How To Develop a Business Acumen That Puts You Ahead of Your Peers

CoachHub · 17 November 2022 · 4 min read

Business acumen or, more simply, business sense, is an amalgamation of many different cognitive abilities. These abilities include an understanding of how the financial markets work, how businesses are built and sustained, and a keen awareness of your own strengths and limitations. Developing a strong business acumen will help you excel in your career – no matter what profession you’re in.

What is business acumen?

Having business acumen means you have a solid foundation of insight into the business’s operations, challenges and strategies. Strong business acumen is a non-negotiable quality of anyone who wants to be in a leadership position. 

Business acumen demands employees to be able to understand business issues and be comfortable facing business concerns. 

Someone with high business acumen could easily answer the following questions: 

  • What makes your organization profitable? 
  • How does your business make strategic decisions?
  • What projects are of top priority to the business?
  • What are the challenges your organization faces?
  • What are the core components of your company’s corporate culture? 
  • What internal and external resources are available to learn about your organization’s business and operational strategies?
  • What organizational metrics contribute to decision-making?
business acumen

How to develop business acumen

Business acumen competency will help you progress in your career as you will have the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in leadership roles. Business acumen is the ability to understand the unique issues facing your business and to contribute to the success of your team. Below are some ways you can improve your business acumen and set yourself apart from the crowd:


Learn the key financial performance drivers of your business

Gain insight into the specific drivers of your business’s financial success. Understanding what factors drive the performance of your company allows you to prioritize and focus your efforts on what creates the greatest impact. This improves the efficiency of your work and displays your ability to contribute to your company’s financial success.


Understand the role and responsibilities of the key leaders of your organization.

Observe the top-tier leadership team and become familiar with their roles. Understand their daily duties and what is expected of them. This will give you a clear insight into what the business demands from its leaders. If you want to be in a leadership position one day you will gain valuable insights into what skills you will need and what will make you successful.

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Develop a strong understanding of your organization’s business strategy and how you can impact it.

Your organization’s business strategy is what drives the decisions, processes and operations of your entire company. Understanding where you can contribute will maximize your value. Know what vision, mission and values are important to your organization. Know what markets are being targeted, which are performing well and which are not. Know how the overall strategy fits into your role specifically. 


Get a mentor or coach

Working with a mentor or coach will significantly speed up your professional development. You will learn from more experienced professionals and gain access to valuable resources. Consider working with a coach that specializes in your area of expertise or approach someone you admire and respect within your organization to build a relationship with. Such assistance is invaluable to improving your career progression and your business acumen. 


Learn how to drive your personal brand.

Consistency, clarity of vision, authenticity and impact are key components of building a successful personal brand. A strong personal brand leaves no room for misjudgment of your intentions and motivations. When you are clear on your personal brand, others will be clear on who you are and what value you can add. Work on developing and communicating a strong and authentic personal brand and you will instantly stand out.  


Develop a strong understanding of your industry’s competitive dynamics.

Gain a clear understanding of how your company intends to act in competitive business environments. What are your company’s competitive advantages and unique selling points? Knowing how your company plans to strengthen its competitive position within its market will significantly enhance your business acumen and give you an insight into the most critical elements of the business strategy. 


Learn how to manage your time, energy and attention.

Understand how to become efficient at managing your resources. There are more potential distractions than ever at work today, particularly in your home office. Know where your weaknesses lie and how to avoid them. Know where you become distracted and overstimulated and how to manage and minimize the triggers. 

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In conclusion

The importance of business acumen in career progression is undeniable. With 93% of IT and business executives experiencing a talent gap that prevents business transformation, displaying good business acumen will give you a significant edge when interviewing for new roles and promotions. Get ahead of your peers by investing in your business acumen and career development with personalized coaching programs. CoachHub’s professional coaches provide numerous leaders with help developing their business acumen every day and we can help you too.

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CoachHub is the leading global talent development platform that enables organisations to create a personalised, measurable and scalable coaching programme for the entire workforce, regardless of department and seniority level. By doing so, organisations are able to reap a multitude of benefits, including increased employee engagement, higher levels of productivity, improved job performance and increased retention. CoachHub’s global pool of coaches is comprised of over 3,500 certified business coaches in 90 countries across six continents with coaching sessions available in over 60 languages. Serving more than 1,000 clients worldwide, CoachHub’s innovative coaching programs are based on proprietary scientific research and development from our Innovation Lab. CoachHub is backed by leading tech investors, including Sofina, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Molten Ventures, Speedinvest, HV Capital, Partech and Silicon Valley Bank/SVB Capital. CoachHub is committed to creating a greener future and is a certified carbon neutral company since 2022.
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