What non-business skills should you use in your small business

Running a business is difficult. No one has a perfect formula for doing it successfully, guaranteeing income for themselves and employees. What is clear, however, is that there are a number of characteristics a person should have that can improve the chances of success. These are not all taught in business schools or courses, but are sometimes found in other areas. Some of them might seem completely unrelated to running an organisation but, in fact, when considered from a broader perspective make sense. To that end, it’s worth thinking about what these kinds of skills are. No one benefits from not expanding their skillset or at least considering how different skills can be implemented. People are not robots. They learn and acquire new skills as they grow, they get knowledge through reading. All of this must be considered when looking at what you might need to run a successful business.


The main focus for any business is people. This is due to employing them and getting money from them. You need people for supplies, management, deliveries, payment and every other aspect. No business can exist if it doesn’t care about people, fundamentally. This is reinforced in two ways, both of which matter but still require separate skillsets.

  1. Empathy (for employees)

As Forbes notes:

“Some may think they see the results they want from doggedly pursuing their goals without much thought for other people, or others’ successes along the way. This attitude works for some, but at some point – often sooner rather than later –everyone needs to rely on their relationships and established personal and professional connections. These relationships are the product of taking an honest and dedicated interest in others and their businesses. Successful people do not operate alone; each of us needs the support of others to achieve positive results that push us toward our goals. True empathy combines understanding both the emotional and the logical rationale that goes into every decision.”

Ignoring what makes people tick and what matters to them will mean severely undermining your business. Just from a basic level: if you didn’t care about what is important to people, you would never be able to make any business. After all, people are paying for something you are offering – whether a service or product – they clearly require. Thus, by becoming a business person, you are doing so because you already realise people require something. But this fact must be expanded. You should learn how to listen to people without interrupting, ask sensitive questions with tact and be able to record these answers in a way that can let you assimilate it into proper management. This can mean something small like remembering someone’s birthday or their child’s school. Or it can mean something bigger, like what is affecting the market or problems that are making the work environment toxic (such as racism, sexism and so on). All this can be made into a proper business strategy that can enhance productivity.

Part of this also means being good at human resource management (HR). This can mean taking human resources and legal courses training to help you, but it could just mean taking it seriously in future.

  1. Understanding (customers)

Knowing people means you can give them what they want. As we noted, you get into business because you provide something people need. This means you need to be able to listen to all sorts of sources. Learn how to read faster and broader, even in areas you wouldn’t suspect. Social media provides a good platform to hear the opinions of many people, including your customers. Indeed, part of a good social media strategy is knowing how to listen to customers – whether they’re talking to you directly or referring to something that is of interest to you and your industry.  


One of the most underappreciated skills in the world is writing. This might sound strange but because everyone does it all the time, few bother to actually improve on it. Unless your job is professional writing, no one takes classes to improve writing because they assume being able to speak a language fluently is sufficient. Yet this is not true. At the very least, learning basic grammar rules improves your appearance to prospective clients or employees. For example, it might be helpful to go through websites that teach grammar rules. Do you know the difference between when to use “who” and “whom”? Lit Reactor discusses this in its list of common grammatical errors.

‘This one opens a big can of worms. “Who” is a subjective — or nominative — pronoun, along with “he,” “she,” “it,” “we,” and “they.” It’s used when the pronoun acts as the subject of a clause. “Whom” is an objective pronoun, along with “him,” “her,” “it”, “us,” and “them.” It’s used when the pronoun acts as the object of a clause. Using “who” or “whom” depends on whether you’re referring to the subject or object of a sentence. When in doubt, substitute “who” with the subjective pronouns “he” or “she,” e.g., Who loves you? cf., He loves me. Similarly, you can also substitute “whom” with the objective pronouns “him” or “her.” e.g., I consulted an attorney whom I met in New York. cf., I consulted him.’

It might be time to take a writing class, to improve your own abilities and encourage employees to do the same.

These are just some skills to consider when running a business.