to create an excellent business. You know how to design the perfect product. These are all the hard skills but do you have the soft skills to build rapport with the people you work with or to understand emotions and how to deal with them? In this article, we will look at what soft skills are and which are important for SME owners.

What are soft skills?

According to LinkedIn, soft skills are the personal attributes, habits, and attitudes that influence how you interact with others and perform your tasks. These skills are usually inherent but you can improve them.

Let’s take a look at the top six soft skills for SME owners:

1. Communication

This skill is critical for all areas of life but when you are an owner of a small business being able to share your ideas with potential investors and motivating your staff is critical. By being able to communicate clearly, you will make daily activities easy and also prevent your staff from making mistakes. To improve your communication skills you can do the following:

  • Practice active listening.
  • Join a Toastmasters club or small business group where you can practice sharing your ideas in a safe place.
  • Practice writing emails and use images or infographics to help share your ideas.

2. Negotiation

You will need to negotiate with suppliers, employees and customers. It is important to know how to negotiate and how to get an outcome which is a win-win situation for everyone. To excel at negotiation, keep these points in mind:

  • Practice negotiating regularly.
  • Do your research and develop strong counterarguments to key reasons why people will not want to buy your service or product.
  • Take a course in negotiation.

3. Leadership

Some people are born leaders, and others need to work on this skill. Being a strong leader is crucial for a successful business. You need to be able to take ultimate responsibility for your business and take calculated risks to succeed. You also need to know when to pivot if your business is going in the wrong direction. To work on your leadership skills you need to work on the following:

  • Taking initiative,
  • Listening actively, and
  • Working on thinking critically about your business.

4. Discipline

When you start your business, you will have a honeymoon stage where everything will be fun and enjoyable to do but eventually it will become routine and you may lose your passion. This is where discipline becomes important. Discipline is showing up for work no matter how you feel. It is about doing the hard things when you struggle. By being disciplined, you will be successful.

5. Integrity

Can you be trusted on your word? Do you do what you say you will do? According to the Oxford Dictionary, integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change. For small business owners, this means ensuring all your dealings are above board and that you don’t bend the rules. Sometimes bending the rules may seem profitable but in the end, it may come back to bite you when you least expect it.

6. Emotional intelligence

We all have emotions but in business, we need to learn to read emotions and also know how to deal with our emotions. By learning how to deal with emotions, you can ensure that heated conversations don’t escalate.

These are the top six skills SME owners need to have to excel in business.

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