NEW YORK — As business owners begin to realize that their businesses aren’t the same after they sell, they’re also realizing that their customers are often more important than the companies themselves, experts say.
Businesses that aren’t prepared to take the lead and create a thriving culture will often find themselves on the outside looking in, said Tom Riddell, director of the Business Skills Institute at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
While the U.S. is the largest economy in the world, it’s the fourth-largest in the United Nations, and the second-largest economy in Asia, Riddel said.
It’s not surprising that business owners and executives need to develop the skills and the culture to take on the challenges of a changing world, he said.
But as businesses and the people who manage them face new challenges, the demand for business education is rising, Riddle said.
“Business leaders are facing the most difficult economic times in history,” Riddoll said.
“Businesses have to understand that if they don’t do something, if they fail to innovate, if their culture is not set in place, then they will fail.”
Riddell said the business education that many businesses need will depend on how the country evolves.
In the United States, the education is needed in a few key areas: leadership, teamwork, leadership skills, the ability to communicate effectively, communication, and understanding of customer needs.
The focus on leadership skills is a key focus of the U-M business school, Riddles said.
Students learn to identify and address challenges in leadership, as well as develop the knowledge and skills to help others succeed, he added.
“If you look at the world as a whole, leadership is a critical part of the fabric of a successful society,” Riddle explained.
“There are times when leadership is required and there are times it is not, but that is a business decision, and if you don’t have a leadership style, you won’t be able to be successful in a market,” he added, referring to the role that management plays in business.
“But we’re not talking about just the leadership of the business, we’re talking about the business that is managing that business,” Riddles added.
For students to be effective, they need to be able “to understand the customer’s goals and the customer needs,” he said, and they need the knowledge to “communicate effectively” and “think creatively.”
“The key is understanding what you’re asking customers to do, and how they can make those decisions,” Riddler said.
Students also need to have the right tools for communicating with customers, such as digital marketing and social media tools, Riddler added.
The U-Mass business school also uses an online course called the Business Leadership Institute, which is taught by business owners.
“The students learn from one of the best business leaders in the country, and that’s Bob Vinnik,” Rivenll said.
Vinnick has been an adviser for the UMass business schools since 1997, and he has been a consultant for several business schools in New England.
“Bob is the person who is doing the most research on what business owners need to learn and how to do that, and I think that’s what we want to be doing, is learning from him, and making sure we’re doing the best we can to support his work,” Rijnnen said.
To learn more about the Business Leaders Institute, click here to view a list of courses offered at the school.