Learning new skills is important for small business owners.

DURBAN - The best defence against uncertainty is to ensure we’re always learning something new, says Viresh Harduth, the vice-president of new customer acquisition (small and medium businesses) for Sage Africa and the Middle East.

Here are some of his top tips:

1. Get comfortable with data

Learn how to capture, process and analyse your business’s data. It might sound daunting but data analytics is no longer just for data scientists. Modern analytic solutions have been designed with business-users in mind in order to make it easy for anyone to experiment with data and create useful, visual reports.

2. Become a modern marketer

By capturing and analysing customer data, you can build a database that makes email and direct marketing a breeze. Knowing who your customers are and how they like to be contacted lets you plan everything from mailing lists and social media posts to search engine optimisation.

3. Think differently about business structure

A typical top-down hierarchy can stifle your business’s growth and hamper innovation. Aim to implement a structure that allows for the free, frictionless flow of information across your organisation. Build a culture that rewards people for trying new things and makes employees feel like they have a vested interest in the future of the business.

4. Look on the softer side

With many jobs becoming automated, our ability to relate to, engage with and work well with others will be crucial to success. Soft skills create connections between people, helping us to build relationships based on trust and common ground. 

They include:

  • Negotiation
  • Communication:
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking: Don’t take everything you see at face value
  • Conflict resolution

Leadership: Confidently communicate your vision for the business, promote transparency and visibility, inspire and motivate others to achieve their potential, and be on the lookout for leaders within your own team.