Soft skills are underrated.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners often focus on the hard, business-focused skills. Accounting. Engineering. Operations.
But it’s often the soft skills that make or break a company’s success. Skills like problem-solving, adaptability, and effective communication can drive your business to success and help build a respected brand.
Indeed, the world’s number one job site, published the results of a survey of 1,000 hiring managers last week, listing the most important attributes of top performers at their company. At the top of the list?
According to Entrepreneur Magazine, effective communication strengthens the connects between a company and all of its stakeholders. It promotes stronger decision making, faster problem solving, increased productivity and stronger business relationships, to name a few of its benefits. In fact, some experts estimate that business executives spend 75-85% of their day engaged in communication.
Author Michael Margolis in his book, Story 10X, talks about the importance of ‘narrative intelligence’ – the ability of leaders to authentically connect and communicate their message. In his words, “The very best leaders are well versed in the art and science of story. They make magical things happen with their words.”
One local PR pro and mentor at UNCW CIE has this week published a new book to help entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profits communicate better. It’s the first in a series called Youcan DIY™ Public Relations.
This first book is specifically on Messaging your Business – something most companies do not do very well. According to Ann Revell-Pechar, the author, there are three reasons they don’t do it well:
“Entrepreneurs often don’t understand the value of communication and PR, small businesses aren’t coached to focus on communication, and, frankly, most don’t believe they can afford PR agency fees,” she said. “But knowing your audience and creating strong messaging that reaches them cuts through this very cluttered environment.”
Messaging your Business takes a fun approach to getting to the core of something that seems easy but isn’t. It’s a colorful workbook, designed by local artist and CIE mentor Cordelia Norris. It provides ideas, insights and examples, and then coaches you to, well, Do It Yourself. How-tos like creating a mission and vision, developing an elevator pitch, and developing fundamental company descriptions are more easily delivered with fill-in-the-blank coaching. Of course, she’ll be happy to coach you 1:1 as well -- something she has done repeatedly for more than 200 startups here and worldwide.
Revell-Pechar has a quote in her book that hit home. It’s from organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich and was printing in Harvard Business Review: "...when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and more creative. We make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively."
Youcan DIY Public Relations books, if the first is any indication, will do just that: help you see your company more clearly, make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships and communicate effectively.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.
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