To describe someone as business savvy is a rare compliment that we seldom pay to ourselves. Perhaps that’s because when you have spent some time striving to reach your goals in business you realise that to become an expert in the business arena is a process of continuous development, learning, communication and problem solving. So it’s a compliment indeed when we describe someone as business savvy.

But what characteristics are we describing?

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There’s no doubt that expertise in the field of doing business is itself integral to being a business savvy individual. Being an expert in the industry of business means having a complete understanding of the machinations of a business, from the top down and back up to the top again. Not only should there be an in-depth understanding of how a company works; there’s also a seamless grasp of the interconnectedness of everything. It’s about understanding the way that one action links to another and one individual can, therefore, impact the success of a whole business. So what are the key characteristics and attributes that combine with business expertise to single out these individuals?

We’re going to take a closer look at six of them now.

1. Great communication

You don’t get to be described as business savvy unless you come top of the class in communication. And by communication we’re talking about a two-way process – both listening and talking.

Great communicators unite people because they are able to understand what people want and need, and at the same time translate their own needs into a language and message that motivates and engages their audience. When you think about these people you’re thinking of someone who is comfortable communicating with anyone across a business and probably spends a lot of time doing just that.

They understand the importance of communication for many reasons including the fact that they never stop learning, never stop processing and constantly evolve their thinking. They create power in their people by recognising them as individuals with their own stories to tell and ideas to input.

2. Solution seekers

Whether natural or self-taught, there is no doubt that when you call someone business savvy they will have problem solving skills that are sure to impress. For them problem solving is not just an option: it’s a way of life. And they are never happier than when coming up with a solution that will drive efficiency; make the impossible possible; enhance profit; or just simply make things work. And with the expertise you would expect from these individuals you know that the solution they create will work across every area it impacts.

3. Where they’re going and how they’ll get there

When you are dealing with a business savvy individual, you are working alongside a master of planning who has a firm grasp of every process that exists and will be impacted by any plan they should want to put in place. It’s an impressive feat and means that there is an innate understanding of the interconnections between every area of the business. This understanding of interconnections also extends to the future and the past – these leaders know where their company has come from; where it is going to; and the processes that need to happen in between to make possibilities become realities.

4. Number literate

When you point at someone across the room and identify them as business savvy, their ability to grasp the numerical intricacies of their business will be a key factor in what has led you to name them as such. Because they will need to have a detailed understanding of all the metrics that comprise the functioning of the business, from its past to its future goals. This is about more than just accounting, this is the ability to use numbers to track the life of a business. These individuals understand the numerical impact of progress and can pinpoint the triggers of success or failure in their monthly performance and projections.

This grasp of numbers extends well beyond the workings of the business to the wider industry and local, and global economy. From oil prices to currency, you can be sure that anyone worthy of this label knows that numbers make the world go around when it comes to business performance.

5. Sales

When you look at sales people you’re looking at the area of a business that is in contact with customers most regularly; understands the threat of competition most keenly; and also drives the flow of cash into the company. Any business person worth their salt recognises that sales is an incredibly important part of the business machine. The business savvy individual treats them as the life-flow of the business and works hard to keep a finger on the pulse in order to track the company’s health.

Using finely honed communication skills they speak the language of sales and are rewarded with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of their position in the marketplace, and the opportunities that are there to be seized. They keep one ear bent towards their sales team and take the insights gathered and sow them across the rest of the business in order to watch them grow into their future success.

6. Business Development

Because they are excellent networkers, those who are identified as business savvy are also recognised as natural performers in the field of business development. Their focus on developing the business is keen, and they are well adapted to identifying opportunities for growth through potential new customers, mergers, product opportunities, acquisitions and more. As with all characteristics of these individuals, the finger is firmly on the pulse and there is never a moment when they are not considering the opportunities to enhance their offering or sign up a new contract.

There is not just one skill or area of knowledge that sets them apart from other hard working and competent business people. But there are some key characteristics and skills that dominate their overall make up, and these are consistently demonstrated and developed. One of the strongest characteristics is the ongoing desire to learn, and so to constantly improve skills, knowledge and understanding. One of the strongest skills is in communication, and the ability to engage people of all disciplines and areas of expertise. They are a uniting force in a company, and are there to inspire. They never stand still, and use their repertoire and experience to constantly drive themselves, their team, and their business forward.