How business owners can strengthen 5 key business skills with 1 simple activity

Most new businesses will fail within the first five years. If you are starting a business you have probably read this before. Do some research and you’ll find that poor management, inadequate funding, or failure to understand your customers tend to top the lists of why this is the case.

Continue researching and you’ll get much on how to make your business a success, with advice like write a business plan, conduct market research, and ensure you have enough capital before you begin, all good suggestions.

However, even the most innovative idea, followed by the most robust market research, accompanied by more than adequate funding can still fail. That’s because success is rarely the product of any single task or decision.

Once your new venture is up and running, your business plan will soon need to be altered, maybe even scrapped altogether, and redesigned. In the end, the differences between the businesses that ultimately succeed or fail, comes down to the individual abilities of the people behind them.

So the question is, what abilities are essential to for you to succeed in a new business? And how do you develop them? Although, some people seem to be born with natural skill and talent, nothing is innate.

Abilities are like muscles, they are developed and strengthened through use. No matter what it is, it can be developed and perfected by anyone doing the right activities. And there is one activity that can help you develop and strengthen five essential abilities for business owners, all at once; public speaking.

1. Self-Education

Those who succeed in the long term never stop educating themselves. Today, ease of access to information has meant that educating yourself has never been easier. However, it requires self-motivation, resourcefulness, and the ability to sort good information from bad.

This is more than just the ability to educate yourself; it is the ability to think and come to conclusions for yourself. And it is essential to progressing any business.

You will exercise and strengthen this ability when writing a speech. In order to stand up and speak to any number of people, you must thoroughly understand your subject matter. To do this you will have to research your topic, drawing off multiple sources to support your points and form a valid position.

When you are doing this you are not only exercising your resourcefulness and expanding your knowledge, but you’re also sharpening your ability to spot poorly supported information.

2. Objectivity

Objectivity is essential in leading any business. Without it you can’t be an effective problem solver. It is the ability to view your opinions and conclusions from a variety of perspectives, so that you can critique yourself.

Many people fail in business because they fail to change their mind about a particular course of action, despite there being good reason to do so.

Objectivity will help you avoid becoming entrenched in one way of thinking, allowing you to make clear decisions based on the information you have. Without objectivity you can’t sustain good decision making over time; crucial for any business to succeed in the long term.

You will exercise and sharpen this ability when writing and delivering a speech. A speech is, by its nature, designed to be heard by others. To write and deliver a speech effectively you have to view your thoughts from a variety of perspectives.

This is what ensures that your message or argument is heard correctly, and has the greatest effect. Furthermore, the act of writing exercises objectivity, because when you write your thoughts down it forces the creation of a narrative, prompting you to view them in a more systematic way.

3. Communication

Much success in business comes down to networking and connecting with others, and to do this you have to communicate effectively and efficiently. When coming to decisions and conclusion on others, people pick up more from a person’s body language and how they are speaking, than the actual words they used.

To communicate effectively you have to be aware of these things, and tailor them to suit the purpose of your message. Effective communication, whether it’s a daily interaction with a customer, or an important meeting or presentation with a potential client, is essential to a business’s success.

Delivering speeches will sharpen this skill for you. It requires no special training or knowledge to become and expert communicator. Simply by delivering speeches, time after time, you will become more aware of each particular nuance of communication.

Before long, and without much conscious thought, you will be controlling your posture, along with the rate and pitch of your speech to suit the purpose of your message.

4. Empathy

To be a great leader, or to understand your costumers, you must have empathy. People don’t tend to make decisions or be persuaded by facts and figures alone.

People make decisions not on what think, but on how they feel. If you want to understand your costumers or manage a team effectively, you have to be able to empathise with them both intellectually and emotionally.

This is how you meet the needs of other; by putting yourself in their shoes so that you can first understand those needs. It’s through empathy that you create a great product or service, and become a great manager or leader.

You will exercise this ability when writing and delivering speeches. A great speech doesn’t speak to the head, it speaks to the heart. To do this you have to connect with your audience on an emotional level. As you attempt to do this you will be exercising and developing your ability to empathise with others.

5. Confidence

You can be well versed in all the abilities listed above, but if you don’t put them together with some confidence, you won’t succeed in the long term. If people don’t see confidence from you they won’t have confidence in you, or in what you are offering.

However, when you have a little confidence in yourself, it is remarkable how quickly things can progress. In business confidence can be the deciding factor in any interaction. It is crucial.

Confidence, just like everything else listed above, can be shaped and strengthened through simple action. Public speaking will help you do this.

Few people can get up in front of a room of people for the first time and speak confidently. For most, they are apprehensive and nervous throughout the entire experience. However, the next time the situation will be a little more familiar, instilling in you a small amount of confidence. Keep it up and, like a snowball, your confidence will grow and grow.

The businesses that succeed past the first five years, do so not because of any one action or piece of advice. They succeed because the people behind them, continually develop and strengthen their abilities and apply them to their daily actions.

You can find much advice on starting a new business, but if you don’t exercise and strengthen the prerequisite abilities in yourself, you may not get far.

The good news is there is nothing that can’t be taught and perfected in anyone, all that is required is action. To develop any of these abilities you simply have to use them. Public speaking is an activity that can help you do this, sharpening a variety of universal skills that will benefit you not just in business, but also in general life.

About the author

This article has been written for ByteStart by Aaron Hanway is from Toastmasters International. He lives in Gorey, Co. Wexford in Ireland, and attends the local Gorey Toastmasters club. Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Find your local club at

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