There are many reasons why an increasing number of people across America and beyond are choosing to make this the year they start their own business. It allows them to profit directly as a result of their own skills and hard work, rather than working for an employer, and they can fit their working schedule around family and other commitments. Modern technology and increasingly advanced and accessible software also make it easier than ever to start a business, but what skills does an entrepreneur need if he wants to achieve continued success, and how does he gain them? Here’s our handy guide with the answers you need.

1. Information Technology Skills

Increasingly advanced computers have transformed the ways our businesses operate, and what they sell. That’s why smart entrepreneurs know the latest software packages that can make running their business quicker and easier, and they know how important it is to keep on top of technological, computing and software innovations.

2. Social Media Skills

Advances in technology have led to the exponential growth of something that has revolutionized our century like nothing else: social media. Social media is not only a great place to swap amusing stories and memes, discuss the latest politics, and catch up with your favorite celebrities, it’s also a great place to market your business. Entrepreneurs with highly developed social media skills will know what to post, and the optimal time to post it across different social media platforms, from Facebook, to Twitter and Instagram. Used correctly, social media can also be a powerful marketing tool, providing an effective way to reach Millennial customers.

3. Finance and Accounting Skills

For your business to achieve sustainable growth, you’ll need to keep a close eye on its finances, and you’ll need to set accurate goals for it, and all that takes great financial skills. Allied to financial skills, and just as important, are accounting skills. When you’re trained in accountancy, you’ll be able to complete your own tax returns, and that can save you a substantial sum when compared to hiring your own accountant to do it for you. You’ll also be able to make financial predictions and create business plans that are realistic and achievable, and that can help you gain investment and backing from banks, online investors or other sources.

4. Leadership Skills

One of the biggest transformations that a growing business undergoes is when they recruit staff to fill positions previously done by the entrepreneur themselves. This means that you can now operate much more efficiently, produce more products or services, and spend more time selling and marketing them. Done well, therefore, recruitment should greatly increase your profits, but to get the most out of your workforce you’ll need effective leadership skills. This means that you’ll need to be able to motivate staff, recruit staff and oversee disciplinary procedures.

5. Business Intelligence Skills

One of the key things that separates a successful businessperson from an average one, is that they have well-honed business intelligence skills. That means that they can see potential opportunities before they occur and take decisive action, and they can do this because they are able to effectively analyze the data their business generates. Every business produces lots of useful information and data, and it can prove invaluable if you know how to read it. Business intelligence skills also help you produce reports that can be used to motivate your workers or increase efficiency and productivity.

How to Gain These Vital Skills

Not all of these skills will come naturally to all entrepreneurs, so just how do you gain them? The good news is that anyone can learn them, or improve skills they already possess, and the smartest way to learn them is to sign up to an accredited online MBA. Expert providers such as Suffolk University provide online courses that teach all these key elements and more, including business management, change management, global economics and strategic thinking. Because you can gain your Master of Business Administration degree online, you’ll be able to take as long as you like over it, and study at times and places that suit you. In short, you’ll be able to run your start up business and study for your MBA at the same time.

Gaining these powerful skills that are a core part of the MBA curriculum will make you a much better entrepreneur, and that means that you’ll have more confidence in your own ability to deal with employees, suppliers and potential customers. Confidence is key to business success, and when it comes in tandem with practical knowledge in these five key areas, you could gain an advantage over your business rivals.