5 Things to Know Before Starting a Business in 2024

Focusing on these five critical areas, entrepreneurs can improve their chances of success.

Starting a business is exciting, terrifying, rewarding, challenging, and one thousand other emotions. No entrepreneur can know everything before starting their company. The real education for entrepreneurs begins once the business has been started; and once the entrepreneur experiences failure. Failure is, and always will be, the greatest teacher. However, there are specific skills and strategies that those looking to pursue entrepreneurship should learn before opening their business. Here are five critical areas of knowledge that business owners often overlook but are crucial for sustained success.

1. Financial Literacy

At the heart of any successful business is solid financial management. Entrepreneurs must understand not just how to generate money but also how to manage it. This includes budgeting, forecasting, navigating tax obligations, and understanding financial statements. Many small business owners enter their ventures passionate about their product or service but less informed about the financial requirements that can make or break a business. Developing financial literacy is critical to long-term success.

Financial Skills Needed:

  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Reading, writing, and interpreting financial statements
  • Cash flow management

2. Marketing: Connecting Products to People

Most business owners hear “marketing” and immediately think it’s synonymous with “advertising.” It’s not. Marketing your business can be defined simply as “how people connect with your business.” How they see it, when they see it, how they feel about it, when they’ll buy it, how you convince them to buy it, what problems it solves—all of this and so much more go into your marketing. If you want to have a synonym to associate with marketing, use “sales” instead of “advertising.” It’s a much closer comparison.

And as a business owner, you need to understand the basics of marketing—connecting your product to your people. There are many ways to do this, but from a new business owner’s perspective, the most important marketing skill you can develop is the ability to follow people’s attention. What are their interests, and where do their minds go? Where does their time go? Where are your customers interests, and how can you align your company with those interests?

Often times, businesses leverage social media on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Some may focus on writing articles with rich copywriting to achieve higher ranking on search engines (SEO). And other businesses may set up an entire film set to start filming grand YouTube videos. Maybe your business requires all of these methods. Maybe your business requires none of them. If you follow your customer’s interests and where they devote their time, you’ll be able to discover the best way to communicate with them. So, regardless of the marketing method, it’s best to primarily focus on the customer first, and then start to understand all the methods available to market.

Marketing Skills Needed:

  • Analyzing and understanding customers.
  • Basic understanding of social media.
  • Customer engagement

3. Strategic Planning and Adaptability

Strategic planning helps business owners set long-term goals and outline the steps needed to achieve them. However, equally important is the ability to adapt to changes—be they market trends, customer preferences, or unexpected challenges. Many entrepreneurs focus heavily on the operational aspects of their business, often at the expense of strategic foresight and flexibility. Developing a mindset that embraces change and is proactive rather than reactive can distinguish between thriving and merely surviving.

Strategy Skills Needed:

  • Goal-setting and strategic vision
  • Adaptability and crisis management
  • Analytical thinking for decision-making

4. Legal Know-How: Safeguarding Your Business

The legal landscape can be a minefield for the uninformed. There are basics, like registering your business and employment laws, which do change between counties and states. Every entrepreneur should learn exactly what the different types of businesses are, exactly what their tax obligations will be, and how to hire employees or contractors.

Then there are things like intellectual property rights and liability mitigation strategies to start looking into. Knowledge like this protects the business from potential lawsuits, compliance issues, and other legal hurdles. Small business owners don’t need to be legal experts, but they should know when to seek professional advice and how to comply with relevant laws and regulations.

Legal Skills Needed:

  • Basic understanding of business law and regulations
  • Intellectual property management
  • Employment law awareness

5. Excellence in Customer Service: The Outsourced Advantage

Customer service is arguably the most direct touchpoint between a business and its customers. Excellent service can lead to repeat business, referrals, and a strong brand reputation. However, managing customer service effectively while juggling other business responsibilities can be challenging. Outsourcing this function to a specialized company can offer several advantages, including access to expert service representatives, scalability, and the ability to focus on core business areas. Building a relationship with a trusted outside service provider ensures that customer inquiries are handled professionally, freeing up valuable resources to grow the business.

Skills Needed:

  • Communication and empathy
  • Problem-solving and conflict resolution
  • Strategic thinking for customer experience improvement

Addressing Common Questions Within These Points:

What do I need to know about owning a small business? Understanding the financial, marketing, strategic, legal, and customer service aspects is crucial. Each area contributes to the foundation and growth of your business.

What skills do you need to be a small business owner? Skills range from financial management and marketing to strategic planning, legal awareness, and customer service excellence. Adaptability, leadership, and a willingness to learn are also key.

What do small business owners need help with the most? Many find customer service challenging due to its direct impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Outsourcing this function can alleviate pressure on internal resources and ensure high-quality customer interactions.


Small business ownership is a rewarding but complex venture. By focusing on these five critical areas, entrepreneurs can significantly improve their chances of success. From mastering financial management to outsourcing customer service, each step involves learning and applying key skills that contribute to a thriving business. Recognizing where you need help and seeking out resources or partnerships can be a game-changer, allowing you to focus on what’s most important: making your business dreams a reality.

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