Essential Qualities for Owners
You can still be successful even if you don't possess every skill needed to
run a small business. There are, however, certain qualities that you should
possess if you're to be successful. Let's take a look at them:
- Willingness to sacrifice — you must be willing to accept the fact
that, as a small business owner, you are the last one to be paid. Your bank,
your vendors, and your employees are all in line ahead of you and must be
paid before you see any of the money. You must also be willing to sacrifice
much of what once was your free time to your business. If you like working
nine-to-five, knowing how much you'll make, and taking three weeks of
vacation every year, don't go into business for yourself.
- Strong interpersonal skills — if you thought that getting along
with your boss was tough, wait until you have to deal with suppliers,
customers, employees, lawyers, accountants, government officials, and
everybody in between. Successful owners are able to work with all
personality types, and they're able to find out from their customers what
they like and don't like.
- Strong leadership skills — successful owners understand that
others are looking to them to be led to the promised land. Others will be
looking to you for answers, and if you're not ready for that responsibility,
you probably shouldn't own your own business.
- Strong organizational skills — successful owners are able to keep
track of everything that's going on in their business and they're able to
set priorities and get things done. They know that if they lose track of
what's going on, they're sunk.
- Intelligence — we're not talking about the ability to score well
on standardized tests. We're talking more about street smarts and common
sense. Successful owners are able to anticipate problems before they arise
and to take preemptive steps to avoid them, and they know how to solve
crises after they occur.
- Management ability — small business is all about managing
relationships, with your customers or clients, with your employees, with
your suppliers, with your accountant and lawyer, with your banker, and with
your family. If you don't think you can effectively manage those
relationships, you shouldn't start a new business.
- Business experience — without some solid business experience,
you're probably not going to be able to borrow any money. Your banker will
want to know about your experience, not just in business, but in the same
field as the business you're hoping to start. If you lack the experience, go
get it any way you can: volunteer at an existing business or try to get a
part-time or weekend job in the field.
- Optimism — how will you react when business isn't going as well
as your expected? A pessimist may fold the tent, but an optimist who
believes in the business will keep going. Successful owners are optimists
who are able to weather the rough spots.
Although the qualities listed above are important to a small business'
success, particularly to one just starting out, not every single owner of every
single successful business has had every single one of the desired qualities.
This suggests that there's hope for those who don't possess every quality. Maybe
one of these categories applies to you:
- The unique idea — if you've built a better mousetrap, they'll beat a
path to your door, even if you're a poorly organized pessimistic
- The genius — if you possess the gift of greatness, they'll not only
overlook your weaknesses, they'll revel in them.
- Blind luck — the Small Business Hall of Fame contains more than a few
stories of people who backed into success because of their incredibly good
Now that you've taken a look at your strengths and weaknesses, you can
consider how to compensate for