Essential Skills for Business Success

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woman at top of mountain celebrating success

Since becoming involved with the industry, I’ve seen many people become successful organizing consultants, but sadly, I’ve seen many others who started an organizing business only to shut it down after a few years, or even a few months. Sometimes there’s an unforeseen change in health or family situation, but often it’s because they lacked the skills required to effectively manage a business.

It makes sense that most professional organizers choose this line of work because they have a passion for organizing, and if you are someone else’s employee, that may be enough. However, the moment you decide to start your own organizing business, you assume managerial responsibilities, and unless your education and previous employment have prepared you for this role, you’re going to be facing challenges you never contemplated.

You are not alone in this. In his best-selling book, The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber refers to it as the Fatal Assumption. Here’s what he said about it:

… you fell victim to the most disastrous assumption anyone can make about going into business.It is an assumption made by all technicians who go into business for themselves, one that charts the course of a business — from Grand Opening to Liquidation — the moment it is made.

That Fatal Assumption is: if you understand the technical work of a business, you understand a business that does that technical work.

And the reason it’s fatal is that it just isn’t true.

In fact, it’s the root cause of most small business failures!

The technical work of a business and a business that does that technical work are two totally different things!

But the technician who starts a business fails to see this.

According to Business School Edge (site no longer online), there are 21 skills that are essential to succeed in business:

  1. Written Communication
  2. Social Networking (in the traditional sense, rather than using Twitter-Facebook-LinkedIn – though those are useful too!)
  3. Public SpeakingEssential Skills for Business Success
  4. Sales
  5. Negotiation
  6. Strategic Planning
  7. Project Planning
  8. Financial Planning
  9. Risk Planning
  10. Logistics Planning
  11. Time Management
  12. Meeting Management
  13. Leadership
  14. Systems Planning and Implementation
  15. Personal Productivity
  16. Imagination
  17. Inventiveness
  18. Problem Solving
  19. Brainstorming
  20. Connecting Ideas
  21. The ability to switch off and relax

Since March is Improve Management Skills Month, take some time to study this list and identify any areas where your skills are not as strong as they should be. I’ll be sharing some ideas and resources to address some of these skills throughout the month, so feel free to share your challenges in the Comments section or ask a question privately.

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A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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  1. Avatar Helena Alkhas on May 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm


    really loved this post and will invest even more time and attention to the “base” of my business. Even coming from a business management background, having your own to run, invest, make it become a source of both pleasure and income is quite challenging. It’s always rewarding to learn, but I’d pass the mistakes! 🙂

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 15, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      Helena, do you think it’s harder for people who start a business in order to make a living doing something they’re passionate about (such as organizing or website design) to break out of what Michael Gerber calls the “technician” role, than it is for someone who decides to do something mainly because they think it will be profitable?

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