5 Essential Skills For Running Your Own Business – Reading University

Alex Grace is the Managing Director of Banana Moon, a Leeds-based personalised clothing company.

Running your own business is not an easy task, especially in today’s climate. Whilst external factors can have a huge impact on a business’ success, it also takes a certain set of skills to be able to navigate the, sometimes tricky, waters of business management. Having first joined Banana Moon as Marketing Manager, and now as Managing Director, I’ve had the opportunity to see all sides of how the business operates.

Here are my top tips for what it takes to run a business. If you’re in your final year and still deciding what your career path looks like I’m hoping I can help explain some of the softer skills you need, especially if you’re considering launching your own business!

  • Determination

It might sound obvious when I say that ‘determination’ is an essential skill, but when you’re passionate about what you do, determination to succeed is a natural by-product. Running a business does come with a certain level of stress and responsibility, but tenacity, being armed with the right tools, and being surrounded by a team of amazing people makes getting the job done a whole lot easier.

  • Versatility

Being agile when running a business isn’t a new phenomenon but the pandemic has made it clear that if you want to keep your business afloat, then being versatile is essential. Whether that’s diversifying product ranges in line with seasonal changes or catering to new customer trends and shopping behaviours, having the ability and flexibility to adapt our business model has been imperative. Also, especially in the early days of launching your own business, you’ll need to get your hands dirty when it comes to getting the business off the ground and be prepared to do the jobs you don’t always want to do. Now, as Managing Director, every day is totally different; new challenges appear, and my work is never done but I’m still learning every day!

  • Knowing when to step back

With a background and degree in business management I’m used to being hands-on across all elements of business operations but as the business grows, I’ve learnt that I can’t do it all! I’ve got an amazing team that help run the business each with their own specialties. It’s so important to build a network of people that you trust and that can be part of a shared vision.

  • Leadership

This leads pretty nicely on from knowing when to step back, teamwork really is so important to help a business thrive but it’s hard for individuals to get behind a business when they don’t believe in what they’re doing. Leadership skills are actually really different to management skills, the latter is more about making sure all the work is done and to a high standard, but leadership is more about creating an environment and a vision for everyone to truly believe in. Being passionate, striving for the best but also having clear, definable business goals helps create commonalities across the team and an infectious energy too! The pandemic was definitely challenging when it came to keeping the team motivated and connected even when we couldn’t be together which is why we implemented things like ensuring we passed on positive feedback from customers, just bringing good vibes into the consciousness of the everyday.

  • Emotional intelligence

The pandemic took its toll on all of us, and in ways that were sometimes unexpected. Whilst we worked from home during the pandemic, human connection and understanding my team’s emotional needs really came to the forefront. One thing that became abundantly clear for me was that at the end of the day, we’re all human! A natter over a cup of tea doesn’t always cut it but I was keen to create an environment that adapted to a very different way of working. By putting time in to better understand, recognise and manage the emotions of others has had a huge impact on how we operate as a team and how individuals can thrive.

I could go on and on with both the hard and soft skills needed to run a business but hopefully this has given you a little insight into how things run over at Banana Moon.