Essential skills you need as a business owner

24 January 2023

Essential skills you need as a business owner


Expansion & Improvement

Running a business requires a wide range of skills - especially for owner-managers. They not only have to wear many different hats, but change them over the course of the business’s lifetime. Owners come from a range of backgrounds, with some having worked in a family business, while others may have been employees of a company before purchasing the business through a management buyout. However, no matter where you come from, every owner will have to acquire new skills and identify any gaps in their skillset if they want to succeed.

Kapil Davda explains the key skills you need to run a successful business, how to manage your development over time and why your network is an essential tool for staying ahead.


Essential skills for business owners

A head for numbers

Businesses live and die by their numbers, so as a business owner, you need to be able to understand and manage your financials. This includes interpreting financial statements, creating budgets, and making informed decisions based on data. While it's common for businesses to bring on internal finance teams or work with external accountants, it's still important for the owner to take accountability for the financial health of the business.


Seeing the wood for the trees

Every day running of your business will bring an ever growing list of tasks, surprises and priorities. In addition to being able to focus on the details, it's important for business owners to be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture. This is the key difference between working in the business, compared to working on the business. Owners need to be able to decide, understand and communicate the overall strategy of the business and how each individual task leads to long term goals.


People skills

As your business scales, you’ll move from a small team – maybe just you – to a growing organisation. Getting the most out of your people requires a range of skills. This includes effective communication, the ability to inspire and motivate your team, and managing conflict. It also means knowing when to let go of certain functions, empowering your team to take ownership of their work and make decisions on their own to build new leaders within your business.


Tolerance for risk

Running your own business will seldom be the smoothest path – markets change, plans go awry and you may find yourself operating on the edge of success or failure on multiple occasions. The hard truth is that starting and running a business involves a certain level of risk, and it's important for business owners to be comfortable with this. This means being able to make difficult decisions and being willing to take calculated risks in order to achieve your goals.


Personal resilience

As a business owner, you'll need to be able to bounce back from setbacks and challenges. Building resilience will help you to stay focused and motivated, even when things aren't going as planned. This means keeping your vision in mind, believing in yourself and your team, and making the hard decisions that keep you moving forward.



Effective prioritisation is crucial for business owners, as there is often a lot to juggle. You'll need to be able to identify the most pressing tasks and focus on them first, while also finding ways to balance the demands of the business with your personal life. This can be especially challenging for owner managers, who may have a strong emotional investment in the business. However, getting lost in the business and neglecting yourself can lead to more stress, family friction and, eventually, burnout.


Building the right set of skills

While we have an image of founders as brilliant leaders who know all the answers, one of the most important things to accept is your own internal competencies and areas where you may need help. The skills that business owners need will change over the course of their business journey. In the early stages, it may be all about survival, cash flow, and sheer determination. As the business grows, you may need to focus on expanding, fundraising, and managing a team. Your network is an essential resource:

  • Find a business mentor or coach to help you identify any improvement areas in your skillset and provide guidance and support.
  • Find networking groups and clubs that can provide a more structured environment for business owners to connect with peers, find mentors, and share insights.
  • Seek out new learning opportunities and stay connected with other business owners and professionals. This could involve working with an advisor or mentor or joining a networking group,


How we can help

At Haines Watts, we work with our clients as individuals – understanding not just their figures, but also their goals and personal motivators. Growing a business is a journey, and we’re here every step of the way.

While accountants have a reputation for just being focused on the numbers, a large part of my work is helping my clients look at the big picture. By regularly meeting with my clients and maintaining a close working relationship, I aim to help them make informed decisions about their business, including strategies for retiring, selling, expanding, or diversifying.


To find out more about how we can help you grow with your business, get in touch with our team today.


Kapil Davda