Top 18 Business Acumen Skills You Should Master

How do you attain the skills required for success in your current job and future career? A trustworthy approach to getting career advancement or growing your business is to acquire business acumen skills. Industry or sector is less relevant when it comes to these skills, as they get the most significant business running effectively.

It is not about fleeting ideas or having good business instincts, but rather a concrete approach and skills to increase business chances of accomplishing goals. Anybody can learn these skills towards obtaining strong business acumen skills.

 What are Business Acumen Skills?


It is the ability to make excellent business decisions by combining several factors to attain the best possible outcome for any given situation. The development of business acumen skills is not just for employees taking leadership roles but extends to everyone partaking in the business process.

These skills improve your job efficiency and ability to tackle work-related challenges. Another additional benefit in building up these skills is the high possibility of attaining career success. Employees with sound business acumen are recognized for excellent talents and always stand out in their field.

There are many ways to define business acumen in our supply chain function. What we deemed necessary are mentioned below.

  1. Affinity for Problem Solving
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. The ability to Assess Risk & Opportunity
  4. Financial Literacy
  5. Project Management
  6. Building Relationships
  7. Business Intelligence
  8. Change Management / Transformation
  9. Communication
  10. Decision-Making
  11. Leadership
  12. People Development / Coaching
  13. Results Focused
  14. Listening to Customers
  15. Stakeholder Engagement
  16. Understand the Business Model
  17. Strategy Development
  18. Dealing with Ambiguity


  1. Affinity for Problem Solving

The application of your knowledge to tackling business issues is a crucial business acumen skill. You achieve this by gathering relevant data about the problem and evaluate possible solutions. If you can apply the needed solution, you need to understand the consequences and only pick a solution with the best chance of attaining the set objectives. If they do not go as planned, you should make the needed alterations to adapt swiftly to the new conditions.

  1. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking entails understanding the big picture for your business, including specific paths to expanding amidst various challenges. These business acumen skills imply understanding all possible approaches the company uses to earn profits and know-how to implement measures to increase profitability. Having excellent critical thinking skills will comprise adaptability, flexibility, prioritization, and strategic actions.

  1. The ability to Assess Risk & Opportunity

A key aspect of enhancing your business acumen skills is to fully understand the consequences of decision-making. There is generally a compromise to every solution, and the effect is shown in how difficult it is to make decisions. Your ability to assess various prospects and risks is part of the process of making decisions. They become more manageable when you can comfortably weigh your choices and potential outcomes to pick a path that delivers the most benefit for your business.

  1. Financial Literacy.

All businesses involve several metrics, with finance making a chunk of it. You need to understand key financial numbers and methods that affect your business’s economic health to improve this business acumen skill. It is essential because data points aid you focus on key measures and how they affect the success of your decisions. Values like customer lifetime and net income are amongst those metrics that are common across the board.

In my Linkedin survey, 684 people have voted and have ranked Critical Thinking and Financial Literacy as 1st and 2nd respectively as skills they want to develop.


Financial Literacy

  1. Project Management

Whether your operations involve a traditional business environment, charity, start-up, or other sectors, the project management skill has to do with your operational context. Identifying and fully implementing your business operations is part of your Project Management skills. This business acumen skill entails the ability to make good decisions and apply professional ruling wisely. You are not required to own several years of experience in project management but use common sense to apply recommendations, deliver professional judgment, engage the right stakeholders, and more.

Read blog Learn Project Management – Top 19 Online Courses & Books

  1. Building Relationships

The idea of building relationship skills is to enhance your understanding of the various approaches you can take to create new or existing partnerships, engaging employees and customers. This business acumen skill is about your ability to understand processes and sound relationship decisions beneficial to your business operations. This approach aids the existing framework as a guide towards improving decision-making and overall business growth.

To emphasize more on this topic, you should watch this episode of The Supply Chain Show

  1. Business Intelligence.

Having business intelligence skills necessitates a good knowledge of management processes and styles. It is an essential business acumen skill that focuses on engaging the right tools, procedures, and ideas, which serve as a framework to creating efficient management systems that enhance the business. Several business intelligence processes can boost your business acumen and guarantee a more logical and consistent approach to tackling various challenges.

In my Linkedin Survey, 659 professionals voted Business Intelligence as one of the leading skills they want to develop more.

Access Risk and Opportunity

  1. Change Management / Transformation

Change is unavoidable in the business environment, so it is not hard for new transformations to improve profitability and productivity. Despite its importance, the most significant challenges lie in who takes the most critical step in successfully implementing them. Your ability to effectively handle resistance from employees and stakeholders showing best intentions is a crucial business acumen skill. This skill entails boosting internal training for employees and providing the needed knowledge to fully utilize the change/transformation solution.

  1. Communication

Once you understand your business goals and know what is expected to achieve them, it is essential to understand how to communicate them and reach them. A crucial part of effective communication is active listening.  It is vital to routinely communicate strategic business ideas with employees and take opinions you consider relatively helpful. Communication skills in building your business acumen are always going to aid align your business projects and employees on the same page towards achieving strategic goals. Understanding how communication works would assist drive your business success.

  1. Decision-Making

A proper grasp of your thought processes is essential to improving business acumen skills, as it centers heavily on your analysis and reasoning. If you can understand the business operation framework, and the different directions to take, you become a better judge. Enhancing your decision-making process can boost your understanding of complex frameworks and how to relate to them more. Your decision-making skill is essential to your ability and personality you wish to strengthen.

  1. Leadership

You can build this business acumen skill by concentrating on the improvement of people skills. A successful business does not just rely on insight relating to the business process but also on the connections of various elements that depend on your ability to lead other employees. The execution of needed strategies is dependent on the employees you want to show. Suitable people skills guarantee you do not harm the business efficiency as lousy leadership has been noted to increase employee dissatisfaction.

  1. People Development / Coaching

Employee development and coaching are business acumen skills you can do to teach employees. This skill involves aiding employees with the tools needed to educate themselves. The resources could be books, online courses, training, and more which could cover various business skills and areas for employees to learn and grow in selected career paths. Partnership with academic institutions can facilitate continuous training for employees. The implementation of these strategies can aid employees’ access better understanding of various business operations and how they make a big difference.

In Supply Chain Context, I have done a very interesting video on SUPPLY CHAIN CAREER COACHING- Best Advice from 2 Awesome Experts

  1. Results Focused

To drive success for your business and employees, you need to minimize distractions and focus more on business goals that will make a difference. It is a challenging business acumen skill to master as every business is overwhelmed with interferences. Staying result-focused allows you to realize more daily as your time is focused on tasks driving your business success.

  1. Listening to Customers

Understanding what motivates your customers to engage your business is a vital process to growth. You also want to recognize their challenges and assess the possibilities of providing solutions. The more you learn and listen to customers, the better you can realize paths and gaps towards delivering captivating products and services. This essential business acumen skill lets you gain more insight into what key stakeholders find important and aids you focus on the things that matter most to your customers.

  1. Stakeholder Engagement

Every business has several stakeholders, including customers who are implicit stakeholders. These stakeholders all play a part in your business decisions. Depending on the nature of your operations, matching the needs of key stakeholders can be challenging. Engaging stakeholder like employees, investors, and partners are essential to building your business acumen skills. Another part is exercising and understanding each stakeholder’s objectives. The stakeholders in your business need to be a factor in the decision-making process.

  1. Understand the Business Model

An early component towards developing strong business acumen skills is a deep knowledge of your business model. It goes outside having a basic understanding of its process but diving deep into the various sections of the business and how they impact its life cycle. Another critical aspect of understanding a business model is the importance of talent acquisition and how it will help the company grow. Your choice of HR aids this business acumen skill in ensuring new employees is well suited for the needed skills to be successful. The deeper you understand your business model and factors that affect your ability to grow, the more it aids you in developing your business acumen towards making better decisions and growth policies.

In my 2nd poll on Linkedin on this topic, Understand the Business Model comes as 2nd most important Business Acumen Skills from the selection.

Understand Business Model

  1. Strategy Development

The Strategy Development skills are also vital as it aids you in understanding your present business objectives. These business acumen skills also let you decide on the step for business improvement and detailing how to achieve them. Questions like “what are your business growth strategies?”, “How do you plan to advance your products and services?”, “Why are you choosing to pursue some revenue prospects?” and more are needed to understand strategies needed to go forward. Understanding your strategy development skills and their purpose will aid you in improving your business model’s success.

In the supply chain context, I have been promoting this concept of Supply Chain Strategy – 4 Key Pillars for the last 5 years and I firmly believe this is the very basic where every business should start, regardless of how small or larger the corporation is.

  1. Dealing with Ambiguity

Once you strive to gain more comprehensive information about a business model, you have to deal with ambiguity coming with the different information you will receive. Also, employees are another source of ambiguity you will have to deal with. This business acumen skill will entail learning more about areas that you have little or no exposure to and define the factors you consider essential to each area. You do not have to understand every little detail but should own a considerable understanding of the process. You can go deeper into critical areas considered to be fundamental to your business operations.

In Conclusion

Business acumen skills are a vital component to growing any business. Your skills play a crucial part in convincing both customers, employees, and other critical stakeholders of what your business model is about and why it should always be first on the list. Understanding your business objectives, both long and short, is essential to making key concepts work, and you should be particular about them.

Dr. Muddassir Ahmed
Top 18 Business Acumen Skills You Should Master
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Top 18 Business Acumen Skills You Should Master
In this blog I have explained the Top 18 Business Acumen Skills You Should Master to be Successful in Your Supply Chain Career
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