Seven Essential Business Skills for Rookies AND Vets

Are you just starting off, or been at it for years? Here are seven essentials.

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” Chinese proverb

I’ve been coaching full time since 1992, and have been asked what it takes to make it in business by people just starting out. So I’ve come up with what I consider are seven essentials. Although this is geared toward business rookies, if you have a business that is either floundering or hit a plateau a while ago, this applies to you. Five of these are for what I call the “Inner Game,” your mental preparation. Two are for the “Outer Game,” how you engage the marketplace.

First, the Inner Game:

    Mission Statement “Anything the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” Why did Napoleon Hill make this powerful statement early in his classic 1937 book Think and Grow Rich? Hill was the first author to introduce “the science of personal achievement” to the business world. He studied over 500 highly successful entrepreneurs in the early 1900’s (including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and John D. Rockefeller … these were no flash-in-the-pan characters!) and concluded that each had what he called a “success consciousness” — they literally thought their way to riches. In the book Hill suggests you create a “statement of definite chief aim or major purpose,” in essence, a Mission Statement. A Mission Statement is a paragraph that describes who you are and what you’re all about in your business, the mental conception of where you’ll be by what date. It has specific, measurable outcomes and a deadline for completion– for example, December 31st. 

    Affirmations Affirmations are positive statements, used in the present tense as if they’re already a fact, which you consciously repeat to yourself on a daily basis to redefine your personal belief system. Thus, you create new, positive self-fulfilling prophecies. Napoleon Hill insists you can develop belief in yourself through the use of “autosuggestion” — the daily repetition of powerful positive statements to program the mind for achieving desired outcomes: “Repetition of affirmation of orders to your subconscious mind is the only known method of voluntary development of the emotion of faith.” Thus he was an early advocate of daily affirmations.

    Goal Setting You must base your goals upon your Mission Statement. If you’ve created a goal-based Mission Statement, you’ll now have “big” goals to achieve by one year from today. From there, you’ll need to break them down into quarterly, monthly and even weekly goals. Stephen Covey has a great quote in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: ”If you don’t set your goals based upon your Mission Statement, you may be climbing ‘the ladder of success’ only to realize, when you get to the top, you’re on the WRONG BUILDING.” Amen! You must commit your goals to writing because if you don’t, you’re just daydreaming. Your goals must be optimistically realistic. And you must find a way to quantify your goals, with a deadline. 

    Time Management Manage your time based upon your goals. I share with my clients a technique I call “The most important appointment of the week.” It happens on the weekend, and it’s with YOU. So you can pick a Saturday or Sunday morning right after coffee or a workout, or perhaps Sunday evening just before the coming work week. Then get out your weekly planner and write in the exact time you will be engaging in the behaviors you’ll need to do based upon the goals you’ve set for yourself. You should view ALL the items you’ve written in your calendar as APPOINTMENTS, so you don’t get off track by the various inconsequential interruptions that happen throughout the course of a day. 

    Visualization Visualization is the ability to mentally rehearse successful outcomes in a relaxed state before they actually happen. All great athletes, from golfers to hoopsters to Olympians (including Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps), practice visualization as part of their training regimen as well as when competing. And this same technique can work for you in your business or career if you are willing to regularly picture your successes.

Now, the Outer Game:

    Networking Success in business is like football: It’s a contact sport. The best way to grow your business is through making contact with centers of influence in your own community. Great networkers take time to build relationships with owners of synergistic businesses. For example, I encourage my financial advisor clients to meet with CPA’s, estate planning attorneys, realtors, mortgage brokers and insurance agents — all professionals who handle large financial transactions for their clients. Networking takes patience, energy and a “give first “attitude to ultimately get referrals, but it sure beats the heck out of cold calling … unless you actually enjoy intruding on people.

    Professional Selling Skills Do you believe you have something great to offer people through your business? Then why would you want to ROB them of the opportunity to become your client? It’s not a capital crime, but there ought to be a law against someone who improperly engages a good prospective client without helping that person make a smart decision about moving forward with you. That means you’ll need to learn how to professionally sell your products and/or services. Assume that your prospects need your expertise to make the important choice to hire you. By improving your professional selling skills you’ll be able to help them decide to use you, which helps everybody involved.

I realize there’s a lot more to creating and maintaining a successful business, but the seven essential skills I’ve listed above will make it highly likely yours will stand the test of time.

Success Skills Coach Jim Rohrbach, “The Personal Fitness Trainer for Your Business,” coaches Financial Advisors around the US by phone to help them grow their clientele. To set up a Free Consultation with Jim, go to

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