15 Essential IT Skills for Small Business Ownership

In the dynamic world of small business, IT skills are the backbone of innovation and efficiency. We’ve gathered insights from founders and CEOs to reveal the most valuable IT skills for small business owners. From mastering cloud computing to troubleshooting common computer issues, explore the fifteen key skills that can give your business a competitive edge.

  • Cloud Computing 
  • Servers and Software Subscriptions
  • Basic Cybersecurity Knowledge
  • CMS Proficiency 
  • Financial Management Software
  • Digital Marketing 
  • Website Management 
  • Data Analysis and Visualization 
  • Project Management Software 
  • Customer Experience Tech
  • Social Media Mastery 
  • Basic Printer, Excel, and Photoshop Skills
  • Automation Processes 
  • SEO Knowledge
  • Troubleshooting Common Computer Issues

Cloud Computing 

Navigating the seas of small-business ownership, where the waters are often choppy and unpredictable, one of the most valuable IT skills that acts as a sturdy rudder is the ability to understand and manage cloud computing solutions. Just as a rudder guides a ship through turbulent seas, cloud computing expertise enables a small-business owner to steer their business efficiently, ensuring they can adapt to the digital landscape’s ebbs and flows.

In today’s digital age, cloud computing is akin to the trade winds that powered the ships of old—essential for propulsion and reaching new destinations. It offers small businesses the scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency they need to thrive. With cloud computing, businesses can access and manage data, applications, and services from anywhere, breaking the chains that tie them to costly, physical infrastructure and allowing for smoother sailing in the vast digital ocean.

At Zibtek, leveraging cloud computing has been pivotal. For instance, by implementing cloud-based project management tools, we’ve enhanced our team’s ability to collaborate in real-time, regardless of their physical location—much like a captain and crew navigating in unison, despite being on different parts of the ship. This has not only improved our operational efficiency but also significantly reduced our IT overhead, allowing us to allocate resources more effectively and focus on innovation and growth.

Mastering cloud computing has enabled us to swiftly adjust our sails to the changing winds of the market, introducing new services, scaling operations up or down, and embracing remote work long before it became a necessity. This skill has been the cornerstone of our resilience and adaptability, ensuring that Zibtek remains competitive and responsive to client needs in the fluid digital marketplace.

For small-business owners charting their course in today’s digital economy, the ability to navigate cloud computing is not just valuable—it’s indispensable. Like a rudder to a ship, it offers direction and control, allowing businesses to harness the power of modern technology to sail towards success. This IT skill is the wind in the sails of small businesses, propelling them forward in an ever-evolving digital world.

Cache Merrill, Founder, Zibtek

Servers and Software Subscriptions

A crucial IT skill for small-business owners is the capacity to independently manage and access their servers, along with all technology related software subscriptions. 

This skill ensures they maintain control over their technological infrastructure, enabling them to perform basic operations such as restarting servers or setting up new ones during critical moments when immediate assistance is unavailable. It also empowers them to retain direct control over their websites and code.

Barkan Saeed, CEO, Vizteck Solutions

Basic Cybersecurity Knowledge 

When it comes to running a small business, having a solid grasp of IT skills can be a real game-changer. While there are many valuable IT skills out there, one of the most important ones for small business owners is basic cybersecurity knowledge.

In today’s digital age, cyber threats are everywhere. From phishing scams to malware attacks, small businesses are often targeted by cybercriminals looking to steal sensitive data or hold systems hostage for ransom. As a small business owner, it’s essential to understand these risks and take steps to protect your company’s digital assets.

This is where basic cybersecurity knowledge comes in. By understanding the different types of cyber threats out there and how to prevent them, you can help keep your business safe from attack. This might include things like using strong passwords, regularly updating software and systems, and training your employees on how to spot and avoid phishing attempts.

Having a basic understanding of cybersecurity can also help you make informed decisions about the technology you use in your business. For example, when choosing a cloud storage provider or a payment processing system, you’ll want to look for one that offers robust security features and follows industry best practices for data protection.

But the benefits of cybersecurity knowledge go beyond just preventing attacks. By showing your customers and clients that you take their data security seriously, you can build trust and credibility for your brand. In today’s climate of data breaches and privacy concerns, this can be a major selling point for your business.

Of course, cybersecurity is just one piece of the IT puzzle. Other valuable IT skills for small business owners might include things like basic web design, data analysis, or even social media marketing. The key is to identify the skills that are most relevant to your specific business needs and to invest time and resources into developing them.

At the end of the day, having strong IT skills can help you run your small business more efficiently, effectively, and securely. And in a world where technology is constantly evolving, that’s a valuable asset indeed.

Sam Kadel, Founder, KBA Web

CMS Proficiency 

It’s useful to know how a CMS like WordPress works so you can make changes to your business website yourself instead of relying on an agency to update your site. The agency might need additional time to fix problems or create content that you can use to capitalize on limited-time opportunities.

Eric Novinson, Founder, This Is Accounting Automation

Financial Management Software

In running Rockerbox Tax Solutions, one of the most invaluable IT skills I’ve harnessed is the understanding and application of sophisticated financial management software. This technological proficiency isn’t merely about keeping meticulous records; it’s about leveraging the software’s intelligence to forecast, plan, and manage cash flow more effectively—a crucial component for any small business’s success. 

For instance, after implementing an integrated financial management solution, we transitioned from traditional bookkeeping practices to a more dynamic, real-time tracking of our financial health. This shift didn’t just improve our efficiency; it equipped us with the ability to anticipate financial challenges, identify profitable opportunities swiftly, and make informed decisions. We used this software to model various tax scenarios for our clients, helping them to save thousands of dollars in potential tax liabilities by choosing the most advantageous strategies.

Moreover, this IT skill facilitated our capacity to provide personalized advice to our clients. By harnessing the power of financial management software, we were able to offer bespoke wealth management solutions. For example, by analyzing a client’s financial data, we could identify specific patterns leading to unnecessary tax burdens. Then, by adjusting their financial strategy in the software and projecting future outcomes, we empowered our clients to achieve their wealth preservation and creation goals more effectively. This level of service wouldn’t have been possible without a deep, working knowledge of the relevant IT tools in the financial management sphere.

Philip Wentworth, Jr, Co-Founder and CEO, Rockerbox Tax Solutions

Digital Marketing

Your online presence and how you choose to show up there is a major must for any small business to understand and be confident in working on. Especially, understanding digital marketing concepts like search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing can help small business owners reach their target audience effectively and drive sales.

Understanding digital marketing also helps you with personalized and interactive communication with customers. Skills in email marketing, social media management, and content creation enable small business owners to engage with their audience, address their needs and preferences, and build meaningful relationships that drive customer loyalty and advocacy. It helps to familiarize yourself with multiple platforms and to educate yourself on current digital marketing trends and what they really mean. 

This is also where networking becomes helpful, as you can pick the brains of those in your own circle to educate yourself on digital marketing concepts. You can then be more confident in your abilities, even if much of the technical side isn’t your strongest skill.

Tom Richards, Director and Founder, Adbetter

Website Management Skills 

Having a professional and functional website is essential for small businesses to establish an online presence and reach potential customers. A well-designed website serves as a virtual storefront where customers can learn about the business, its products or services, and how to contact or purchase from it. So, having some intel in regard to website management is a must for any small business owner.

By managing your website internally, small business owners can avoid the recurring costs associated with hiring external web development agencies or freelancers to make updates or changes to their website. This can result in significant cost savings over time, especially for businesses with limited budgets.

I also find that having in-house knowledge of website management helps owners provide responsive customer support by addressing website-related issues or inquiries quickly and efficiently. This can lead to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty, as customers appreciate the timely resolution of their concerns.

Christian Ofori-Boateng, CEO, ChristianSteven

Data Analysis and Visualization

Small business owners usually have a lot on their plates, from conducting market research to ensuring proper enforcement within their operations. This burden increases when the business is related to IT, or there is a demand for greater IT skills. In my opinion, data analysis and visualization must be mastered at all costs because the more data you have, the greater opportunities can be explored, provided you’re able to assess it all. 

I understand that hiring can be an alternative to mastering these skills, but as a business owner, lacking in this area can cause you to lose your market share or prevent you from making informed decisions. For instance, if you’re launching a new product in the market without understanding the nuances of it and not assessing the market fit, will your product flourish? It’s a complete no-brainer; having such skills is always an advantage. 

Now, technology has shown tremendous advancements that can be leveraged. You must also learn how to integrate AI-based software and tools to streamline processes and make data interpretation even easier. I have been using Dynatrace, an excellent tool for data insights that enhances data productivity and offers further recommendations as well.

Bobby Lawson, Technology editor/publisher, Earth Web

Project Management Software

From my journey with OneStop Northwest and overseeing various aspects of the business, I’ve found that understanding and utilizing project management software stands out as an invaluable IT skill for small business owners. This expertise isn’t just about keeping projects on track but also about fostering team collaboration, managing resources efficiently, and providing transparency to clients, which are all critical components for the success of a small business.

For instance, implementing Zoho Projects within our operations at OneStop Northwest transformed the way we managed client projects. The ability to plan, assign tasks, and track progress in real-time not only optimized our workflow but also significantly improved our delivery time, setting us apart from competitors. This tool allowed us to have a holistic view of our projects, identify bottlenecks early, and adjust resources accordingly, ensuring that we delivered quality service within the agreed deadlines.

Additionally, the integration capabilities of such software with other tools like communication platforms and file-sharing services further streamlined our operations, enhancing our efficiency. By centralizing project information and allowing for real-time updates, we were able to maintain clear and consistent communication with our clients, building trust and enhancing customer satisfaction. Understanding how to leverage project management software effectively is more than an IT skill—it’s a strategic asset that can drive significant growth and success for small businesses.

Dylan Cleppe, Co-Founder & CEO, OneStop Northwest LLC

Customer Experience Tech

One IT skill that I couldn’t have done without is the use of technology to perfect customer experience. In today’s technology-focused business environment, customers expect more personalized interactions with businesses. Technology plays an important role in satisfying this expectation. Small-business owners can use customer relationship management systems, chatbots, data analytics, and other technology to get a better understanding of customer behavior, preferences, and needs so that they can improve products/services, responses, and overall customer experience.

Aiming to cultivate this competence requires you to keep up to date with the latest in technological evolutions and gadgets that can help your business and, most of all, your customers. Use user-friendly technology according to your business needs and the expectations of your customers. A culture that stimulates innovation and experimentation within your business can help you identify improvements in served customer experience through technological solutions. By investing in technology that can improve customers’ interactions with their business, small-business owners can distinguish themselves from the rest.

James Wilkinson, CEO, Balance One Supplements

Social Media Mastery 

One of the most valuable IT skills for small-business ownership, from my experience, is mastering social media management and marketing. Running Frostbeard Studio, I’ve realized that engaging with your community and audience online is not just about posting regularly, but it’s also about understanding analytics, advertising, and brand voice alignment across various platforms.

For instance, in 2015, after launching our official website and diving deep into Instagram, I began connecting with the book-lover community or “Bookstagram.” This was pivotal for us. Not only did it increase our visibility, but it also allowed us to directly engage with our target audience in a meaningful way. Leveraging Instagram analytics, we could tailor our content to peak interest times and trends, significantly boosting our website traffic and, consequently, sales.

Moreover, effectively using social media management tools can streamline this whole process, allowing for scheduled posts, insights into engagement data, and the efficiency to manage multiple accounts simultaneously. For a small business like ours, where the team is lean, being efficient with our online presence meant we could focus more on product development and customer service, enhancing overall business growth. 

The lesson here is that social media management isn’t just about the technical know-how of posting online. It’s about strategically using these platforms to build and maintain community engagement, a crucial element for any small business’s growth in this digital age.

Roxie Lubanovic, Co-Founder, Frostbeard Studio

Basic Printer, Excel, and Photoshop Skills

It might not sound fancy or highly professional, but the key IT skills that would be applicable for any business are knowing how to use a printer and work in Excel and Photoshop. 

Firstly, understanding how to use a printer might seem mundane, but in many workplaces, it remains a fundamental skill. Despite the increasing digitalization of documents, there are still instances where hard copies are necessary, such as in client meetings or for official documentation. 

Moving on to Excel, it’s not just a spreadsheet tool; it’s a versatile software that can handle a wide range of tasks, from simple data entry to complex data analysis and visualization, which is crucial in decision-making processes and budgeting for your business.

Photoshop might seem more niche, but visual communication is becoming increasingly important in the business world. It allows for the creation of professional-looking visuals that can enhance the overall presentation and impact of various business materials. These basic IT skills form the backbone of many day-to-day operations within a business.

Daria Erina, Managing Director, Linked Helper

Automation Processes 

One of the most valuable IT skills for small-business owners, in my opinion, is the ability to automate processes and workflows. By implementing automation solutions, we’ve been able to reduce manual tasks, improve efficiency, and allocate our resources more effectively, driving productivity and cost savings.

Gideon Ruben, CEO, Your IAQ

SEO Knowledge 

SEO is a technical and crucial strategy to learn for SMBs, since it drives organic traffic. Most small firms fail to come up with the capital to pay for advertising, which makes their financial situation worse. Your company’s search engine rankings can benefit from your technical knowledge of SEO. Users tend to see websites that are ranked higher in search results as more reputable and trustworthy. 

Using search engine optimization (SEO), you can boost the credibility of your brand. Especially if you own a small company in a specific region, local SEO is a must. It will help people in your area discover you when they search for your products or services.

Miranda Bence, CEO, CMO, Entrepreneur, Cherry Picks Reviews

Troubleshooting Common Computer Issues 

Understanding basic computer troubleshooting can help you fix everyday issues like software crashes, internet connection problems, and password resets. By being able to handle these situations yourself, you can save time and money that you’d otherwise spend calling a technician.

.Kimberley Tyler-Smith, VP of Strategy and Growth, Resume Worded