by Guest Blogger – Kim Tran

Having started working this year, one of the biggest things I have learned is the importance of commercial acumen skills and I have realised, with a slight tinge of annoyance, this skill is not something they teach you at university. Developing the ability to think commercially, in terms of risk and cost allocation, developing strategic relationships, dealing with business proposals, and applying commercial expertise to achieve your desired business outcomes is something I believe is just as important as developing your physical, emotional and academic skills.

Many students finish formal education equipped with the knowledge gained through their course however few come out with strong commercial acumen. Many people may be highly skilled in their field of expertise whether it be the arts, engineering and sciences, marketing, infrastructure etc however being commercially astute in addition to their expertise can propel them to new heights in their career as well in as their personal finances. I have recently read an interesting article about business acumen in the arts industry which is a great example – the ‘struggling artist’ image often portrayed in media, books and film is not just a fictional story but a harsh reality for many artists today. It boils down to the fact that despite that they may be exceptionally talented, many artists earn below the median income as unfortunately they are not commercially-savvy enough to reap the rewards of their work.

There is no quick way to learn it – the best way to develop commercial acumen is through experience, as well having as the right support, training and mentoring. I am not saying that I have superstar commercial acumen skills now – in fact quite the opposite as I am still learning the ropes – however it is something I am making a conscious effort to work on daily by constantly analysing my own method of thinking and approach to my work. Developing sound commercial acumen skills is a crucial skill to have if you want to be successful in business.

What commercial acumen skills do you need and how do you learn them? I won’t go into them here as they have already summarised beautifully in the following BRS blogs:

10 tips to becoming a true commercial champion in Infrastructure and Engineering Consulting and Construction 

Commercial acumen for technical staff 

Good debt and bad debt in business – what does this really mean when looking to grow and improve your organisation? 

Contract variations – focussing on the cause rather than the symptoms