An ‘Entrepreneur’s toolkit’ is helping to provide freelancers and small businesses with the skills necessary to start, run and grow your own business.

With almost five million businesses in the UK, 750,000 of them founded in the last year – the second-highest period for incorporations on record – there are plenty of people in need of support.

That is especially true when you consider that 582,000 filed for dissolution in the same period.

Starting a business is a lot easier than running one; at least, when you don’t have the correct skillset. 

Collated by specialist insurance broker Caunce O’Hara, the ‘Entrepreneur’s toolkit’ contains advice from several small business owners for the various aspects of business.

Skills to start a business

Financial literacy and leadership qualities are both highlighted; however, according to Marc Churchouse, CEO of the Mercator Group, two skills that are essential to starting a business are the ability to forward plan and self learn. 

“Forward planning is essential when starting a business. You need to make your processes as robust and scalable as possible because when you get to the point of needing them in their entirety you will be time poor,” he says. 

“It’s not possible to predict every eventuality; but if you can standardise your back-office processes as much as possible, it will stand you in good stead.”

He also highlights the importance of taking on as much information as possible in the early days, and surrounding yourself with good advisors – especially those who have already lived the journey. 

That way you can pick and choose the lessons to apply to your own journey. 

Skills to run a business 

Once your business is up and running, you should invest in learning to delegate – which will free up your time for the most important tasks and perfect your customer relationships. 

Many businesses live and die by their reputation, which is often built solely off the back of your relationships with clients, customers and especially employees. 

Philip Bacon, of Bacon Marketing, also advises investing in a good time management tool to help you stay on top of your workload and effectively manage your to-do list. 

“We use two-time management tools: ClickUp to manage our projects and activities, including project specific communications; then Clockify to track time being spent, to make sure clients are billed correctly.”

Caunce O’Hara also believes that a key skill to running a successful business is being able to strike a good work-life balance, a sentiment echoed by Tom and Sian of Chatsworth Bakehouse.

“Your typical 9-5 allows for clearly defined work dedicated hours. If you’re doing something you love, it’s yours – there’s a tendency to have zero boundaries with your personal versus work time,” they say. 

“Running your own business means being fully responsible for the day to day as well as the back end. It’s all-consuming, but brilliant.”

Skills to grow a business

Strong marketing skills and the ability to adapt to the unpredictable, like a global pandemic, were high among the skills business owners felt were important for sustaining growth of a business. 

However Richard Osborne, of UK Business Forums, argues that more important than any of that is the ability to accept risk. As the saying goes, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, and Richard believes that failure is never truly failure as long as you can learn from it. 

“Never be afraid of something not working out. If you do, you will just tie yourself up in that. You have got to pick a path, and a route to take, and just start. 

“If you get halfway through and don’t get the results you are after, you step back, take a look at why it didn’t work, and then start again by taking a different path. At the end of that project, ask yourself if you got the outcomes you wanted. If not, what lessons can you learn when you try again? 

“That isn’t failure. That is moving forwards and making progress.” 

And the most important skill according to Caunce O’Hara? Patience.