Knowing your numbers
You can’t escape numbers in business. Even non-accountants need to understand financial data, to know the difference between cash and profit and why the balance sheet must balance. The more you understand how the numbers work, the more you’ll understand how business works, and the more valuable you will be to your boss (even if your boss is you!).
Being business aware
Some people call it ‘commercial awareness’, too. It means taking every opportunity to learn more about business and the wider environment that companies operate in. For example – who are their customers and competitors? It also means learning about good customer care and other things that are good for business.
Before you are ready to manage projects, teams and companies, you must learn to manage yourself. It involves setting and working towards goals, developing a ‘can do’ attitude, making decisions, managing your time and being in charge of your personal and professional development. It’s also about being flexible, resilient and assertive, especially when the going gets tough.
In most careers, your people skills – also known as ‘soft skills’ – have as big an impact on your success as your technical skills. Effective communication is one of those skills. It means you are a good listener, you can speak with others without causing conflict and you can ‘read’ their body language and their emotions.
Being able to work well with colleagues is crucial in any business field. Can you help others to perform better? Are you ready to put another’s interest above your own? You’ll need your effective communication skills for this one, too – to negotiate, influence and advise your colleagues.
This is sometimes called ‘networking’. It can take place both face to face and on social media. No matter how talented you are, you simply cannot advance your career without creating and maintaining good relationships with colleagues and contacts.