In order to successfully develop and implement a business concept, small business owners must possess various traits (and some would argue a degree of luck as well). Included among these are skills and talents which, when combined, allow the small business owner to execute their vision.
Similarly, when recruiting, small business owners evaluate the skills and talents of prospective employees to assess their fit with the business and the kind of contribution the employee is likely to make. But how does one distinguish between a skill and a talent, and why is it important to know the difference? At the most basic level a talent is regarded as an inherent ability (i.e. one is born with it), while a skill is regarded as a learned ability.
Both talents and skills can be honed with further training and coaching (e.g. through situational experiences in the workplace, further education) and can sometimes be indistinguishable in terms of the level of competence achieved.
They are also mutually reinforcing as a skill can be learned in a field or area in which one is talented. However, because talents are areas in which one has a natural aptitude for, individuals may find that less effort is required to develop a talent, and that they derive more enjoyment from activities or functions in which they are talented.
Knowing the difference between a skill and a talent can assist small business owners to identify talented high potential employees who can be taught the necessary skills to perform specific roles. It can also assist small business owners to better manage their employees by assigning them tasks and responsibilities they enjoy and have a natural flair for, building up employees’ self-esteem and enhancing their job satisfaction.
Understanding the difference between skills and talents can assist small business owners themselves in identifying the specific products and services their businesses should focus on, as the small business owners’ talents are likely to be the deciding factor (particularly in the early stages of the business). Doing what you are good at and intuitively understand makes good business sense, as other areas of expertise can be delegated or outsourced.
As part of their human resource management, small business owners should develop a customised plan to develop the skills and talents of each employee (and themselves). This may initially be time-consuming and even frustrating as most individuals tend to have a good understanding of what their skills are, but are not as insightful when it comes to their talents.
There also may not be a direct or obvious relationship between an identified talent and the needs of the business. Spending time on such an exercise will however yield long-term benefits such as a fully utilised workforce which makes the maximum possible contribution to the workforce, and low employee turnover.