Ready to embark on a career in business management? There is a range of skills you’ll need to thrive in the field. You’ll be working on perfecting these skills throughout your career — and your life, for that matter — so the sooner you get started, the better. In other words, even if you’re still in high school or business school, start working on these traits now; when you hit the real world, you’ll be ready to succeed.
You probably saw this one coming, and for good reason — it’s the most important quality a business manager can have. Why? Because, despite the job title, business managers don’t manage a business as much as they manage people. Being able to lead a team and get them all pushing in the same direction is the key to unlocking everything else to business needs to succeed.
Sometimes that may mean you’ll have to speak the harsh truth to people you care for; sometimes it will mean putting aside your ego to serve others and sometimes it will mean sacrificing for the good of the business. Being comfortable in these roles will make people want to follow your lead.
This is a skill many business managers who are just starting out find difficult. As a business manager, you’ll be asked to make countless decisions a day. Some will be minor and of little impact; others will be momentous and can change the course of the company. Being able to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision in a timely manner is crucial. You’ll also need to be comfortable with the consequences. When you make a positive decision, you may receive the credit; when you make a negative one, you’ll be sure to get the blame.
- Managing Financials
A big part of the job of managing a business is navigating the numbers. You’ll need to know the tricks of the trade and industry best-practices when it comes to cost-benefit analyses, projection spreadsheets, budgets and a wealth of other business reports. Nailing down these practical tasks is important for keeping the business afloat, correcting financial mistakes and planning for the future of the business.
- Holding Effective Meetings
As much as people love to complain about them, meetings are one of the best ways to catch everyone up, get on the same page and ensure a productive day. That is, if they’re run well. In planning a meeting, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the logistics covered (things like presentation materials and snacks) but you’ll also want to have a strict agenda and stick to it. Keeping meetings short and on target can take some practice but it’ll make them more effective and less painful for everyone involved.
Many business managers have trouble letting other people do work, either because they think they have to handle everything themselves or they think no one else can do it “right.” For the sake of your sanity, and for the good of the company, business managers must learn to delegate tasks clearly and effectively. Finding the balance between installing the correct controls over employees while still allowing them the freedom to do their jobs.
Here’s the truth — you’re not going to master any of these skills before you start your professional career. In fact, many seasoned veterans in the business say they’re constantly honing these traits. However, a business management degree can give you a good start. In these programs, students get to learn practical skills like budgeting software and the ins and outs of day-to-day management. They also have a chance to develop “soft skills” like leadership, communication, decision-making and delegation, and those skills can be the real key to a successful career in business management.