Is a Lack of Business Skills Holding You Back? Top 11 Business Skills to Learn

Picture of Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

There’s this wild rumor floating around…

Knowing what I’m about to tell you is actually a huge myth is one of the biggest business lessons I’ve ever learned.

Because time and time again, creative entrepreneurs launch a business with the BEST intentions.

They’re incredibly smart.

They’re good at what they do. (Like, really good.)

AND they want to help people.

It seems like the perfect plan.

And then… it all falls flat.

20% of small businesses die in the first year.

50% are gone by the five-year mark.

And at ten years?

Only one-third ever get there.

For creative entrepreneurs, it’s so easy to fall into this trap. But I’m not going to let you be in that 77% of businesses that fail.

Because you’re not like most businesses.

Instead, you’re going to go into this business-building world with a plan — the right skills and strategies so you have complete clarity on where you’re headed.

Because you ARE a rock star at what you do… and the only things missing are the (totally learnable) business skills. A lack of business skills will put ANY type of entrepreneur in hot water.  🔥

So today, we’ll cover why so many businesses fail when translating passions into a profitable business.

Plus, I’ll show you the most important business skills you need to learn if you’re a creative entrepreneur looking to grow a business sustainably (without crashing and burning from exhaustion, stress, and overwhelm).

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Why a Lack of Business Skills Derails Smart Entrepreneurs

content transformation podcast with julia mccoy episode 15 your skill is not a business

If you’ve had a chance to listen to the above podcast episode 🎙️, you’ll be able to imagine the following scenario about Anne well.

Anne had an awesome idea for a business she could create online. She’s SO good at her technical recruiting profession, and she’s decided to share her knowledge with new and struggling tech recruiters.

Here’s the biggest myth I’m throwing out the door for you today:

Just because you’re really good at something, doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be good at running a business. You learned how to be truly excellent at your skill through gaining knowledge and experience over time, and this will be the same for your skills around business as well.

Creative skills and business skills are completely different groups of skills.

creative skills and business skills

Many creative entrepreneurs think they can easily run a business — but it isn’t true. In the infamous book The E Myth, author Michael E. Gerber points out leadership and management don’t come naturally to some — if not most — creative entrepreneurs. Sound familiar?

I’m a writer at heart, and it took me four years of struggling with my content business before I finally realized what I was lacking and went out to get the business skills I knew I needed.

creative skills and business skills are separate

Even if you’re a solopreneur, the importance of business skills can’t be overlooked. But with all the business development skills training out there, it’s important to focus on just what matters.

These are the specific business skills to know and build today:

business skills

11 Business Skills Every Modern Entrepreneur Needs

Some basic business skills lists might talk about hard skills vs. soft job skills, or include things like Microsoft Word, but let’s get right to the good stuff — these are the skills you’ll need to start and run a profitable business in today’s digital landscape.

#1: Content Strategy Skills

Understanding the basics of building a website content strategy is one of the most important business skills creative entrepreneurs should task themselves with learning right now. 📙

Because I understand the power of content marketing, it still blows me away that only 40% of B2B brands have a documented content marketing strategy.

percentage of b2b marketers with documented content strategy

Documenting your content strategy (and learning what that means, exactly) should be at the top of your entrepreneur to-do list. Because only 11% of companies say they have an excellent content marketing strategy.

Meaning, for the brands that don’t put a plan in place, people will keep finding products and services through a website that does. Make it yours!

content strategy framework

PRO TIP: Seriously, don’t waste your time and money blogging just to blog. Never create content without a strategy behind it or it’ll lead to burnout and lost energy — plain and simple.

#2: Content Marketing ROI Measurement Skills

The data doesn’t lie about how explosive this industry is. Content marketing is worth $400B and will continue to climb to $600B by 2024.

content marketing worth

Image Source: Business Wire

But many of the top business skills lists today cover dated tactics that aren’t transferable into a digital space. (This is why so many people are starting to question if a marketing degree is really worth it in 2022.)

And just as important as USING content marketing as your business strategy, there’s also the very important skill of being able to measure your efforts.

This can include strategies like:

  1. Documenting Google rankings before implementing your new strategy (so you have numbers to compare to down the road)
  2. Understanding how to do keyword research, plus how long-tail keywords work and how to measure their success, vs. just looking at overall traffic
  3. Setting up automated reports to be sent to you through your keyword search content marketing tool (I use and love Semrush)

…and more.

Think about it — big, clunky corporations with tons of red tape haven’t been able to adapt to this content trend for 2022 as well as they could. But you, my scrappy entrepreneurial friend, aren’t tied down by procedures. You can implement these impactful strategies today.

seo course

#3: Financial Skills (for Entrepreneurs)

Don’t close this page just yet. You’re more than capable of learning how to handle your small business finances (without having to hire an entire accounting team!).

Yes, even if you’re a creative at heart.

Because here’s the thing:

Accounting is an essential business skill for accountants to have, not you. Taxes and establishing an LLC are for tax experts. 🧾

So, if you’re not one, connect with a CPA. You’ll need to do this to scale, and it’s SO much better than trying to do it all yourself, getting lost in the weeds, and losing focus on scaling your business.

#4: Business Core Drivers

One of the most impactful small business skills entrepreneurs can learn today is how to nail your 4 Business Core Drivers (including things like your heavily researched target audience and your perfectly crafted mission statement).

Before I had mine down, my content writing agency was pulling in a painful $10k net from $30k gross months. But after I created and documented my Business Core Drivers, I skyrocketed our take-home and was eventually hitting $90k/month. 🚀

These drivers, as I like to call them, were and are the critical building blocks of my brand’s success. I knew they were gold when I hit that $90K… and once I started my coaching program and saw the impact on my students, it solidified how powerful they truly are.

andia CTS testimonial

I’m so proud of Andia, but also not surprised at all. Once she got to Phase Two of my five-phase program, everything changed for her. This part of The Content Transformation System focuses exclusively on building both creative AND business skills.

cts phase 2 - business skills

This is the phase where you’ll learn ALL the real, practical skills you need to have to grow a sustainable business (not what you’re already good at, but the no-fuss marketing and business skills you also need).

Here’s a preview of what’s inside this extremely transformative phase for creative entrepreneurs:

content transformation system phase 2 preview

Tired of pouring your energy and time into researching the “right” way to create content? The Content Transformation System has the proven path you need to start, grow, and run a thriving sustainable business through a crystal-clear strategy.

#5: Transformative Development

You can’t sell a service or product to someone if it’s not going to change their lives. Sorry 🤷.

Does your business do that?

If it doesn’t, you may need to re-tool your offer. Luckily, there’s tons of data out there to help you develop an idea that will truly sell. Something that solves such a specific problem and pain point for people, that it’ll be completely transformative.

Learning how to create services/products that aim to help and solve a major problem is a key creative business skill that takes some practice, but with the right guidance, you can totally get there.

free training

#6: Branding and Website

Understanding how to use your branding to craft a perfect website is a creative business skill you should learn (even if you aren’t a web developer and plan on hiring one, which, please do!)

🛑 But don’t start here. 🛑

First, you need to know who your ideal business persona is.

business persona example

Then, once you’ve got your audience figured out and defined from your research, it’ll be much simpler to move forward with branding (colors, design style, logo, brand voice, etc.) and building your killer website. 🌐

Plus, at this point, you’ll have a ton of great resources to hand over to an expert designer so they can create the perfect branding and website package for you.

#7: Mental Reframing

This might not be one of those hard business skills for a resume, but you’ll carry this one for life.

You need to step into a high-achievers’ mindset.

Overlooking the importance of mindset is a mistake I see business owners make time and time again. As cliché it can feel to some budding entrepreneurs — don’t underestimate this business skill just because it can feel intangible.

Even though the rewards can pay off in dividends, running your own business isn’t an easy endeavor, so your mindset needs your attention — front and center. 🔎

This is your time to break through all the “what ifs” and fear-based thinking to keep showing up with that CEO and boss frame of mind every single day until it’s your natural reality.

This isn’t easy. I get it.

But as a natural pessimist (and after spending the first two decades of my life inside a cult), I was still able to dig deep and turn this on, and it changed my entire life. I think you can get there too, and I talk about the importance of this more here:

#8: Digital Copywriting

Spoiler, there are no “sales skills” on this entire list of business skills. Sorry-not-sorry to Don Draper, but gone are the Mad Men days of marketing execs needing to wine and dine new clients to win them over. Or really, needing to be face-to-face at all.

Today’s marketers use their words to sell, so copywriting for the web is a business skill savvy business creators, entrepreneurs, and anyone trying to sell something is scrambling to learn. 🏃 🏃

Because it’s that powerful.

For instance, email marketing has a 4,200% ROI. So, for every $1 you invest in email marketing, you can expect to make $42 back.

email ROI

Source: Startup Bonsai

And long-form blog content has the best lifespan of content out there.

So, learning how to take the writing skills you already have and switch gears into online writing is essential. This includes (but isn’t limited to) learning how to write:

  1. SEO-driven blogs
  2. Long-form articles, lists, and in-depth guides
  3. Emails that persuade, inspire, and sell
  4. Lead magnets and ebooks
  5. Webinar and video scripts
  6. Sales landing pages
  7. Self-published books (here’s a list of my favorite content marketing books in case you’re in the market for some fresh reads.) 📚

Today, digital marketing skills are king. Write the right words once, and that copy will do the selling for you while you’re off focusing on your business.

#9: Problem Solving

That wild stat about 77% of businesses folding in the first 10 years sucks, I agree. But it happens for a reason, and one of them is entrepreneurs thinking they naturally know how to problem solve (and some don’t even think to teach themselves better decision-making skills, but you totally can).

Because lacking this skill can sneak up on unprepared entrepreneurs quickly.

Learning how to problem solve without dragging your feet or second-guessing yourself and your decisions is huge.

Being open to learning from others who have walked down the path before you, is the most effective way to problem-solve as an entrepreneur. This is exactly what my student Brittany Brander discovered.

brittany brander testimonial

Tapping into the experience of a mentor who has the relevant business skills and experience that you’re hoping to achieve gives you a huge competitive edge. 💥

For instance, my coaching program saves my students years of research time by giving them access to the exact skills, strategies, and system I use for proven content success. Not only that, but I offer 30+ plug-n-play templates you can inject directly into your brand so you’re up and running in just 90 days.

#10: Organizational Skills

Ask, “What skills do I need to be successful?” and nearly every business coach and mentor out there will promote the importance of staying organized. And, even if you’re starting as a one-man or one-woman show, you’ll need to be organized enough to grow your team (if you want to scale sustainably).

growing sustainably

Organizational and business management skills can automate this process so you’ve got it down to just a handful of hours a week where you’re heavily involved. Meanwhile, the rest of the time you’re away but your contractors are working, and your business is essentially running on autopilot. ✈️

But to do this, you have to learn how to be organized in your delegation. Because good management skills are more than a “nice to have.”

They’re crucial, especially as you scale your business into automation.

business skills

Efficient delegation only happens once you find that balance between freedom and responsibility.

Meaning, your contractors should be given tons of freedom to get their work done (so you don’t have to spend time worrying about the work), but also need to know the responsibility and accountability is on them.

Keep this in mind as you start delegating, and if it’s in your budget and you’ve gotten organized, start today by hiring your own content writer.

And remember, people-first management is one of the most critical business skills to learn for effective communication when delegating and staying organized.

10 laws to a self-sustaining business

#11: Business Strategy Skills

These business skills will never be helpful for you or stick unless you actually use them. This is exactly why investing in a mentor with a proven business strategy is key. 🔑

Learning how to build and then execute your business strategy is one of the most essential business tactics on this list. Because once you know all these skills in business, you need a plan to practice them.

How Can I Improve My Business Skills?

You can look all these business skills up one by one and spend hours and hours picking through what you need to know. Hello, burnout!

Or, you can invest in yourself and the skills you know you need, so you can skip the degree and get today’s business skills in months, not years. You need these skills to run a business successfully and achieve sustainable, realistic, and monumental growth.

Ready to turn your passion and experience into a thriving business with 1:1 business guidance from me and my team of expert coaches? Every single creative and business skill you need, plus the strategies to put them into place and give you complete clarity, are inside The Content Transformation System. Apply today to see if you’re a fit.

I can’t wait to walk alongside you in your journey to a sustainable business and life of impact. Start your journey today with my free 30-minute training!

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