Freelancers and consultants are becoming much more the norm by the year for a variety of reasons. More people are taking their careers into their own hands, desiring the flexibility to work when they wish and with clients they covet.
But another form of flexibility shows itself at times that will help propel you from one level to the next. The small business owners who can show a range of talents, from writing copy to choosing good design, are the people who can make the most of their meetings and chats with potential clients.
Within any profession, attending continuing education courses and reading relevant journals and publications will keep someone’s skills fresh and polished. Yet, when you work for yourself, you’ll always want to invest in developing further skills that can pay dividends over time.
In the past, people have filled these gaps through partnering with more business-savvy individuals or through outsourcing the work to a consultant. Those are costly ways to take care of the problem.
A better alternative is to, whenever possible, dedicate yourself and your free time to working on gaining these same skills yourself. It’ll be a good long-term asset to promote when you’re competing for work.
Which skills to start with is really dependent on the person, and the work. However, one program that all small business owners should be familiar with is Microsoft Excel. It’s more than just a place to keep your accounting.
Excel can be a real time saver for you and will allow you to focus your attention on the things that really drive entrepreneurs. It’s easier than ever to pick up these skills, even basic ones, and the only hurdle standing in anyone’s way (no matter their age or experience) is fear.
Once you’ve mastered Excel, it’s worth considering the new project to embark on. Each month or each quarter give yourself a project to learn a new skill that is relevant to your industry. Even if you don’t use the program with any regularity, it’s worth knowing a little bit about it so you can talk the talk with clients.
For instance, if you have designers as clients, get to know the basics to Photoshop or Illustrator so that you can speak to them as peers, not as consultants. Break down the walls between you. After all, the same should be said for B2Cs that are looking to really understand the customer before marketing toward them. Otherwise, you’ll miss every time you try to connect with them.
To succeed in small business these days, you’ll want to know a little bit about a lot of things. Thanks to technology and internet accessibility, you can achieve that with greater ease than ever.