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While ‘hard skills’, which involve technical skills and knowledge, are crucial for building a successful business, ‘soft skills’ also play a key role.  

Strong and effective abilities in areas like communication and people management are a vital factor in driving growth and ensuring the overall success of a business.  

Unlike hard skills, which are job-specific and measurable, soft skills are often more about how you work and interact with others. 

This guide explores some key soft skills for founders and how to improve them for the benefit of your business.  


As a business owner, you need to interact with a wide range of people including employees, customers, suppliers, accountants, advisers, journalists, and finance lenders. This means that an ability to effectively communicate is especially important. 

To succeed as a founder, you should be able to clearly transmit your ideas, thoughts, opinions etc to whoever needs to hear them in a clear and understandable way.  

A key thing you will need to communicate is what your business does. There are many situations when this will be necessary, such as at networking events, applying for funding, and closing a business deal. Practising and developing a clear elevator pitch about your business will help you to do that.  

Listening is vital for effective communication. If you have employees, create a team culture that encourages feedback and has open channels of communication. Staff should feel comfortable with sharing their thoughts and opinions. Be proactive in listening to what they have to say and be transparent with any actions you need to take as a result.  

No matter who you are communicating with, making eye contact is important in face-to-face meetings. Think about your body language too and avoid actions, such as crossing your arms, which may communicate negativity or defensiveness.  

Time management 

Business owners often have to wear many hats. Having to take responsibility for finances, marketing, sales, employee engagement and more means time management is crucial. Fail to manage your time effectively and you could become overwhelmed, make bad decisions and miss out on valuable opportunities.  

Organise your time so you know which tasks to focus on. To-do lists are useful and help to clarify what needs to be done each day, week and month. 

Time and project management apps can make you more organised and collaborate better with others. Examples are Todoist, Asana, and Trello.    

Understanding the part of the day most suited to you working on particular tasks can help. For example, some people are most effective in the morning so tackle big projects then, whereas others perform better later in the day. 

You may think you have lots of responsibilities, consider delegating some of them to other people. If you have a team, think about who you can pass tasks on to. You can also outsource time consuming tasks to external experts. An example is finding an accountant to look after your tax and financial affairs. 

Decisiveness and decision making 

Being decisive and making decisions is a critical soft skill that impacts the success of business projects and the direction of an organisation. You will need to make decisions at every stage of your business journey, and indecisiveness can lead to procrastination and missed opportunities.  

To make the best decisions, it is important to fully understand everything about your business and what you want to achieve. Being clear about your mission and values will help inform the decisions that you need to make.  

When weighing up which way to go with a decision, it can help to draw up a list of the pros and cons for each option and what might happen if you make that decision.  

Being proactive about gathering all the information you need and speaking to all relevant people will help to better inform your decisions.  

People management 

Motivated and engaged employees are at the heart of many businesses, which means people management is a vital soft skill for business owners. Get it right and you will likely enjoy higher staff retention rates and increased productivity. 

Effective staff management involves creating a positive and productive work environment. Encourage an open and transparent team culture where staff know how to share feedback and feel they are appreciated.  

To maintain good team morale and strong relationships between staff, you could organise group away days and activities. Even simple actions such as providing a few drinks at the end of the week can help to maintain morale.  

Good people managers do not micro-manage. Allow employees to take control of tasks and develop their own ideas for completing them.  

As your business grows and you recruit more employees, put managers in place for staff to report to. Avoid interfering where you are not needed and concentrate on growing your business.  

If conflicts arise among employees, be proactive in resolving them. Stay calm and consider why the situation has come about. Follow employment regulations and communicate with clarity and transparency.  


Looking after yourself as a business owner, both physically and mentally, is important. Running your own venture is often stressful, and if you are struggling, it can have a direct negative impact on your business’ performance.  

There are several actions you can take to practise self-care. 

Taking regular breaks, drinking water, exercising regularly, eating healthy food and getting plenty of sleep can all be helpful. 

If loneliness is a problem while working on your own, meeting other founders at events can be beneficial. Search on websites like Eventbrite, Find Networking Events and Meetup to find business events to attend.  

If you need help with your mental health, do not be afraid to speak to someone. That could be a psychologist or GP, as well as charities like Mind and Mental Health UK

For more advice on self-care and mental health, read this guide.   

Get help with your business 

TaxAssist Accountants can provide the right advice to support your business. We offer help with taxes, accounting, bookkeeping and payroll, as well as connecting you with other providers we work with. Contact us to learn more about our services and to book a free initial meeting. 

Date published 1 May 2024

This article is intended to inform rather than advise and is based on legislation and practice at the time. Taxpayer’s circumstances do vary and if you feel that the information provided is beneficial it is important that you contact us before implementation. If you take, or do not take action as a result of reading this article, before receiving our written endorsement, we will accept no responsibility for any financial loss incurred.

Dan Martin

Dan is a freelance journalist and event host who writes content for TaxAssist Accountants. With 20 years of experience, he has interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind the newest start-ups. Dan was previously Head of Content at small business membership organisation Enterprise Nation.

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