How to Develop Business Acumen


Business acumen is the ability to make important decisions and possess the skills required to impress in your current role and achieve career success. Developing business acumen takes time and learning should be part of your daily routine. You can develop your skills and knowledge through networking, participating in local and national conferences and taking free tutorials from SCORE and the Small Business Administration. Spot trends early when you talk with customers, suppliers and vendors.

  • Learn as much as possible about your industry, your business and your product or service. Read trade journals, the Wall Street Journal, Inc. magazine and Harvard Business Review. Subscribe to websites that will keep you up to date with the latest news and developments in your field. Talk with vendors in your supply chain.

  • Make notes of business strategies that have worked in the past and those that haven't. Learn from failure. Look at your competitors, and if they are the market leaders then find out why they are more successful. Suggest changes or improvements to your manager and leadership. Participate in cross-training offered by your company and your local college.

  • Maintain passion and enthusiasm for your job by reminding yourself often why you enjoy doing it. This will reflect in your body language and your productivity. And your passion will motivate and inspire others.

  • Think carefully about each business decision you face, weighing up the benefits and disadvantages of each possible outcome. This will lead to an informed and balanced decision.

  • Focus on the business objectives, such as increased profit or improved customer satisfaction. Ask yourself which systems or procedures can be improved to achieve goals.

  • Focus on your goals, even when you feel you may be sinking beneath your workload. In time, your managers will notice your dedication and persistence, and possibly reward you with a bonus or promotion. At the very least, it will hone your skills of discipline and self-motivation.

Tips & Warnings

  • Develop networking strategies.
  • Participate in local and national trade conferences. Share information about your business to help build business contacts.
  • Use LinkedIn and other services to learn information about your industry and people who can help you.
  • Participate in the Chamber of Commerce and other local business groups to develop contacts and business leads.
  • Complete free tutorials from SCORE and the Small Business Administration.
  • Talk regularly with your customers, suppliers and vendors to help spot trends early.


  • Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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