6 Must-Have Skills As A Small Business Owner


I am Jess! Ottawa brand strategist and website designer helping ambitious service-based businesses grow with confidence through meaningful design. I'm the type of gal that use one too many exclamation mark in my emails and can only have one cup of coffee a day. Weird, I know. If you ever want to chat any thing biz, branding, or well - life, feel free to reach out!










Sick of living in a cubicle from 9-5?
Tired of working for someone else?
Looking to turn your side-hustle into a full-time gig?
Wondering what life is like working for yourself?
Want to be an entrepreneur?

Girl, I feel you.

With the unpredictable business landscape, an increase in unemployment, and our generation chasing after what they want, I can attest that entrepreneurship is on the rise. But the hard question you must be wondering: is it for you?

Personally, I believe that an entrepreneur is made, not born. You must first also know your “WHY”. Your why will be your inspiration, your bigger purpose, and your drive. Without that, your idea will slowly fall apart over time and your patience will run thin. However, if your why is burning brighter than ever, and if you are willing to put the heart, soul, tears, blood, and time consistently, your success will be astounding.

With that said, there are still basic soft skills an aspiring entrepreneur needs to master first before considering ditching the 9-5.


In my opinion, empathy is the strongest sales skill as a business owner because it is all about understanding someone from their perspective. Empathy is the bridge between “me” and “you” — and when we are able to master empathy, we can create a better connection with our clients.

Sales have evolved from selling someone on something (just because) to understanding what someone’s needs are and finding ways for your business to meet them. This part will require time and practice to master, but you have got to be comfortable with two things: speaking with confidence and rejection. Not everyone will jump at the chance of wanting to purchase your goods or services, and it also doesn’t reflect any bad on you or your business. It might just not be the right fit or right time.

The best sales(wo)men are the ones giving you the opportunity to be part of something great, so incorporate that into your sales pitch. Listen first, then talk.

Empathy is the force that moves us forward to better business owners and better humans.

Tip: Ask people about their ideas, thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Have a genuine conversation with them and in return, share yours with them. It’s all about listening actively and communicating openly. 


Commit to your vision, your goals, and your dream. Put actions behind your words and make sure you see it till the end. The easiest way to do that is by breaking every goal down into small, actionable, and measurable goals. Break them down by years, months, weeks, and days. Make them realistic. Make them achievable. Track them daily, evaluate them if necessary, and cross them off once they are done.

To succeed means that you have to invest time and effort – even doing things you may not enjoy. As an entrepreneur, that will happen a lot more than you would like but the most important thing is to keep chasing after that big dream of yours.

When you start to see your commitment to one goal or one domain, you will start to see that in everything else that you do. Keep at it and don’t give up. If you need a day to recharge, give your mind that break.

Tip: Write everything down! Keep a ‘GOAL-DIGGER’ journal and commit to writing in it every day as goals change and evolve quite frequently! Once it’s on paper, your brain will register them as reality.


An entrepreneur is more than a boss. You are, in fact, an employee, a boss, a visionary, an event planner, an administrative assistant, a salesman, a social media guru, a writer, and much much more. You essentially wear over a dozen hats and you have to be able to cope with all of that.

This means you have to dig deep and find out what is the best way for you to prioritize strategically before you burn out. There are times you will have to learn to say no to and you will have to stand by it. The reality is: you won’t be able to do it all; but you will be able to do well on those things that matter.

Tip: Don’t multitask. Learn to focus on doing one thing at a time.

Relationship Building

Make friends, not contacts.

Which one of us has gone to a networking event and handed out business cards like Halloween candy? I know I am guilty as charged! In today’s modern-day world, that’s not how clients are booked or referrals are made. In fact, it’s more about your professional relationship with them. They want to work with somebody that they can trust, rely on, and be comfortable with.

It’s important for an entrepreneur to understand how human nature works and how to properly interact and engage with other people – whether that be your clients, industry partners, or colleagues.

Building a relationship takes time and patience – but it’s well worth it in the end.

Tip: Before launching, reach out to your industry partners and schedule some genuine one-on-one’s and inquire questions about the industry and their entrepreneurial journey. Get to know who you will be working with one day and introduce yourself. Pick each others’ brains and help one another out over coffee or a glass of vino. It will be a great way to get your foot in the door before making the big jump.

Willingness to Learn

Be curious. If you have no willingness to learn, you may fail quicker than you think as a modern-day entrepreneur. When you stop learning, you stop growing.

Truth is, not every task can be outsourced – and you probably won’t have the finances to do so right off the start. Learn what you can – even the daunting task of basic accounting or SEO – and try your best. Invest time and effort into learning something new every week, whether that be watching a Youtube video, reading a “How-To” book, or listening to a podcast on your commute to work. Depending on what you are looking for, there are also hundreds of meet-ups and Facebook community groups you could join which offer many resources and toolkits. If you have some extra cash lying around, consider investing in a business coach or joining a mastermind group to advance your existing skills and build new ones.

Tip: Make three lists – (1) What I am good at, (2) What I am OK at, and (3) What I need to improve on. From there, make a commitment to rotate lists each week and focus on learning something new on one item from that list. If you find yourself at a point where you think you are an expert about a topic, help someone else out by mentoring them or blogging about your tips & tricks!


The marketplace is overly crowded and fairly saturated. The only way to stand out is … YOU.

YOU are the heart and soul of your business. It represents who you are and what you value. Clients want to do business with someone they can trust and relate to. Don’t spend so much time trying to fluff something up if you don’t believe in it. It will be detrimental to your business. Instead, be vulnerable and authentic. Show the world who you are and why you started this business. Be humble and proud of your achievements. Be honest and raw about your drawbacks. Be comfortable with who you are and what you are offering.

Tip: A fantastic way to do that is by being present. Video face-to-face has become a popular medium for small-medium-sized businesses to showcase who they are and what they represent. It might not be the easiest task to hop onto your social media accounts and start talking – but make a commitment to yourself to try little by little. If you are unsure of what to say or post, there are a lot of prompts out there to get you started.

Becoming an entrepreneur will be one of the most challenging endeavours anyone will embark upon. What do you think is an important must-have skill to have? Let me know below!



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