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Five valuable skills to teach yourself before launching your first biz

There's something to be said for formal education at a university or college, but entrepreneurs don't necessarily need degrees or credentials to launch their own businesses. However, that doesn't mean education isn't important. It just means that teaching yourself is often a more feasible option.
Knowledge precedes small business success

Every now and then you’ll hear a story about a hugely successful business owner or entrepreneur who simply found himself in the right place at the right time and was able to capitalise on his good fortunes. But, more often than not, business success comes after lots of hard work and sweat equity. Specifically, it tends to come after a faithful investment in education.

But you don’t need a formal four-year college degree or a long list of certifications to acquire the knowledge needed to be successful. With a healthy dose of discipline and determination, you can take a DIY approach.

“Thanks to the huge availability of information these days, any entrepreneur can teach him or herself just about anything,” successful entrepreneur Sam Ovens says. “I read hundreds of books and taught myself all about marketing, sales, accounting, strategy - even personal development methods. I knew that I needed to understand all of this if I wanted my business to work.”

While there are a lot of industry-specific skills that you may need to teach yourself before launching your first business, here are a handful of the basic business skills that entrepreneurs need in 2016 and beyond.

1. SEO

You don’t need to be an SEO expert, but in order to develop websites and content that’s magnetic and highly visible, you’ll need to know a little bit about what search engines are looking for. Once SEO becomes second nature, you won’t even have to think about it. It’ll just be another part of what you do.

2. Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is obviously very important in today’s online business world, but you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars per month on a consultant or service. There are dozens of different ways to teach yourself the basics – and even learn a handful of advanced tactics. Ginny Mineo of HubSpot suggests subscribing to inbound marketing blogs and reading their content on a daily basis, taking HubSpot’s 11-course Inbound Certification course, reading case studies, and signing up for any other free courses you can find.

3. The art of negotiating

If you’ve never owned your own business before, then you’ve probably always relied on someone else to secure clients, set fees, and deal with vendors. Well, guess what – now that’s your responsibility. As such, it would behoove you to learn the art of negotiating. It’ll make your life a lot more comfortable and will result in tremendous cost savings.

4. Basic accounting

Every small business owner needs to understand basic accounting principles. This is especially true if you plan on using an in-house service like QuickBooks. But even if you’re hiring a full-time accountant or outsourcing it to a firm, knowing the basics will allow you to have a better grasp on the big picture.

5. HTML and CSS

While you may not ever build your own website from scratch, that doesn’t mean you can ignore basic HTML and CSS. These are the languages of the internet and you’ll need to understand the basics in order to maximise productivity. With a basic understanding of these coding languages, you can make changes to your website without having to hire a programmer – or even troubleshoot technical problems.

Never stop learning

The thing about the business world is that it never slows down. Just when you feel like you have a grasp on what’s happening, there will be some major shift, development, or change that knocks you off your feet and keeps you honest.

Never stop learning and you’ll position yourself well for the future.

24 Oct 2016 14:23


About Boris Dzhingarov

Boris Dzhingarov graduated UNWE with a major in marketing. He is the CEO of ESBO ltd brand mentioning agency. He writes for several online sites such as,,, Boris is the founder of and