Business Acumen: what is it & why is it important?

Business Acumen: what is it & why is it important?

In essence, an individual described as having business acumen will possess key elements such as:

  1. A fundamental business knowledge, such as business strategy, cash flow, financial metrics & statements, business performance
  2. A core understanding of business functions i.e. sales, marketing, operations, logistics, HR, Finance
  3. An ability to know what it takes to make the business successful: from the overall picture, to each business function, down to individual performance and how each affects the business
  4. Having a motivational management style to inspire all staff members to perform their tasks to the best of their ability and in line with business goals. Lead collaboration between business units
  5. An understanding of how the marketplace changes and the drive to make the required business decisions within the business to meet challenges head on

Incidentally, most of the points above also refer to a different definition: leadership skills. Whilst many definitions differ on the exact amounts of ‘Nature versus Nurture’, all agree on one point:  strong business acumen is developed.

Why is having business acumen and leadership skills so important? 

It’s good for business.  An individual capable of truly understanding and visualising how to drive for success will make any business successful.  Their thought processes on how to bring the business’s product and/or services to market will be through innovative and unprecedented channels in many cases.  Their enthusiasm and ability to turn strategy into efficient day to day operations will affect most individuals in the company. ‘working toward a common goal’. The result:  a profitable business, both in terms of sales growth and branding. 

It’s good for the individual.  The job spec from any business leaders looking for a new CEO will inherently contain criteria including possessing business skills, business acumen and the ability to drive and enthuse all areas within the business to achieve it’s maximum capabilities. ‘everyone likes a winner’  The result: the individual can work towards a successful career and a great earning potential. 

How can business acumen be obtained? 

Business Acumen can be developed in many ways.  From day-to-day personal mentoring to board games – yes board games - to experiential learning through business simulations.  Each bring opportunities for both the business and the individual. Key here is for senior executives to implement the most effective development tool for their business.

Technological innovation in the last decade has provided wide ranging business simulations in the market, which provide unprecedented learning tools that have incredible applications. Collecting large amounts of data which can be turned into intelligent metrics provide insights businesses are only today turning into predictive and role-modelling analytics to become more efficient.

Businesses can employ a simulation to assess a range of team and individual abilities, from knowledge and understanding to applying learning into strategy development and execution.  As the simulation runs operational steps are tested against internal and external market forces, giving both individuals and management an immediate overview of what worked well and what did not. Challenging experiential learning using gamification techniques not only bring out the competitive spirit they also drive collaboration.

The benefit of business simulations is that is immerses individuals into a business world of their own in which their acumen skills are developed, in the most natural occurring manner.  Most importantly for the business – mistakes are made in the simulation not in the real world (well hopefully anyway!) offering opportunity for new learning to be implemented into longer term strategic growth development.

Business simulations offer flexibility and scalabilty; in line with individual business requirements.  From large scale events to build team acumen through operational knowledge sharing across business functions to smaller tailored workshops teaching motivational skills.

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