A foundational business knowledge is valuable for professionals of all career levels and industries. According to a LinkedIn study, individuals skilled in management, leadership, and analytical reasoning are in high demand in today’s economy.

In addition, McKinsey projects that the need for people with entrepreneurship, creativity, decision-making, and similar business skills will continue to grow through 2030 as automation, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies reshape the modern workforce.

Whether you’re an engineer, healthcare provider, or recent college graduate, broadening your business acumen can help you accelerate your career and make an impact on your organization.

Here are five ways you can develop business skills for any profession.

How to Develop Business Skills

1. Earn a Business Degree or Certificate


If you’re interested in furthering your education, earning an MBA or business certificate may be the right move for you.

An MBA program can not only give you a framework for problem-solving and leadership, but help you build a global perspective. By participating in rigorous academic activities and discussions with classmates from different countries and professional backgrounds, you can be exposed to a multitude of viewpoints that inform how you approach key business decisions.

Another option is to enroll in an online certificate program or course, such as those offered by Harvard Business School Online. For many working professionals, online programs offer the opportunity to acquire new skills in a way that’s flexible, convenient, and just as challenging as a traditional classroom environment.

Both of these avenues can help you develop the skills needed to thrive at your company, and lay a foundation for long-term career success.

Related: How to Ask Your Employer to Pay for Your Education

2. Leverage Your Real-World Experience


Every work experience in your career presents a chance to improve your business skills.

Demonstrating time management and strong communication skills in your daily tasks can help you prove you’re a capable employee and get ahead at work.

Even if you’re in a position that doesn’t seem quite relevant to your overall career trajectory, there are ways you can take advantage of the opportunity. Collaborating with fellow volunteers at a soup kitchen, or coordinating activities as a youth camp counselor, can be valuable, hands-on experiences that bolster your skill set and equip you with the capabilities needed to succeed in business.

3. Read Business Articles and Blogs


As disruption and innovation drive change across industries, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest business news and trends.

Make it a point to regularly read publications and blogs that offer engaging, insightful content on the state of affairs in the business world. Some examples include the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Business Insider.

Being informed on the latest business news can give you an in-depth understanding of your company’s place in today’s market, and also broaden your knowledge of economic and financial terminology.

4. Tap Into Your Network


Nearly 80 percent of professionals consider networking to be important to career success, and it’s just as important when developing your business skills.

If you’re aiming to pick up new skills in subjects like business analytics or financial accounting, evaluate your network and consider who might be able to offer advice and guidance on how to grow in those areas.

In addition to tapping into your larger professional network, identify a mentor at your organization who you can talk to about your career goals and objectives. Research by the Association for Talent Development shows that participating in a mentoring relationship can lead to greater professional development and a deeper understanding of organizational culture.

For David Lanre Messan, an idea strategist and former Disruptive Strategy participant, being part of the HBS Online Community has been a way to grow his network and gain knowledge from fellow online learners from all over the globe.

“People come with different perspectives to a subject,” Messan says. “Every day, there is something new to learn. That alone lifts my spirits. I’m challenged.”

5. Give and Receive Feedback


Professional development is a process. As you hone your business skills, seek out regular, honest feedback from your managers and colleagues so you can identify your strengths and weaknesses.

According to Gallup, team members who receive weekly, rather than annual, feedback from their managers are three times more likely to feel motivated to do outstanding work, and over two times more likely to be engaged at their organization.

Peer feedback—even if it’s negative—can help you gauge your workplace performance and determine which areas you need to improve.

Be sure to deliver feedback as well. Doing so will enable you to develop emotional intelligence, setting you up to be an effective business leader.

Credential of Readiness (CORe) - Master the fundamentals of business. Learn more.

The Importance of Business Skills

Business knowledge can be an asset in any profession. With an understanding of how markets work, how to interpret data and analyze trends, and how to evaluate the financial health of a company, among other skills, you can drive strategic decision-making at your organization and develop the confidence needed to take your career to the next level.

Do you want to master essential business concepts? Explore our online Credential of Readiness (CORe) program, and discover how you can acquire new skills and develop a fresh perspective on how businesses work.

Matt Gavin

About the Author

Matt Gavin is a member of the marketing team at Harvard Business School Online. Prior to returning to his home state of Massachusetts and joining HBS Online, he lived in North Carolina, where he held roles in content writing and social media. He has a background in video production, and previously worked on several documentary films for Boston’s PBS station, WGBH. In his spare time, he enjoys running, cycling, exploring New England, and spending time with his family.