Back to School with 2021’s Hot Skills for Entrepreneurs

Ah, September: do childhood memories of the first day of school leave you longing for a Hilroy scribbler and the crisp edges of a new Pink Pearl eraser?

For those who grew up to be business owners, continuing education for entrepreneurs can satisfy the urge to learn something new. These days, your “back to school” options include online courses, college classes, clubs or learning groups that meet in real life and/or virtually. You can also watch videos, read books, listen to podcasts and study digital resources.

If you aren’t sure what to study next, consider these must-have skills for 2021. One might be the hot topic that everyone will be buzzing about at your next industry get-together.

Hard Skills

Blockchain Programming

Blockchain is a series of blocks that contain data, with all the blocks linked together in a chain that makes it difficult to modify the data. This adds up to a safe way to transfer data—which is why blockchain promises to disrupt many industries. It’s the technology underlying cryptocurrencies, and programming blockchain is highly in demand for well-paid jobs in IT, among other reasons why people want to learn it. For non-techies, understanding the technology and its implications can keep you a step ahead of industry changes.

Harnessing Google Ads and SEO

Understanding how Google Ads uses keywords to sell your products and services online, and how search engine optimization (SEO) builds your online presence, is crucial to funnel sales prospects to your website.

Running a Shopify Store

Learning Shopify basics lets you explore different aspects of running a small business at low cost. It allows you to choose your own branding, set up your store for taxes and add a domain name, allowing you to run with your dream, build a new source of income, or open your business to a whole new world of e-commerce.

Selling on Amazon

As with Shopify, setting up an online Amazon shop involves a broad variety of contemporary business practises, which can be a great way to expand your skills and knowledge. For the pragmatists, it’s a way to test a business idea before you set up a bricks and mortar store or your own e-commerce site.

Project Management

The ability to coordinate a project from start to finish encompasses a bushel of useful skills, such as problem solving, communication and leadership. Of course, you can pursue certification for your existing project management skills, but if you don’t need the paperwork, it’s also possible to dip your toe in with a few courses to learn underlying theories to augment your practical experience.

Soft Skills


This is considered a learnable skill. And while it may be counterintuitive to try to pick up collaboration skills through self-study, you can learn theories of collaboration and then apply them with a team to which you belong. Getting better at collaboration means you can effectively work toward common goals.


A bumper crop of courses promises to share the negotiation techniques used by successful sales people, diplomats and lawyers. Negotiation skills can help you build relationships with people, come up with solutions, avoid unnecessary conflicts, and leave both parties feeling like they’ve come away with something they need, whether it’s in developing profitable business relationships or organizing the cycling club’s next meet-up.

Mindful Listening

While active listening instructs people to repeat what they’ve heard someone say, the practise of mindful listening goes beyond this to give you the time and space to focus on what the other person is saying and to be present in the moment. It’s a skill that benefits both you and the person with whom you’re communicating.

Public Speaking

Who doesn’t yearn to be the insightful industry speaker invited to share their opinion on a panel, or the business owner who fluidly represents their views to a reporter? Public speaking (and the nerves that come along with it) can improve with practise, along with learning tricks of the trade from public speaking coaches, clubs and courses.

Cultural Literacy

Understanding differences in culture, generations, genders and more can help you to better understand your customers, business partners and employees. It’s especially crucial if you’ve been spinning the globe to figure out which international territory your company might expand to next.

Whether you choose to study these topics or something else, acquiring new skills is important for business owners who want to stay current in their field or explore other paths.

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