Possessing business acumen is crucial for your success in the business world, and it’s a skill you can develop using the right techniques. Running a business is challenging and even just being a part of the corporate world takes a lot of hard work where knowledge doesn’t automatically translate into success. In reality, it usually takes people years to move up the ladder and some stay in the same position for a long time. In order to grow in business and move forward, you need to demonstrate business acumen. And contrary to popular opinion, it’s not about good business sense and gut instincts. It’s more about possessing concrete skills that can help boost your career.
When you clearly understand your personal goals and expectations at work, making decisions and completing the daily work becomes much easier. For the same reason, you should regularly share strategic business goals with your employees and discuss how each employee can contribute toward achieving these goals. Once this discussion has happened, all employee projects should align with a strategic goal. Knowing how their contributions contribute to overall business success can be a powerful incentive.
What is business acumen?
To make things clear, business acumen is the ability to make rational business decisions by considering various factors to reach the best outcome for the present situation. However, developing business acumen competency isn’t only reserved for leaders – this skill extends to all employees in everyday situations and includes improving one’s efficiency at work and being capable of solving challenging problems. An added bonus is that developing your business acumen generally translates into success in your career. Therefore, it’s not surprising that people with great business acumen are recognised as exceptional talents, and greatly respected and revered in their field. A great example of business acumen in action can be seen in business leaders such as Steve Jobs.
It’s easy to fall into a rut at work and remain focused solely on your own job. In such a mode, employees work automatically without much consideration for what the others are doing. However, when they understand how their job correlates to the overall strategy, they also understand that there’s a close connection between all departments. Implementing cross-training plays an important part in helping your employees get a better picture of what is happening in other departments and how their colleagues perform their jobs. It broadens their perspectives, increases awareness and even makes them feel less alienated and isolated.
Enable cross-departmental problem solving
In addition to cross-training, cross-departmental problem solving includes getting a representative from each business sector, marketing, accounting, finance, and sales, to jointly discuss ways of solving a specific problem. Different perspectives can lead to finding more creative and embracive solutions to problems. This method also allows employees to continue bearing in mind the workings of other departments and how they all collaborate with each other.
Understand your customers
The next step is understanding your customers in the sense of how they first come to your business, what their experience with your company is like and what it is that you can do to keep them long-term. You can even turn this information into a game where employee teams represent the different sides of the business. By acting out various customer scenarios and role-playing, each team examines the stages of the customer lifecycle. This gives a better picture of customer service and a deeper understanding of the entire process. Also, if one employee struggles with helping a customer with an issue, they know who to turn to within your organisation.
Encourage employee education and development
There are limits as to what a business manager can do to teach their employees, so the next step is to offer your teams various tools to educate themselves. Some options can include books or online resources on developing business skills that can be reviewed during breaks, partnering up with local academic institutions that can offer continual business education for employees and online training courses designed to develop business acumen. In this way, your employees have access to resources to improve their own understanding of business issues and it can make a big difference in one of your employees performing better in the future.
Improving business acumen in your company takes time, but once you start, you can immediately begin to apply your knowledge. Once you notice that your decision-making is faster, you’re able to focus effectively when things go wrong, and your employees cooperate efficiently, you’ll know you’re on the right track.