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Business acumen allows you to understand your company’s overall strategy and how the company competes in the marketplace. It helps you speak the language of business. This lets you communicate with senior leaders in your company and show them that you’re aware of the issues they deal with daily. Developing business acumen shows others that you’re a business generalist, not a specialist – an important key to getting a promotion. One way to see how well you understand your company’s business is to see if you can answer 11 questions. For the most recent fiscal year end:

1. How much cash was on hand?


2. How much cash was generated from operating activities?

3. What was total net income?

4. What was the net profit margin?

5. What were total sales?

6. What was the inventory turnover rate?

7. What was the return on assets?

8. How much did sales grow over the previous year?

9. How much did net income grow over the previous year?

10. How much did Earnings per Share grow over the previous year?

11. How do all of the above compare to your competition?

The answers to these questions are in your company’s annual report. Study it and learn the answers, then you’ll be on your way to getting the promotion you want. If you still don’t get it, take a finance colleague to lunch and ask him or her to explain the answers to you.

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