small business skills

5 Skills I Wish I Had that Make Small Business Ownership So Much Easier

By Mark Aselstine

There’s any number of hats that a small business owner wears on a consistent basis and to me, one of the biggest challenges for anyone that owns a small business, is that you’ll be constantly needing to do certain things yourself in order to save money. 

Over the past week, I had an error with some of my website data, that required encrypting and then decrypting a file. If you aren’t an IT professional by day, you probably understand what a challenge that was, especially given that I wasn’t comfortable handing the data over to someone that I didn’t know personally, or couldn’t speak with in person. Eventually, I got it done, but it wasted a week or so of time.  If I were a big business, I’d have an appointment, or at least an IT guy.

If you haven’t read my work here on Small Business Bonfire, I’ve previously complained and also talked marketing. This time, I want to talk about 5 things I wish I were better at, plus some reasons on why I wish I were better at them.

1. Video Editing

So, I’ve got this awesome video that was made by a professional videographer.  It converts people that watch it, in a way that words and text simply cannot. I’ve messed around with video on my blog, largely because I know the statistics about the rise of online video.

Here’s how many people are actively watching YouTube videos according to Statista.

I know what you’re thinking, that’s not explosive growth. But do you know anyone who doesn’t watch videos on YouTube currently? Other than maybe my 94-year-old neighbor, I don’t know anyone.  The market has been penetrated and for only a good bit of smarts and work, those are a lot of consumers I would like to reach.

2. Keyword Research 

I think this is a common refrain from many online marketers, but sometimes the stuff that drives traffic to your website, or blog literally makes no sense. 

As an example, I can talk about the differences between French and California Grenache to my heart’s content, that’s fascinating content for those of us within the industry, but consumers aren’t there yet.  Instead, they’re asking questions on Google, stuff that I consider incredibly basic. As an example, 1,600 people a month ask how many calories are in Cabernet Sauvignon.  That’s crazy to me, after all there’s pretty much the same number of calories in any glass of wine. So why this amount of interest?

Really, as a small business owner, I want to know what people are searching for.  The ability to get a few hundred people on my website every month, for perpetuity, is exciting.  

Of course, finding those golden keywords seems somewhat impossible.  I use Ahrefs and their tools to see what my competitors sites are receiving traffic for, there are some nuggets in there.  Google’s keyword tool offers some others. As does SEMrush. But, there doesn’t seem to be an easy, all in one solution available for me.  I wish I was better at this, so keyword research didn’t take so long.

3. Accounting

I wish I were better at accounting.  As a small business owner, it’s easy to feel like everyone has their hand out and accounting and other support staff definitely fall into that category. 

As an example, a few years ago our accountant and bookkeeper billed us $5,000 to do our taxes, both personal as well as, business. For what amounted to 10 hours of work for me this tax year, that was crazy.

Now, I spend an hour or two per month entering my transactions into a spreadsheet.  I keep track of every dollar I spend and categorize it. It makes tax day a heck of a lot easier, although I do wish that I was better at accounting so that this entire process was easier and that I saved even more money.

4. Improving Conversion Rates

I talked about needing to do better keyword research, that gets people onto the website. Of course, there’s a second part of driving new business, that’s converting that traffic into sales.  When we first opened, I had no clue what a conversion rate was, what best practices were, or how to improve my website conversion rate beyond that point.  

Here’s the average ecommerce conversion rate by year:

Yes, that’s a worrying trend.  Given that large retailers like Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart tend to convert a significant percentage of their own traffic, the average conversion rate for a small online wine club like mine, tends to be between 1-2%.

I wish I was better at converting traffic into sales.

5. Growing an Email List

When we first opened, collecting emails was the first thing we started to do.  Then we quit for quite some time. In retrospect, that was awfully stupid.

Smart Insights shows what conversion rate looks like by type of traffic:

Yeah, we stopped collecting emails, which is the easiest format in order to convert someone.

I hope that helps explain some of where I’m coming from.  As a small business owner, it’s easy to feel stretched too thin, which helps to explain why most of us have a list of things we wish we did better.

Featured photo credit: Depositphotos
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Mark Aselstine on Twitter
Mark Aselstine
Mark Aselstine is the owner of Uncorked Ventures, a husband and a father of two boys. A Bay Area resident, he’s still trying to get ok with soaring real estate prices that have become commonplace. He’s often on Twitter.

4 comments

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  1. totally agree with all above.
    the accounting thing really has me worried, but like you said “keep track of every dollar spent in a spread sheet”
    having a complicated tax return….should hopefully mean ive had a good year financially!!!
    video editing and photography are 2 skills i really have to brush up on.
    ahrefs and majestic the 2 best tools out there.

  2. Agree with Mike, love Ahrefs. So much functionality I am still to explore. I need to devote more time to building my email list – that’s my next area to explore!

  3. Both video editing and e-mail marketing is something that we’re going to like further into in the future. In relation to keyword research, we can defintely agree that Ahrefs is great and an invaluable tool for our company!

  4. I personally think that there’s a balance between knowing how to do stuff yourself and being good at outsourcing. Things like video editing are very time consuming and can be done by a seasoned pro in no time. But things like keyword research probably should be done by the owner so everything stays congruent with what they want to accomplish. Me personally, I’m also trying hard to improve my ability to grow an email list. Not the easiest thing even though people make it sound so easy online.

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