Business Ideas For Finance Professionals – For example, it is essential for business owners to ensure that all members of their organizations have skills such as critical thinking, time management, and effective communication, to ensure the smooth running of daily operations and the achievement of business goals.
Here’s an overview of why it’s important to improve your business skills and the top ten things you should prioritize to advance your career.
Business Ideas For Finance Professionals
Building a foundation in business not only helps build confidence in the workplace, but also opens the door to many career opportunities. For those who have expanded their knowledge in a Harvard Business School course, the experience has included:
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If you want to achieve similar goals in your career, here are ten business skills you should develop.
A basic knowledge of economics can be valuable in any field. In addition to a deep understanding of pricing strategy and market demand, the study of economics can provide a number of tools to make key decisions in your company.
For Nicholas Grecco, a former CORe participant who worked as a teacher and health care administrator, the lessons learned from Economics for Managers helped his organization invest in solar energy.
“I knew investing in solar was a good opportunity, but the concept of willingness to sell (WTS) helped me understand and explain why,” says Grecco. “Thanks to the city’s program and additional advantages of the group’s purchasing power, electrical contractors were ready to sell solar energy systems at a much lower price than usual, thereby increasing the surplus of our consumer. Through the explanation of WTS, it was possible I convince the owner to continue with this project.
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Research shows that a growing percentage of companies like Microsoft, Uber and Blue Apron are using analytics to drive growth and improve their services and operations.
According to LinkedIn, analytical thinking is one of the most sought-after hard skills in today’s job market. Knowing how to summarize data sets, spot trends, and test hypotheses can provide an analytical framework for approaching complex business problems and help you make informed decisions that benefit your company.
“Using data analytics is a very effective way to influence an organization,” says Ian Hammond, an HBS professor who teaches the business analytics course. “If you can go into a meeting and have other people’s opinions, but you have your arguments and data to support your recommendations, you are influential.”
Accounting know-how can be useful for a career, even if you’re not in a numbers-oriented role. While this may seem like an intimidating topic, it’s actually a lot easier than you think.
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Concepts like cash flow and profitability are useful in understanding your organization’s performance and potential, while knowing how to read and interpret a balance sheet is critical to delivering financial results.
Pankaj Prashant, an engineer who took the CORe program, said the principles he learned in financial accounting helped him strengthen his technical knowledge and advance his career.
“I follow my company’s annual reports and the accounting I learn helps me understand where the business is going in the future,” says Prashant. “I also followed several other companies for investment purposes and realized that with my improved knowledge of the company’s finances I could make more informed decisions.”
Whether you are just starting out on your professional journey or working at a senior level, it pays to be an effective negotiator. A report by the World Economic Forum identified negotiation as one of the top 10 people skills needed to thrive in the workforce of the future.
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Improving your negotiation skills will help you provide value not only to your organization at the sales table, but to yourself when pushing for a higher starting salary or promotion.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to developing a successful negotiation strategy. According to HBS professor Mike Wheeler, who teaches negotiation skills, the key is to be open to improvisation and plan to think on your feet.
“But even if you see yourself as a negotiator, most of the people you interact with will probably have a different style, at least to some degree,” says Wheeler. “So to be successful, you have to be agile. That means being flexible, so you can apply different skills depending on the situation and who you’re dealing with.
Strong management skills are integral to organizational performance. A Gallup study found that managers account for 70 percent of the difference in employee engagement, highlighting the need for companies to develop leaders who increase team effectiveness and morale.
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Knowing how to manage meetings and communicate organizational change is essential for both experienced and aspiring managers. It is also important to be aware of common mistakes that team leaders make.
In the case of Monica Higgins, Director of Public Relations, the Management Essentials course was a way to increase her management knowledge and develop a new perspective on her role.
“I’m more aware of looking at things through a bigger lens, from different perspectives,” says Higgins. “I’ve always been a fan of asking thoughtful questions, as opposed to declarative ones, and now I’m a big fan of playing devil’s advocate.”
Whether you hold a management position or not, leadership skills are critical to success in the workplace. Although some people think that leadership and management are one and the same, there are differences between the two. While management focuses on implementing processes, leadership focuses more on people and the vision that drives change.
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In addition to improving your management skills, developing your leadership skills can be beneficial in any career. From learning to stay calm under pressure to developing your own leadership style, these skills will help you understand how to bring your vision to life and position your team for success.
In any business environment, professionals rely on communication to coordinate actions and achieve organizational goals. Ineffective communication—or lack of communication at all—can be disastrous.
Along with developing your own skills, understanding and adapting to the communication styles of others will contribute greatly to success. Other key communication skills include active listening, empathy and reading body language.
Emotional intelligence is another important business skill, and research shows that it is a leading predictor of workplace performance. According to TalentSmart research, 90% of top performers have high levels of emotional intelligence.
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Emotional intelligence is generally divided into four concepts: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. In short, this skill refers to your ability to understand your own emotions and to recognize and influence the emotions of others.
Regardless of your field or position, knowing yourself and those around you will give you more control over your interactions and achieve your goals more effectively.
All professionals need strong decision-making skills to solve complex workplace problems. The need for such skills is even greater for those working in business or management.
Determining how to allocate resources, which employees make up the team and which new organizational initiative to implement are all decisions that require careful consideration. As the number of tools and resources that can be used to collect data increases, managers can infuse their processes with valuable insights to make data-driven decisions and achieve better results.
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Whether you’re looking for ideas or advice on a specific problem or preparing for a career change, the people who make up your professional network can be valuable resources.
To get the most out of your network, be open to opportunities to step out of your comfort zone and build new relationships. Once you’ve established your network, it’s important to maintain the relationships you’ve built and find new ways to expand your network of contacts.
If you are aiming to advance your career, the value of business skills cannot be overstated. As your organization grows, you will need soft skills (such as emotional intelligence and leadership) in addition to hard skills (such as understanding financial accounting and economics).
Regardless of your industry, knowing basic business concepts can help you better understand your organization’s operations and give you the tools you need to lead initiatives and make strategic decisions.
Business Skills Every Professional Needs
Want to take your career to the next level? Explore our core business courses. Download our free flow chart to choose the right course for you.
Matt Gavin is a member of the marketing team at Harvard Business School. Before returning to his home state of Massachusetts to join HBS, he lived in North Carolina, where he held roles in news and content marketing. He has a background in video production and previously worked on several documentaries for Boston’s PBS station WGBH. In her spare time she enjoys running, exploring New England and spending time with her family. Are you a (startup) founder looking for funding? You have come to the right place! Below you will find an overview of thirteen typical funding sources for entrepreneurs. Some are suitable for early-stage startups, while others are more suitable for fast-growing mature companies. Still, all options should give you a good amount of inspiration for your next funding round!
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