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10 business management skills needed for success 

Building blocks to signify building skills

This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
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Kathryn Uhles

Kathryn Uhles, MIS, MSP, Dean, College of Business and IT

To succeed as a manager, no matter which industry you’re in, it’s important to develop business management skills. This knowledge can empower you to lead and motivate teams, direct projects, manage budgets and resources, and ensure that your organization runs efficiently and effectively.

But what are those skills, how can you build them and when should you start? Understanding this, whether you’re pursuing a business management career or another professional path, can be as helpful as technical knowledge in your area of expertise.

Even better is the fact that you can start cultivating many of these business manager skills whenever you want. School, work and mentorship all offer opportunities to hone and develop the skills that make managers effective. You may even notice professional growth and opportunities to offer value and improved productivity to your company along the way. 

Become a leader in the workplace. Explore the Bachelor of Science in Management degree at University of Phoenix.

10 business management skills

Often called “soft skills” in business management, many abilities that help you become an effective business manager aren’t always taught in training programs or on the job. Yet they’re essential in many industries. Managing employees, making short- and long-term business decisions and plans, and sharing information with external and internal audiences all require these kinds of skills. 

Here are several skills that are useful for business management.

1. Communication

Communicating clearly, concisely and effectively is one of the most critical business management skills. You’ll need to be able to share your vision and goals with your team, set timelines, provide feedback, give presentations and write reports.

In addition, effective communication skills lay the foundation for building relationships, whether that’s finding things in common with potential business partners or working to resolve conflicts between employees. Some roles also require communication skills to persuade and inspire people, such as discussing progress with clients and communicating with customers to buy your products and services.

2. Leadership

Leadership is another skill needed for business management, especially for top executives and senior managers. Those in leadership roles need to inspire and motivate their teams to achieve company goals. Good business leaders can build relationships, delegate tasks, provide mentorship, foster collaboration and make difficult decisions.

They can also use leadership in a variety of circumstances — not just when managing employees. For example, leadership skills can be essential when:

  • Building a company culture and strategic vision
  • Developing and launching new products
  • Creating coaching and growth plans for teams

Leadership skills can be learned through experience, education or training. Earning a business degree or General Management Certificate can help you develop the theoretical foundation to understand different leadership styles and how to put them into practice.

One of the best ways to hone leadership skills is through on-the-job experience. As you take on more responsibility within your organization, you’ll have opportunities to try different leadership techniques and learn what works best for you and your team.

3. Problem-solving

Business involves challenges and obstacles. That’s why problem-solving skills are critical. The ability to identify problems, brainstorm solutions and make decisions that positively impact your company’s bottom line is indispensable.

Problem-solving skills can be used in all facets of a business, including:

  • To assist in solving budgeting issues
  • To solve production issues that impact efficiency; this could mean creating a coaching plan for employees performing below standard or creating new processes for everyone to follow
  • To solve customer complaints that affect satisfaction levels and overall reputation

Not every situation is black and white, so you’ll need to be comfortable with ambiguity and making decisions in the face of uncertainty. Creative thinking, critical analysis and sound judgment are key components of problem-solving.

4. Decision-making 

The importance of decision-making in management cannot be understated — it’s among the core business management skills. Each decision ladders up to a specific goal, so it’s necessary to be clear about that goal before moving forward.

For example:

  • If the goal is to increase profits, a manager might decide to cut costs by reducing headcount or changing suppliers.
  • If the goal is to improve customer satisfaction, a manager might decide to increase spending on customer service or invest in new product development.
  • If an employee isn’t meeting performance expectations, a manager might decide to provide coaching or assign new projects.

Of course, not all decisions are obvious. Managers often face decisions that carry a negative consequence no matter how they decide. It’s critical to consider the risks involved, maintain big-picture vision and make decisions that ultimately move your business forward.

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5. Strategic thinking and planning

Strategic thinking is the ability to think long term and plan for your business’s future, taking into account trends while considering the present situation.

This skill involves setting goals, analyzing the competition and making decisions to achieve your desired outcome. It’s also essential to be able to adapt your strategy as the business landscape changes and new opportunities or threats arise.

For example:

  • A business owner might set a goal to grow their company by 10% over the next year. To achieve this, they would need to analyze their current situation, understand their competition and make strategic decisions about marketing, product development and other areas.
  • A manager might also need to be strategic when it comes to adapting their business model to a changing marketplace, such as challenging economic conditions or an evolution in customer preferences or expectations.
  • Business managers may need to be strategic about which technologies, equipment and other resources make the most sense to invest in for present and future needs.

6. Negotiation skills

Negotiation skills are critical for managers who want the best possible deals for their company. Negotiating effectively can lead to cost savings, improved terms and conditions and more favorable contracts.

For example, a business manager might need to negotiate with:

  • Suppliers to get better prices for raw materials
  • A landlord for lower rent or a longer lease
  • Contract workers on the terms of their employment

To be a successful negotiator, you need to think on your feet, understand the other party’s motivation and stand firm on what you want. But most importantly, you need to find common ground and reach an agreement that benefits both parties.

7. Conflict management

When conflicts arise, it’s crucial to defuse the situation, communicate effectively and find a resolution everyone can agree with. This can help prevent damage to relationships that can impact productivity and revenue.

Conflict management can be used in a variety of circumstances, including:

  • Mediating a conflict between employees
  • Resolving a dispute with a vendor
  • Helping an unhappy customer find remediation

Conflict management skills can help you in a variety of roles and situations both professionally and personally.

8. Public speaking 

Public speaking is an essential skill for workplace success as it allows managers to communicate effectively with their team, clients and stakeholders. Moreover, strong public speaking skills can help build confidence and credibility. They can also be helpful when giving presentations or pitching ideas to potential investors.

Public speaking includes skills such as effective communication, message delivery and audience engagement. To be a successful public speaker, you must capture and hold your audience’s attention while clearly delivering your message. As a manager, you’ll use this skill in a variety of circumstances, including possibly delivering a keynote speech at an industry conference or leading everyday meetings.

If you want to improve your public speaking skills, there are bachelor’s degree in business programs that offer communication courses. You might also consider joining a public speaking club.

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9. Financial literacy

One of the more technical skills in business management, financial literacy refers to understanding and using financial concepts to make sound decisions. This skill is vital for business managers as it can help inform decisions about budgeting, investing and other financial matters. A manager may need financial literacy in the following circumstances:

  • To develop a budget for their department
  • To make decisions about pricing and investments
  • To understand and interpret financial statements

If you want to improve your financial literacy, consider pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Management or financial management courses.

10. Time management

Time management refers to knowing how to plan, organize and prioritize your time to achieve specific goals. This skill is necessary for managers as it helps improve productivity and prevent burnout — not just for themselves but for their employees as well. By learning to manage time efficiently, you can set realistic goals and deadlines, create schedules and routines to meet company needs and goals, and avoid procrastination.

Keeping your work area organized, breaking down tasks into smaller goals, using a daily planner and taking advantage of project management platforms are great ways to start managing your time more effectively. Time management apps are available to help you stay on track.

How to improve business management skills

These business management skills can lay a foundation for good professional habits and support career success, whether you’re looking to start a business or climb the corporate ladder. Knowing how to improve business management skills even without much business experience can help you stand out in the job market. There are several ways to do so:

  • Get a professional mentor and observe how they integrate these skills into their work
  • Ask a mentor or co-worker for feedback on your business management skills and what you could improve
  • Consider online courses to develop and hone specific business management skills
  • Earn a business degree that includes management skills

The courses chosen will affect how long it takes to get a business management degree. Here at University of Phoenix, we have several options available to meet your needs.

Earn a business degree from University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix offers several online and flexible certificate and degree programs that prepare students with skills for a variety of career paths. Whether you’re looking to build the fundamentals or enhance your existing business manager skills, there are plenty of courses and programs to explore at UOPX.

  • General Management Certificate (Undergraduate) — In this program, students learn how to coordinate business operations across accounting, operations, marketing and sales, human resources and other key departments.
  • Certificate in Leadership and Management — This program is designed to prepare graduates with the knowledge, skills and values necessary to effectively lead others within a variety of organizational settings and situations. The program includes content related to organizational leadership, business strategy development, decision-making, change management, effective communication, performance improvement and entrepreneurship.
  • Associate of Arts with a concentration in Business Fundamentals — From management to accounting, the skills learned in this program are essential for anyone looking to advance in their business education. 
  • Bachelor of Science in Business — Knowledge of the ins and outs of running a business can spell the difference between success and failure in a competitive business world. 
  • Bachelor of Science in Management — Learn what it takes to improve and optimize organizational effectiveness and productivity in a dynamic and evolving workplace. Develop and apply career-relevant skills in a practical way with coursework in leadership, operations and logistics, project management and strategic management.
  • Bachelor of Science in Communication — It’s one thing to have a great idea, it’s another to properly communicate that idea to a large audience. Learn more about how to get your message across clearly and concisely.
  • Master of Business Administration — Advance your business skills beyond the fundamentals, and prepare yourself for higher leadership roles in an organization. This degree program can prepare graduates for careers as business managers, operations directors and more.
  • Master of Management — Take your understanding of business organization and management to an advanced level. This degree program is perfect for those with experience in the workforce who are looking to take on greater leadership roles. 
  • Doctor of Business Administration — Expand your understanding of organizations, work environments and industry. This program invites participants to delve into cutting-edge research in the field of business and develop skills for solving complex organizational problems. 
Author Michael Feder


Michael Feder is a content marketing specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program and a New Jersey native!


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