As sad as it is, when you take a look at reports on business success and failure across the world, you’ll soon see that many ventures don’t last past the five-year mark, and many entrepreneurs wind up in debt due to their idea not being a success.

As a result, it’s important for any person who is thinking about starting a business to do as much as possible before doors open to ensure their venture is around for the long term.

If you want to achieve rapid business growth, you should consider “hitting the books” and studying a variety of topics that will put you in good stead for a career as an entrepreneur. There are numerous areas you can study online or in person through an MBA or other relevant course, or you can read books, watch videos, check out blogs, attend workshops, utilize a mentor, and the like.

No matter your preferred study method(s), if you’re keen to give your business the best possible chance of success, read on for some ideal topics you should add to your shortlist today.
Guy handing off business card
Sales
Sales is one of the most important aspects of running a successful business. Even if you end up having a sales team in place or hire contractors to specifically work on this area for your venture, it is still important for you to be able to sell yourself and your company to others on a regular basis. As a result, it’s a good idea to study the topic to improve your skills in the area.

When you’re running a business, you will be involved in sales in many areas. For example, you might need to pitch your venture idea and plan to investors, banks or other lenders in order to get funding for the business. You will also need to:
• Negotiate with vendors
• Foster good relationships with employees, clients, journalists and other contacts
• Convince the best candidates to work for your enterprise and not your competitors
• Otherwise persuade people to agree to your requests

Finance
Finance is another area that all entrepreneurs should study up on. Again, while you may end up hiring an accountant or other advisor to help with your business accounts, it is vital that you can understand the fundamentals of finance too.

It is important for entrepreneurs to be able to understand:
• Where their business is at cashflow wise and what needs to be done to grow it
• How to read documents such as profit and loss statements, sales projections, balance sheets, funding options, and tax returns
• Where to see opportunities to cut costs and optimize efficiency

You will find that the more comfortable you can get with understanding all the financial aspects of your business, the simpler (and quicker) it will be for you to make all the important decisions about operating and growing your venture.

Leadership
Diane Steele, president of University of Saint Mary says, “If you plan to be the best business person possible and achieve outstanding success with your firm, it will be necessary for you to be familiar with effective leadership — that is, having the ability to lead, motivate, and influence the people within your venture towards a common purpose and goal.” Being a good leader doesn’t just refer to leading a group of employees, but also to being able to inspire other people associated with an organization, such as clients, investors, journalists, and the like.

There are many books and blogs you can read about leadership, but delving deep into the subject through a degree or comprehensive workshop will really help you to understand all the skills and qualities it takes to lead a team for the long-term.

There are many different elements involved in effective leadership. For starters though, you should learn how to:
• Delegate tasks to others
• Organize a team and coordinate workers who have different personalities and expertise levels
• Articulate a direction with regards to specific, measurable goals
• Convince people of an idea’s merits

Branding
Whether you’re about to launch a business or need to reinvigorate one, branding is likely to be a key element of your success and should be studied in depth. Be aware that branding for an entrepreneur doesn’t just cover the image for your business, but also your own personal brand.

Think about what is often involved in attracting top investors, clients, employees, and journalists to a business: It is the person at the helm, leading the venture. As such, you need to make sure that you have a well-regarded, positive brand in the marketplace. You want to be seen as reliable, knowledgeable, trustworthy, credible, and helpful, to name a few traits. It also helps to be seen as the expert in your field.

To increase and improve the brand recognition for yourself and your organization, it pays to be very clear about what it is that you really offer, and how that differs from competitors. It is best to make it evident within your branding the way in which you and your business solve a problem for others, or how it is that you provide a benefit.