Technological creep and advancement is pushing society towards a world of automation and convenience. Our days as hunters and gathers are long behind us, replaced with today’s proverbial rat race where society’s entrepreneurial pursuits and necessity to succeed have become top priorities for us.
While we no longer face the difficulties of having to hunt for or gather our food, many now have to battle technological complexities. Those complexities have nothing to do with the consumption of content on the web, and everything to do with the creation and marketing of it. With so much competition in the world, it’s difficult to rise above the fray.
Yet, if you’re serious about succeeding in life, climbing the corporate ladder or launching that hot new startup, you’ll need some foundational skills that are virtually a prerequisite nowadays. For those who accumulate the right skills, the world truly is their oyster.
For those who hide from and ignore the digital tidal wave that’s sweeping the world, they can’t expect to make monumental progress and get ahead.
There are dozens of great skills you can learn online to further your career or business prospects. Some tend to rise above the others and should probably move to the top of your list. Whether or not you’re technically inclined, so to speak, these skills will provide you with the insights to propel yourself forward, get a better job or promotion, or simply increase your income by providing invaluable services online.
1. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO provides the very bedrock and foundation for skyrocketing your sales in any industry or niche. People are far more likely to purchase from you if you appear relevant in an online search versus paying to drive the traffic there.
Clearly, by understanding and harnessing the power of SEO, you can send near-limitless traffic to your site and put your selling on autopilot. SEO is highly complex and convoluted, but if you master any of the skills you can learn online today, it should most certainly be this one.
2. Web development
As technology improves across the world – and more and more devices begin to connect to the internet – the necessity for people to understand web development is going to increase. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to simple web design and development, learning and harnessing this powerful online skill can give you an enormous advantage in the world.
Great web developers are hard to come by. However, if you’re committed to becoming a web developer, you’ve got quite the uphill climb – but that’s also the case in any other notable field.
Just remember, this single skill can give you a tremendous advantage when it comes to building and launching an online business.
3. Online marketing
This isn’t just about SEO. This is about the fundamental principles that are driving traffic through mediums like social media and ads. Learn the mechanics of online marketing, and you’ll be able to drive considerable traffic and scale out whatever business you decide to create.
This will also help you make money online through either passive income or active income activities. There’s a lot of multidisciplinary content to consume and understand here, but it’s definitely well worth it.
4. Email marketing
Email marketing is alive and well. In fact, it’s one of the surest ways to make considerable amounts of money on the internet today. If you master the skill of email marketing, and learn how to build an effective sales funnel, you can virtually skyrocket your sales and income.
This isn’t just about writing compelling sales letters; it’s also about understanding what types of emails get clicked on and lead to active interests and purchases. Email marketing is a skill that can easily be learned online, but it’s also something that will require a significant amount of practice on your end to get it right.
5. Graphic design
Today, aesthetics are an important part of business and sales. Not only do you have to focus on functionality, you also have to focus on the overall design. By learning the highly important skill of graphic design, you’ll understand the fundamentals that make things attractive, clickable and thus, more saleable.
Learning graphic design involves mastering programmes like Photoshop, Illustrator and other popular tools that will allow you to create stunning visual designs. These programmes are an important part of the process in truly absorbing fundamental graphic design skills. It will take some significant practice, but it will be well worth it in the end.
Some of the world’s leading professionals are also the best copywriters. If you can write compelling copy that sells people on whatever it is you’re peddling, you’ll be far more likely to make the sale. Imagine being able to persuade droves of customers to purchase just about anything from you.
The skill of copywriting is definitely one that takes time to acquire, but it’s also one of the best skills you could learn. Use sites like Udemy and Lynda to sign up for an online course where you can learn the fundamentals involved in this highly lucrative skill.
Photography is filled with a variety of nuances and skills that evade most people interested in this field. Not only do you have to understand the art of photography itself, but also everything there is to know about cameras, lenses, contextual settings and how to enhance the imagery itself using photo editing software.
You can use your photography skill set to not only make money by actively assisting others with event or portrait photography, but also by creating stock imagery that you can sell on a variety of popular websites such as Shutterstock and iStockPhoto. Find a good course to learn this skill, and be prepared to buy a good camera and practice taking as many photos as possible.
8. Translating and languages
Understanding and learning foreign languages is an incredible skill to have and one that you can use in a variety of situations. Not only is this great to have when traveling, but it’s also a useful when working to translate and convey documents from one language to another.
You can also use your knowledge of a second language to help tutor people online via Skype or FaceTime – maybe even making a little side income. It’s not difficult to pick up this skill online. Whether you take a course or download a programme through Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur’s audiobooks, for example, learning foreign languages is an advantageous skill to have no matter what the situation.
9. Statistical data analysis
Another great skill to learn online is statistical data analysis. We all know that, in order to achieve our goals, we need to get very good at analysing data. Statistical analysis and regression analysis are two ways we can help to identify relationships between variables that can then be adjusted and refined in order for us to achieve our goals.
Statistical data analysis is a great skill to have in a variety of situations. We can use it to analyse website traffic and to better gauge if our marketing efforts are paying off. It can be used in a number of other situations as well, and the more knowledgeable you are in this skill, the better you can be at just about any endeavour.
10. Psychology and human behaviour
I’ve had a mild fascination with psychology and human behaviour as long as I can remember. That curiosity has been a cornerstone in my understanding of why people do what they do and how best to leverage that information in business and in sales. This skill could benefit just about anyone out there, no matter what line of work they’re in.
This goes all the way into contract negotiations, settlement talks, buying habits and a number of other arenas. What colours do people best respond to, or where should you sit at a table during negotiation talks or meetings, or how can you understand if a person is lying by the way they hold their head or what direction they look? This single skill could offer you tremendous advantages in life and in business.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Forever Learning, Discovering And Empowering
From work-life balance to finding the right support, Constance Kawelenga CA(SA), director and owner of Zuva Financial Services, shares her top tips on how to manage a successful business as a sole proprietor.
“Every business has its own slice of the market; one just needs to define their service offerings and target market.”
“When I established Zuva Financial Services, it was under the ‘illusion’ of a work-life balance. I say ‘illusion’, because when you work for yourself, you put in just as many hours, if not more, than when you work for someone else.
“I also wanted the flexibility to be able to shape my working space around my own lifestyle and family, and not to have to account to anyone else. The rigorous training to become a chartered accountant taught me to be highly disciplined. That means when I work for my own business, I am just as tough on myself, if not tougher, than any boss would have been in a different setting. The plus for me is that I am able to be there for my family when I need to be, and compensate for this in a way that best suits my lifestyle.”
Being your own boss has its pros and cons. However, for Constance, it is all worthwhile. Setting targets for her business every year and achieving those targets is deeply satisfying. Again, this is something she attributes to her training — she values client success and feedback.
“Whenever I get affirmation from clients regarding the value that we are adding to their business, and they refer other clients to us, I celebrate those achievements. The growth of Zuva Financial Services’ has resulted mostly from referrals or word of mouth and that, to me, is a testimony to the value that our clients place on our services.”
Related: The Power Of Finding Your Why
Overcoming a lack of internal support
The hardest thing about being the owner of Zuva Financial Services for Constance is the lack of an internal support structure. However, Constance has developed a network of technical specialists that she can call upon to consult. She agrees that technical support remains the toughest challenge of being a sole practitioner.
“We offer a mixed bag of services such as accounting, taxation, secretarial, payroll and even Black Economic Empowerment consulting. Additionally, I have audit clients — some in industries with specific reporting requirements such as estate agents and attorneys working with trusts. On a smaller scale, the breadth of services is almost the same as those offered by bigger firms. The difference is that I don’t have the internal resources such as a technical department.
Prior to establishing Zuva Financial Services, Constance spent six years in audit, mostly in Zimbabwe, but also in Botswana and South Africa. Since then, she has also been exposed to other financial roles, where she fulfilled financial management roles for different organisations such BMW Financial Services.
Constance advises those aspiring to follow in her footsteps and open their own companies not to overthink it, or doubt themselves.
Don’t overthink it
”It took me such a long time to take my first step because I could not believe that I would be able to build up a client base. Today, there are times when I am overwhelmed by the workload on my plate. It reminds me of my mother-in-law’s advice when I started my business. She told me that every business has its own slice of the market; one just needs to define their service offerings and target market.”
Constance describes herself as “forever learning, discovering and empowering.” She adds: “We each have a unique walk in life — ours is to boldly step out and embrace it”.
TuksNovation – Accelerated Innovation With The University of Pretoria
The University of Pretoria’s high-tech business incubator will be launched on the 6th of August by Minister Zulu, Department of Small Business Development at UP – Hatfield Campus, to alleviate the serious challenges related to unemployment South Africa is faced with.
According to Trading Economics (2017), the youth unemployment rate in SA is extremely high at 55,9%. The University of Pretoria is aware of this challenge and has embarked on launching a high-tech business incubator and accelerator.
This business technology incubator, known as TuksNovation, will promote job creation by providing support for the commercialisation of technology, networking, mentoring and sustainable spin-off technology companies.
Fuelling the economy
In a knowledge-driven economy, universities play a major role in regional socio-economic development. Innovations arising from a university’s intellectual capital can stimulate economies through new product development. Universities are therefore highly valued in terms of economic potential.
Although the creation of spin-offs is one of the key mechanisms that universities can leverage to promote socio-economic development, few universities in South Africa have done so, and the impact has been very modest. This low success rate can be attributed to the absence of an entrepreneurial culture, limited access to funding, as well as technology transfer offices at universities that lack critical skills and capacity.
The elements of success
TuksNovation is based on the triple helix model of Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff (1995). According to the University of Stanford Human Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute (H-STAR) (2011), the triple helix concept comprises three basic elements:
- It allows universities to play a more prominent role in innovation, on par with industry and government in a knowledge based society.
- There is a movement towards collaborative relationships among the three major institutional spheres, in which innovation policy is increasingly an outcome of interaction, rather than a prescription of government.
- In addition to fulfilling their traditional functions, each institutional sphere also performs 34 new roles. Institutions that are currently taking on non-traditional roles are viewed as a major potential source of innovation.
Over the long-term, the business incubator aims to enable the development of industrial clusters with a positive economic impact in Tshwane. It is set up in partnership with the Department of Small Business Development’s Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA).
How it works
TuksNovation aims to build strong networks among academia, government and industry to create new spin-offs that can benefit society. According to Prof Elma van der Lingen, Chairperson of the Graduate School of Technology Management (GSTM) at the University of Pretoria, the TuksNovation model is based on allocating seed funding to students who are keen to become entrepreneurs and are conducting research on projects that have the potential to develop commercially viable technology.
“Annual TuksNovation competitions will be held on campus and interested students will be able to participate in order to qualify for TuksNovation seed funding to develop their ideas into commercial products,” she says.
The competitions will have strict guidelines and will be evaluated by a committee comprising mainly representatives from industry and technopreneurs. The technology development phase of the projects will be conducted in a virtual incubator in the University’s laboratories and at facilities at local industries.
The students will receive expert technical guidance from academics at the University, as well as technological entrepreneurship training. Various in-kind contributions will also flow from building strong industry networks.
Some benefits from this relationship could include:
- The use of industry facilities
- Research on industry-related problems
- Employment for students and mentorship.
Funding for the business phase of the projects is secured from external funders, such as venture capitalists, investors, and corporations.
Students with commercially viable technology will make pitches and submit business plans to potential investors in order to secure funding. SEDA covers the incubator’s initial operational costs. TuksNovation will initially support the development of spin-offs in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, but will expand to other faculties involved in science and technology at UP, depending on the availability of funding.
Knowing The Basics Is Not Good Enough Anymore
Being able to confidently speak and write in English has never been so important. Using the right words in the right way can make a massive difference to any company.
Do you know the difference between “organize” and “organise”? Do you believe “device” and “devise” are the same thing? Do you think a comma and a semicolon could be used interchangeably? Why is “talk about” considered informal language? How does one create cohesion in your writing?
Few people in the business sector ask these questions; it could be because they do not focus on the language they use in business correspondence or, as second language speakers of English they do not know the answers. With many pupils in South Africa receiving basic education in their mother tongue, many enter the business sector not knowing the basic rules of how to articulate an idea coherently or cohesively. It is often when they are asked to compile a formal business report or prepare a presentation that few realise the importance of upskilling their English proficiency.
At the Wits Language School’s English Communication for Professional Development unit, that is the main focus: Enhancing participants’ English language skills for the business environment in an interactive manner. Whether you need to go back to the basics; learn how to write and edit emails, proposals, memos, minutes or reports; enhancing your speaking and pronunciation skills in order to deliver confident presentations; or practise your critical thinking skills when using English in your everyday life, there is the right course to fit your needs and help you climb that corporate ladder by focusing on what many regard as a “soft skill”.
Related: Tips To Becoming Fluent
Business English students can generally be classified into two sections: those who recognise the need to address their language skills, and those who believe they do not need any language training. The first group often walks into a class not knowing what to expect and leave with more confidence in their English spoken and written forms. The second group leaves the class understanding language structures better and rely more on grammar and writing rules than on what “sounds right”. Regardless of the group you might fall in, participants who successfully complete the courses gain knowledge, understanding, confidence, a higher aptitude in English and critical analysis of the language they are expected to converse in.
Take for example the following sentences – “I write reports”, “I am writing a report”, “I wrote a report”, “I have written a report”, “I have been writing a report” and “I had written a report”. Although all of these sentences are grammatically correct, they are very different in meaning and intention. “We could invest”, “We must invest”, “We might invest” and “We should invest” indicate different intensities and degrees, and “Please see attached” is better than writing “Kindly see attached”. One should avoid using a colon after a verb or preposition when you list things, and “U.S.A.” and “USA” refer to two different writing styles (one of which is preferable in South Africa).
Today, many companies are recognising the importance of English in the workplace as a way to create better internal and external communication, as well as creating uniformity in general forms of correspondence and business documents. While some companies offer their staff financial assistance in upskilling themselves, other companies opt to complete training as a group. With classes being presented in a communicative and fun way, English training has never before been made more accessible and exciting. Public classes run every Saturday over a 10-week period, while more customised corporate training takes place during the week at a time and place convenient for the client. Participants often comment that they start to analyse, question and edit their writing more critically and that their superiors at work see a marked change once they start a short course from Wits Language School.
Business Ideas Directory6 days ago
20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)
Business Advice for Women Entrepreneurs1 week ago
How I Run An International Business From A Remote Beach Town In The Eastern Cape
Entrepreneur Profiles2 weeks ago
30 Top Influential SA Business Leaders
Entrepreneur Profiles2 weeks ago
Kid Entrepreneurs Who Have Already Built Successful Businesses (And How You Can Too)
Entrepreneur Today6 days ago
Nedbank Brings Silicon Valley’s Plug And Play To Africa In Disruption First For The Continent
Women Entrepreneur Successes4 hours ago
Alphabet Soup Founder Nikki Lewin Discusses How They Compete With The Big Boys
Lessons Learnt2 weeks ago
6 Habits Long-Time Millionaires Rely On To Stay Rich
Branding2 weeks ago
Move Your Brand Forward With Eye-Catching Vehicle Wraps