Business Acumen: Ways You Can Build It

by whatsmind

Business acumen is fast becoming the most sought-after skill in the business world. The dictionary describes acumen as ‘keenness and depth of perception, discrimination, especially in practical matters. Business acumen can thus rightly be understood as the understanding of business circumstances in such a way so as to produce good business outcomes.

Not everyone can make the right decisions. Even though they might be smart enough in other areas, business acumen requires a perspective on a grander scale. Encouraging acumen among employees requires that the firm or company is open about their workings with them.

An employee should, first of all, be informed of his or her role in the organization and what is to be expected of them.

A thorough knowledge about the company’s clientele is beneficial for the employees as well, irrespective of the fact whether the concerned employees are in direct contact with the clients or not.

Most Fortune 500 companies invest heavily in developing business acumen in their employees, especially those whose job it is to make prescient predictions about the future of business—experts like financial analysts and accountants.

It’s not easy being a financial professional and having to make these predictions on almost a daily basis, which is the reason why these professionals are in high demand in today’s market. If you are looking to become a part of this elite group of financial and accounting experts, you’ll have to get certification by clearing the tough exams that are there to sift the good ones from the bad.

If you are attempting any such exam in the near future, you should look into using the course material on offer from the Wiley CMA, which is a study aid provider that guarantees to put you past the grueling exams.

Traits of a Person with Business Acumen

Experts have identified several discerning traits that employees with proper business acumen possess. They can be broadly classified as:

  1. The ability to take the right decision at the right time
  • A realistic view of the organization in all its dimensions. ‘Observing the big picture’ is a phrase that defines an employee’s ability to look at things happening presently with foresightedness. An employee with acumen observes the following:
  1. What are the operating procedures of the business?
  • Who is the company dealing with? This entails a good knowledge of all the vendors, customers, and anyone else in between.
  • How is the revenue generated and what are the expense centers within and outside of the organization?
  • What is the goal of each department in the company, and how do they influence each other?
  • What are the factors affecting the profitability of the company internally and externally? An employee possessing good business acumen would diligently stop and correct his compass before leading the company astray. Remember, to pause and update the course intermittently.
  • What are the company’s overall goals? The company, on the whole, has goals of its own that it wants its employees to achieve.

     c.  Discerning departmental choices and how they would later affect business. A true visionary will plan and execute a decision like a chess grandmaster, with the foresight of the outcomes for all the company stakeholders

     d. Be future-ready. A well-reputed cell phone manufacturer vanished from the market despite remaining ahead of all competition for several years.

Their only mistake was that they thought themselves beyond any sort of improvement. “Why evolve when you are already perfect?” is how they saw it.

Steps to ensure your employees have the business acumen

  1. Formal skill training. The company should routinely share tactical business goals and how each individual should contribute toward achieving these goals. Getting the experts to talk to your employees in company-organized seminars and workshops can help the employees gain the right skills easily.
  • Extensive customer knowledge. What does the customer expect from the company? What should the company expect from the customer? In what ways can the customer be retained for repeat business? Answering these questions will greatly expand your employees’ knowledge base.
  • Brief your employees on how the business generates revenue and what role do the employees play on a grander scale of business success.
  • Input from the employees. Different minds think differently about the same problems. Allowing the employees to express themselves freely on the issues facing the organization can help them feel more responsible for their role.
  • Corporate training in developing business acumen. Hiring services that train your employees in incorporating a positive business attitude is the norm in today’s fast-paced business world. All companies should make such training a necessary part of employee education.
  • Exchange of ideas across all departments allows for infiltration of fresh ideas in an otherwise closed-off environment. Frequent collaboration and idea exchange helps cultivate creativity and problem-solving.
  • Cross-training, another excellent method of fostering organizational knowledge among the employees is when an employee is temporarily stationed in another department to learn how the colleagues from that department perform their jobs.


A profitable company is like a well-oiled machine, with all its parts working efficiently in their own capacity as well as in conjunction with each other. Employees working in one department may increase the output of an unrelated department, all due to their business-savvy attitude.

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