The Importance of Developing Business Acumen

BY Julian Te |

With the job market growing more competitive, just having the right qualification for your ideal job is no longer enough. If you want to truly stand out, you need to develop business acumen.
Your business acumen is your general knowledge of how businesses and industries operate. It's an understanding of the principles that allow companies to function and generate revenue. It includes things like:

  • A 'big picture' understanding of how the company you are in operates, i.e., its business model, the market it's in, etc. 
  • Understanding the importance of each department within a company and how they're interconnected. 
  • A comprehensive working knowledge of the drivers of a business's profitability and cash flow
  • Awareness of the implications of risk
  • Decisiveness and quick judgment
  • Who your competitors are and knowledge of your market as a whole

In this post, we're going to explore a few key reasons why it's essential to develop your business acumen. 

You'll Have a Better Idea of Where You Want Your Career to Go

The higher your business acumen, the greater your understanding of your role, its function within an organisation, and ways in which this could be developed. In other words, you'll have a better idea of potential career paths and which of them you find most appealing. As a result, you'll be more self-directed and far more likely to make things happen than just letting them happen to you. To think of it another way, you'll be better able to answer questions like 'where do you see yourself in 5 years?'

You'll also better understand the opportunities that present themselves within your company. While other recent graduates will allow them to pass by, in blissful ignorance, or decide that they're not worth the effort – you'll be in a position to seize them. All in all, you're less likely to feel lost or restless and will find a greater sense of purpose in your work.

You'll Be Offered More Opportunities

A side effect of the above point - when you know where you want to go and are heading there, you're bound to earn a reputation for being self-driven. Your managers and colleagues are way more inclined to send opportunities your way, even if it's initially asking for a little help on a project because they're overwhelmed and up against a tight deadline. When you deliver in those types of situations, you'll be offered additional opportunities in the future. Better still, each situation helps to further develop your business acumen.

Suppose this happens, and you gain a reputation as a dependable, young employee. In that case, you'll have an advantage over your colleagues when it comes to being selected for exciting opportunities and/or promotions. Though others will ask for them, you'll be the one with the track record. 

You'll Be Better at Making Decisions

Because you'll have a better idea of the benefits and costs of your choices, you'll find it easier to make decisions – and, on average, are likely to make better ones. This isn't to say you won't ever find it challenging to make decisions, far from it, but you won't fall victim to 'analysis paralysis' as frequently as other team members.

A lack of decision-making ability is one of the most frequent bottlenecks faced by organisations, so you'll be highly valued if you possess this skill. However, making decisions is a skill that must be practised, like any other, so the more you do it, the sharper it'll become. 

You'll Find It Easier to Sell Your Ideas

One of the most frustrating things about just starting your career is feeling that you're not taken seriously and don't have a valid opinion due to your youth and inexperience. This can prove to be an obstacle if you have an idea or proposal for your company. However, it will be far easier to get your ideas across if you've developed your business acumen. 

Firstly, as discussed above, there's a good chance you'll be held in higher regard, so your managers are more likely to listen to you. Secondly, you'll be able to organise your ideas in a way that makes them more appealing to those in charge; in other words, you'll have a more persuasive 'pitch'. Many employees have good ideas, but their lack of acumen leaves them unable to package those ideas in the best way. In contrast, a higher business acumen enables you to speak in terms that will capture management's attention and anticipate their objections before they raise them.

You'll Be Less Afraid to Take Risks

The deeper your business acumen, the more competent you're going to be; the more competent you are, the more confident you'll feel. Your increased confidence will cause you to expose yourself to a greater range of opportunities and stepping outside your comfort zone more frequently than other graduates. Whether this is signing up for challenging courses for your professional development, putting yourself forward for a secondment within your company, or applying for a promotion, you're likely to take more risks. Now, some of these risks won't pan out – but some of them will – and that it's not the end of the world if things don't turn out as planned.

Would you like the chance to develop your business acumen in a real-world environment? Would you welcome the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills that will make you stand out against other graduates when you're applying for jobs? If so, take a look at our Professional Internship Program.

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