The number one skill you need for online business is actually unique in comparison to say a – job or conventional business. The skills you need for a job are very much dependant on the role. A project manager needs to score high on organisation. Whereas customer service operative needs to score high on communication.

In the other category, a conventional business owner needs to score high on a range of skills. Often they’ll need to be well rounded and include skills that someone in a job typically doesn’t need. For example persistence, resilience and vision.

It’s safe to say an online business owner needs similar skills to a conventional business owner with a few additions.

Specifically for the nature of today’s post, I want to talk about the number one skill you need for online business.

Number one skill

If you asked me what my favourite movie was I wouldn’t be able to name just one. Realistically I’d give you my top 10. And if you pressed me hard enough I could whittle it down to a top 5.

Skills are similar. No matter what my blog title says or what a leadership book title tells you. There’s no one-stand-out skill that you need to have as an online business owner.

Instead, think of yourself more like an entrepreneur who’s got a wide range of skills.

So imagine your skill chart looking something like this:

Number one skill you need for Online Business
Think of yourself as a pokemon rather than a one-trick pony. Credit:

However, like a pokemon or an online business owner, they’ll be certain skills in your top 5 that matter more than others.

Online Business requires testing

Unlike a conventional business where things move very slowly. Often they have to because making changes to a physical operation is no small decision. There’s resource, finances and cultural change to think about.

An online business can operate at warp speed. What typically happens during that warp speed travel is – testing!

Number one skill you need for Online Business
Buckle up things are about to get uncomfortable.

Being able to test is a skill you’ll want to score high on if you’re going to succeed in online business.

I’m not talking about going back to school taking an exam and getting a grade. I’m talking about real-life testing. The type which determines whether your business is a success or failure.

On the surface, it sounds cool and easily done. But in practice, it’s uncomfortable if you’re not ready for what’s to come.

To help describe what I mean let’s first look at what testing is (in its simplest form without pretending like I’m a scientist) and then why it’s easier said than done.

Testing is the number one skill

Think of testing as – discovering if something will improve results if you make a change. (It’s for beyond this post by try if you can to make only one change at a time).

A classic example in the world of online marketing is changing a headline on a webpage/landing page.

The reason we’d want to change the headline on the landing page is to see if more people stay on the page rather than immediately leave.

That’s a nice simple example.

A more complex example would be to test if changing the price of your product will improve sales.

Those are both examples of tests that can be done over a short period of time. One that would take longer to implement and see the results of is, changing your customer service interface from phone lines to a chat bot on your website.

So now we understand the principle of testing lets look at why it can get uncomfortable.

Getting uncomfortable

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” – Stephen King

One of the most difficult challenges we face as people is killing our ideas. And like Stephen King says, as difficult as it is and as painful as it is for our ego’s we must kill them.

It’s the reason we test but in the same breath, it’s the reason testing in practice is difficult. Especially in a team environment. As soon as your online business starts to grow and you begin to take on hires the pressure mounts.

To help explain what I mean, imagine the last time you had an absolutely amazing idea. So amazing in fact you were convinced that it will change everything. Transform your business.

You were so excited you told everyone about it. You had doubters and critics but you championed your idea like a true trooper.

Until someone said – ‘Great let’s put it to the test‘.

Suddenly everything becomes real. You and your team are going to have to commit time and money to test this idea.

You say to yourself, it doesn’t even need to be tested. This is a sure win.

But regardless you agree to put your idea to the test.

(Time ticks by)

After de-prioritising everything else in the business. Committing your teams time and money (I’ve repeated this because they won’t let you forget it). The test proves your idea was whack. A complete failure. In fact, it was so poor you lost sales because of it.

At this point a few things typically happen:

  • You don’t put forward ideas anymore in the fear they won’t work.
  • When you have an idea no one trusts it to work so it’s ignored.

Thankfully you’ll be relieved or surprised to know that both of these outcomes are the worse thing to happen.

Testing is a skill to develop

The scenario which I described in the previous section where we put an idea to the test is exactly what we want to do. However, it requires a personal and collective mindset shift as to how ideas within your online business are treated.

In simple terms, testing is a good thing as the outcome is the business has learned something new.

Be excited about putting your idea into the real world. Likewise, be just as excited to see what happens. If it was a success great! If it wasn’t great!

A handy tip as an individual or team is to understand the parameters as to what ideas get put into testing. For example, we will only test ideas that directly relate to revenue generation. And if they cost less than £1,000 to implement. And require no more than 1 week to end-to-end. The aim here is not to stop ideas from flowing so be sure to capture every idea. The aim is to test ideas that are relevant to what stage you are in your business development.

Luckily for you, an online business makes testing extremely easy as you can implement tests fast, cheaply and get real data to let you know if it’s a good idea or not. Interestingly Netflix co-founders are famous for being so good at testing that they’d run a test first thing in the morning, analyse the results that night and determine it a success or failure. All within 24 hours.

Imagine how 20+ tests a month would transform your business.

That’s the mindset shift required to develop the number one skill you need for online business.

And remember either test outcome is a win as you’ve learned something new.

So the message here is to develop the skill to test. And as Stephen King says kill your darlings (with testing).




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