The three core skills every entrepreneur should master include:
- Bookkeeping and accounts
- Personal finance
- Business law
1.1 Take a course in Accounting
"Mention the word accounting, and otherwise competent business men and women suddenly grit their teeth, furrow their foreheads, and start uncontrollably pulling out chunks of their own hair. Why is this? How can a craft, which is nothing more than a tool to keep track of the inflow and outflow of cash, be thought of with such contempt and fear? The mystery becomes even more puzzling once you realize that ACCOUNTING is essentially the discipline of counting money. And since most people start a business to make money, it seems rather silly they shouldn't enjoy counting it".
—Peter J. Patsula, founder of Patsula Media and author (from his online publication The Entrepreneur's Guidebook Series, 2001-2007)
Accounting is the language of business. Being able to understand this language allows individuals both inside and outside of an organization to join the "conversation" about how the organization is performing and how it can improve future performance. Financial accounting focuses on the reports that managers generate to provide interested external parties a summary of the firm's financial position and operations. Managerial accounting focuses on the information and the analytical tools and techniques that help managers and employees make the right business decisions.
A good course in financial and managerial accounting fundamentals will teach you how to:
- Understand the financial statements that managers create, and be able to interpret and analyze these statements to assess the financial position of the organization.
- Identify and understand the nature, purpose, and importance of different types of decision-useful accounting information, and use analytical tools and techniques to use this information to make business decisions.
- Apply these fundamentals to create a business plan, forecasts and budgets, and anticipated information needed for decisions made by you as owner and manager, your employees, and external parties such as future shareholders, creditors, and other constituents.
You cannot call yourself a competent business person unless you are fluent in the accounting language.
1.2 Take a course in Personal Finance
"No one was ever ruined by taking a profit".
—Stock exchange maxim
Personal and Family Financial Planning will address many critical personal financial management topics in order to help you learn prudent habits throughout your lifetime.
A good personal finance course will teach you to:
- Understand personal finance as a path to financial security
- Manage your flows and review your financial statements, tools and budgets
- Manage income taxes
- Build and maintain a good credit rating
- Manage risk through insurance
- Understand the rules of investment, debt and equity
- Create a personal investment plan through mutual funds and managed portfolios
1.3 Take a course in Business Law
"In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so".
—Immanuel Kant, German philosopher
A sound knowledge of business law is an indispensable guide for today's entrepreneur. Whether you are establishing a new enterprise, buying or selling a company, raising finance, entering into a merger or executing commercial agreements you should be familiar with the rules, the concepts, and pitfalls of the legal aspects.
A good business law course will teach you the basics of:
- Relating with Lawyers
- Establishing or Acquiring an enterprise
- The Legal entity, "Ownership" & Management of a company
- The hands and legs of a company (Directors, & Officers)
- Company Law and Corporate Governance
- E-commerce & Protection of Intellectual Property
- Basics of the Law of Contract, and Good faith contracts
- Sales Contracts, Quality Obligations and Fitness
- Employment & Labor Relations
- Creating value within the law (Alternative Dispute Resolution, & Getting BY)
- Contemporary Issues in Law: e-commerce and the law, Oil & Gas Contracts, etc.
- Estate Planning
- Business Related Offences