Setting Yourself Up for Success: Identifying the Skills You Need to Succeed … and Learning Those Skills

Understanding the knowledge you’ll need when you start your business can prevent the “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” phenomena that stalls and derails many start-ups. Factoring in the time it will take you to learn the new skills necessary for launching, operating, and marketing your business also leads to more realistic expectations and can keep you from getting frustrated while learning the new skills. The first step, of course, is to think through what you will need to know in order to produce and market your product or service and get your business started.

There are at least three types of knowledge an entrepreneur needs:

  1. Basic Knowledge: This is the knowledge required for any business of the general type being launched. Some examples:
    1. If the business provides a service such as appointment management or any type of administrative support, knowing how to use a computer and office software is basic knowledge that’s needed.
    2. If the business produces a product or product line, understanding supply chain and inventory management is required.
    3. If the business relies on social media and the Internet for product sales, the business owner must have enough basic Internet skills to be able to communicate effectively.

Basic knowledge is readily available at a low cost. You can buy or borrow a book, take an online tutorial or a community college course, or both.

  1. Specialized Knowledge: This is the knowledge required for the specific type of business. Some examples:
    1. If the business involves writing and self-publishing books, the business owner will have to learn how to format books for publication, where to publish, how to do order fulfillment, and the skills necessary to market the book.
    2. If the business involves cookie baking or cake decorating, the business owner will need to understand the best ingredients to use, how to produce predictable results, how to price their products and where to sell them.
    3. If the business targets seniors, the business owner will need to understand the issues facing that population, what programs and services are available, and the best approached for marketing to seniors and their families.

Specialized knowledge is also readily available. With the wealth of information available on the Internet today it can be time consuming to sift through all of the information. Organizing your approach, then breaking it down into steps helps you target what information you’re seeking.

You can also gain a host of information by taking a part time job in a business that offers the same products or services you’ll be offering or by starting or joining a networking group for people in the same business.

  1. Start-Up Knowledge: This is the knowledge needed to start-up the business. Some examples include:
    1. The registration and licensing requirements for the business selected.
    2. How to write an effective business plan.
    3. The insurance that is needed to protect the business.

This information is readily available often at a low or no cost. In the US you can start at the Small Business Administration’s website:

Once you’ve learned a new skill, the best way to master it is to teach it to someone else, maybe another micro-entrepreneur who’s starting a business.

In $1,000 Start-Ups I’ve provided a list of the Basic, Specialized, and Start-Up information you need for each of the 60 businesses. I hope it saves you some time and frustration when you launch your new business.

Published by Leah Ward-Lee

Leah Ward-Lee, the author of "$1,000 Start-Ups", is a serial micro-entrepreneur. She opened her first business at ten after lobbying for and receiving a shoe shine kit for Christmas. She pulled her wagon through the neighborhood, going door-to-door, offering to shine her neighbor’s shoes for twenty-five cents a pair. Once her wagon was full, she took the shoes home and polished them. Unfortunately that business was short-lived. She hadn’t tagged the shoes and couldn’t remember whose shoes were whose, so her dad went with her to retrace the route until every pair was returned. Since then she’s had businesses developing and teaching college courses, instructing aerobic classes, owning half a plane that was rented to a flight and maintenance school, and renting homes. She’s also owned a consignment store, a gift shop, a gift basket business, a consulting firm, hosted The Executive Toolbox (a weekly radio show), and a publishing company. She also spent twenty years in the US Army, served as the Chief Information and Technical Officer for two major insurance companies, and has a second career as a management consultant. Leah resides in Dallas, TX and on Amelia Island with Sammy and Goliath, her two rescue dogs.


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