How to Become More Business Savvy

What is Business Savvy

Business acumen (also known as “business savvy”) is the demonstration of good judgment and business sense, as well as the ability to understand business operations, market trends, the competition, and the bottom-line.

The Importance of Business Savvy

Did You Know? Aggregate data from SIGMA’s web traffic analysis indicates that business acumen is the second most clicked-upon skill in SIGMA’s Leadership Competency Framework.

How to Become More Business Savvy

Would you like to become more business savvy by developing your business acumen at work? Below are eight on-the-job activities you can use to help you get started. We strongly recommend that you do not try all of these at once; start by picking one activity and pace yourself from there. Depending on your schedule it might only be feasible to do one activity per week. Note that some activities will also need to be repeated over time in order for business savvy to become more ingrained in your judgment and become a part of your decision-making processes.

  1. Get to know your own organization. Speak with leaders at your company and ask them about your organization’s mission, vision, and values. What is the company’s strategic position? What are its strengths and weaknesses? What are its long-term goals?
  2. Research your organization’s industry and target market. Understand the drivers of your business and think about how the industry and market may change in the future.
  3. Get to know your industry’s competitive landscape. Who are your biggest competitors? What are their strategies? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  4. Allocate 15 minutes every morning reading the business section from your favorite news outlet. Pay attention to overarching trends and big changes.
  5. Cultivate a strong ethical compass and demonstrate good judgment in decision-making. Consider the long-term consequences and ethical implications of your actions.
  6. Read memoirs, biographies, or autobiographies of successful businessmen and women, or novels that explore case studies in business (financial crises, scandals, success stories, etc.).
  7. Volunteer for projects, committees, or teams that are in different departments of your organization; observe and learn from their processes and priorities.
  8. Practice your analytical and problem-solving skills by reading case studies and thinking through the decision-making process, or simply by playing things like brain games.

Download the Business Savvy Competency Guide

These tips are a part of SIGMA’s Business Acumen Competency Development Guide. Download the free PDF below for a complete list of tips and tricks for developing this critical leadership skill.

SIGMA Can Help

Since 1967, SIGMA consultants have helped thousands of organizations across North America develop their people potential and increase organizational effectiveness. Explore our assessments, coaching, and consulting services below, and contact us if you would like to speak about creating a custom plan for your organization. Develop your business savvy as a leader with SIGMA today.

Leadership Skills Profile –
Revised® (LSP-R)

Take our flagship leadership assessment and see how you score on business acumen.

Talent Development

Use SIGMA’s scientifically validated, industry-tested tools to give your talent development a strong start.

Coaching with a
SIGMA Consultant

Participate in one-on-one coaching with SIGMA’s expert consultants.

Looking for More?

If you would like to speak with a consultant about how to develop business acumen at your organization, contact us below. We would be happy to share what we’ve learned from client experience and talk about the specific needs of your organization and your team.

Glen Harrison is an organizational transformation consultant and succession planning expert. Over the course of his career, Glen has worked with one-third of the Fortune 500 list and with every level of government in Canada and the United States. Having worked with numerous clients to build robust succession plans from the ground up, Glen has extensive experience in the application of SIGMA’s products and services to help organizations realize their people potential.

1Graafland, J. (2002). Profits and Principles: Four Perspectives. Journal of Business Ethics, 35(4), 293–305.

About the Author

Helen Schroeder

Marketing Coordinator

Helen completed a dual degree with Ivey Business School’s HBA program and Western University’s Honours Specialization in Psychology. As a Marketing Coordinator and Consultant she creates and manages content for SIGMA’s webpages, blogs, and coaching resources. Helen also assists in new product development, go-to-market strategy, and client consultation.