Internet Self Improvement

5 Critical Skills to Teach Yourself Before Starting Your First Business

Joel Lee 26-06-2014

Thinking about starting a business? It’s never been easier to do so, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Entrepreneurship requires a certain kind of person — one who isn’t a specialist of any particular thing but more a jack of all trades. If you want to succeed, you’ll need to wear every hat at some point. That’s a lot of skills to learn.


Before starting, you should check out our guide to starting a business How To Start An Online Business Read More as well as these online courses for starting a business Bite The Entrepreneurial Bug By Taking 7 Free Online Courses On How To Start A Business In any 21st century job, the work is hard and the hours are long. Thankfully, there’s a secret mantra revealed to the truly courageous – if you are not in a perfect job; create one... Read More . It’s also important to recognize that entrepreneurship is more than just practical skills; you need to have the right confidence 5 Tips To Build Your Confidence When Founding An Online Business Now is a great time to start. Don’t let a lack of confidence stop you. Once you take the plunge, you'll be determined to do whatever it takes to make things work. Read More to pull it off.

But practical skills are important. Consider learning these if you haven’t already.

Daily Routine


There’s a reason why the phrase “like a well-oiled machine” is used to describe successful people and organizations. Nothing leads to efficiency and productivity faster than a steady, regular routine. But to be clear, it’s not the routine itself that you should seek; it’s the mindset and attitude that results from adhering to said routine.

A daily routine cultivates work ethic. As an entrepreneur, you are your own boss and you need to be able to force yourself to work even when you don’t feel like it. Sticking to a routine is a good reminder that you need to work and the regularity of it helps stave off the temptation to waste time on YouTube or Facebook.


A daily routine promotes perseverance. No matter what, you’ll have to sink a lot of hours into your business before it takes off. There will be plenty of days where it seems like you’ve already failed. When those days hit, a routine will be your lifesaver. It allows you to ignore everything, fall into a rhythm, and get through the day while still being productive.

Email Management


One of the most important skills to master is email management. Despite the fact that the tech world probably should’ve moved on from emails by now, the truth is that email reigns supreme for business communication. Want to succeed? You better embrace it.

Learn about email etiquette. Believe it or not, email has its own set of unspoken rules of courtesy and you would do well to learn them. Obviously, these rules can differ from person to person and company to company, but at least keep these guidelines for general email etiquette 7 Netiquette Guidelines For Writing Emails & Forum Posts Netiquette is short for network or internet etiquette. It encompasses the special set of social conventions found in online interactions. While netiquette is very similar to good behavior or etiquette in offline encounters, there are... Read More in mind.


Learn about email productivity. The more you succeed, the more your inbox will overflow. Fan mail, hate mail, requests for help, people pitching their own ideas to you — it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of it. That’s why it’s crucial that you learn how to email efficiently 10 Tips To Help You Email More Efficiently The best advice I have heard about email and email productivity is – don’t answer emails first thing in the morning. It is a bit paradoxical but true that email and productivity are at loggerheads... Read More now before you find yourself neck-deep in all of that.

Learn about email security. Everyone’s inbox is vulnerable. Yes, even yours. Malware, hackers, identity thieves, etc. Do you want to lose your important emails? Even worse, do you want someone to hijack your email address? Security is about proactivity, so be sure to learn these email security habits 7 Important Email Security Tips You Should Know About Internet security is a topic that we all know to be important, but it often sits way back in the recesses of our minds, fooling ourselves into believing that "it won’t happen to me". Whether... Read More before you get caught with your pants down.



The Internet is now a core aspect of life in the first world and most online interactions involve a website of some kind. If you don’t have a website, you’re going to miss out on a lot of exposure. There’s just no excuse not to have a website, and similarly, there’s no excuse not to learn basic HTML Get Started With HTML5 You’ve heard of HTML5. Everybody is using it. It's being heralded as the savior of the Internet, allowing people to create rich, engaging web pages without resorting to using Flash and Shockwave. Read More and learn basic CSS 5 Baby Steps to Learning CSS and Becoming a Kick-Ass CSS Sorcerer CSS is the single most important change webpages have seen in the last decade, and it paved the way for the separation of style and content. In the modern way, XHTML defines the semantic structure... Read More .


With HTML and CSS, you gain the ability to make changes to your website without needing to pay someone hundreds of dollars for simple tweaks. If you learn enough, you can build your own websites to your exact specifications. You end up saving a lot of time and money.

But the benefits extend even further.

The most important thing about learning how to code — whether a scripting language like HTML/CSS or a true programming language — is that it forces you to think in a new way. It emphasizes cause-and-effect, teaches you how to troubleshoot problems, and promotes technical savvy. The ability to code your own website is a bonus.

Marketing and Promotion



There’s no point in running a business if people don’t know about it. As an entrepreneur, your skillset must include a knack for marketing and promotion, otherwise your business will crumble into obscurity and die a lonely death. What’s the first step?

The easiest path would be to start with online promotion of your business Get It Right: 5 Creative Ways To Promote Your Home Business Online Just because your business is not an Internet business doesn't mean you can ignore the Web. Here are some simple ways that anybody can utilize the Internet for some affordable business exposure. Read More . Ideas include:

Bottom line? You can’t be scared. Do everything within your power to get your name and your brand out there for people to find. If you aren’t going to market and promote yourself, then why should anyone else?

Data Analytics


How do you know if you’re succeeding or not? That’s a personal question that requires a personal answer, but for modern day startups, success is usually determined by traffic, exposure, and sales. To measure success, then, you’ll need to know something about analytics.

The most popular solution would be Google Analytics Your Guide To Google Analytics Do you have any idea where your visitors are coming from, what browsers most of them use, what search engines they use, or which of your pages is the most popular? Read More , a powerful service that can track web traffic and break it down into useful metrics for you to examine. Other examples include social media analytics 3 Ways to Get Your Hands on Free Social Analytics Reports Accessing quality social media reports can often become a costly endeavor. Here are some free ways to get them. Read More as well as sales reports, at least in the case of online or digital merchandise.

The real skill here, however, is the ability to parse and understand the data presented by whatever analytics tool you use. Are you able to interpolate when there’s missing data? Can you extrapolate a given trend into the future? Analytics can help you figure out what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, but the best entrepreneurs can use that data to see what they normally can’t see.

Final Thoughts

Be reminded that knowing these skills will NOT guarantee success. However, they will decrease your likelihood of failure and tip the balance in your favor. Can you succeed without one or more of the above? Sure, it’s possible, but it will be near impossible without a whole lot of luck. Don’t leave it up to luck.

Did I miss anything? What other skills would you say are necessary to know before starting a business? Have you ever tried to start your own business? Share your thoughts and wisdom with us in the comments below!

Image Credits: Successful businessman Via Shutterstock, Schedule Book Via Shutterstock, Tablet Emails Via Shutterstock, HTML Source Via Shutterstock, Word of Mouth Via Shutterstock, Tablet Data Graph Via Shutterstock

Explore more about: Business Technology, Google Analytics.

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  1. Philip Bates
    June 29, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    And learning not to sell yourself short.

    When you first get going, you're desperate to prove yourself and not lose any clients. But if you undervalue our work, you undervalue yourself and a client might lose faith.

    Learn your worth. That's important. Sometimes, that can be depressing, but often, it means you put on a higher price than you initially thought you'd charge.

    • Joel L
      June 30, 2014 at 4:04 am

      Absolutely. I'm glad you brought it up because it's important. Freelancers in particular tend to undervalue themselves by a large margin. Be bold and learn to discern value!

  2. Peter Biggins
    June 26, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I have 2 businesses, property and printing which I've started from scratch and run for 20 years, perfectly well without any of the things listed. All business at base has always and always will be based on 3 things. Buy at the right price, sell at the right price and make sure you collect the money.

    • Jack
      June 26, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Agree, if you don't have sales skills you will never get off the ground, Throw in some people skills and your off and running.

    • Joel L
      June 30, 2014 at 4:03 am

      Surely there's more to it than buy-sell-collect? Otherwise everyone would be doing it.

  3. Jon
    June 26, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    #6 Financial Management.

    • Joel L
      June 30, 2014 at 4:02 am

      Good point, though that might be more relevant for "keeping a business alive" rather than "bringing a business to life". A subtle difference, definitely.