It takes a lot of smarts to run a small business, but not just any smarts. Four specific mental skills, or "intelligences" will help make any entrepreneur more successful, according to Valeh Nazemoff, a management consultant and author of The Four Intelligences of the Business Mind.

"These intelligences help you identify opportunities for your business," she explains. Taken together, they form a solid base from which every small business owner can operate. Nazemoff advises using them to align your company's larger purpose and vision with the smart decisions you need to make to be successful every day.

1. Financial Intelligence

"Looking at the goals and purpose of your organization, where is your financial status?" Nazemoff asks. This might be sales goals, or a financial target you need to reach.

A closer look at many entrepreneurs' financial intelligence reveals a lot of fear of risk-taking she adds. "When start diving down, you realize a lot of financial decisions have to do with trust. Do you trust the data you have, or the people who gave you that information? Do you trust yourself to make an impactful decision? A lot of people are afraid."

One way to get past excessive fear of risk is to look at the possible reward, and consider what's motivating you, she advises. "I may have an opportunity that's worth $1 million but I know I have to spend $50,000 to pursue it and I'm afraid of that. One way to be more confident is not just to look at your fear, but also your purpose."

2. Customer Intelligence

Who are your customers? No business can survive without a good answer to this question, and the better you understand your customers, the more successful you're likely to be. So Nazemoff suggests creating specific personas for your target customers.

"What does my ideal customer actually look like?" she says. "What's their name, what do they drive? Where would they hang out? What events do they go to?" She recommends creating up to three of these personas, and getting as detailed about them as you can. "You can drill down to what kind of coffee they drink," Nazemoff adds. This understanding will guide you in determining how to approach these customers and how to market to them most effectively.

3. Data Intelligence

Data intelligence is the ability to understand your company's internal metrics. How are you performing against your plans and goals? Now that you've identified your ideal customer, do you have the resources you need to properly serve that customer? If your data shows that the best place to reach your customers is social media, do you have the skills and the content to do that effectively? What can you learn about your business by gathering as much information as you can?

4. Mastermind Intelligence

This is the skill of being able to look at the big picture, strategize, and brainstorm. "Get your internal team involved," Nazemoff advises. "It's important to have brainstorming sessions that are non-judgmental, where no idea is a bad idea. One bad idea can trigger a positive thought for someone else."

Take the results of your brainstorming and evaluate them by running them through the first three intelligences. For instance, Nazemoff says, "Something might seem like a good financial opportunity, and it might look like a good way to reach customers. But your data intelligence may tell you it will take too many resources to support."

What next? "You keep repeating the cycle, identifying opportunities and evaluating them," Nazemoff says. "None of these are a one-time process--you should be doing it continually."

Published on: Dec 24, 2014