Popular media would have us believe that the legendary entrepreneurs are born that way, concocting profitable deals with their schoolmates from a young age, and that you either have those elusive qualities or you don’t. I disagree.
From what I have experienced over the years, you can acquire the qualities of those successful business owners, if you want to.
Speaking in depth with over 100 Corporate Crossovers® (women who leave their jobs to start their own business) and having worked with as many as clients over the years as a business mentor, I have discerned that they share common traits, which make them and their business ventures successful.
Certain personality traits increase the chances of success
It is these commonly recurring personality aspects that enhance their chances of success. Of course, it is essential to have a great idea for your business that people will pay for, and buy again and again.
Equally important to that is your ability to run a business. It is not just enough to be able to create gorgeous flower arrangements to be a successful florist, you also need to run a business to support that talent.
There are two components to running a business:
- the external skills, sales, marketing, finance, operations etc
- the internal attributes
Running a business well requires the fundamental elements you would expect in business management, such as; marketing, selling, managing the finances and other tasks.
These skills can all be learned, and there are a plethora of books and courses available. You may also decide that the investment required acquiring the skill is not worth it, so you can outsource to a better-qualified resource.
Your behaviour is critical
The internal traits are more important, as these will make the biggest difference to the success of your business. These will determine how you behave. And it is your behaviour that will determine your outcomes.
Internal drivers are rarely discussed for business owners, yet when they are explored, self awareness increases and you can then explore how you might best utilise them. Consider how your personal traits may come into play in these instances:
- How much you will persevere to get a meeting with a buyer from a large retailer to show them your products, three phone calls, or a call everyday for three months until finally you get through?
- How do you recover from set backs, when a supplier delivers the wrong components for an urgent Christmas order for a retail customer, do you pack it up, jump in the car and sort it out, driving through the night, or do you throw your hands up, and miss the delivery deadline?
- Your biggest client decides to change suppliers, and you lose the business. Do you decide it’s a sign, to close up, or you investigate what went awry and alter your services to ensure it won’t happen again
From my work with hundreds of business owners and the research I have completed, I know that to run a business successfully, you need to have a mix of qualities that will enable you to nurture and drive your business from start up to solid performance.
Seven essential qualities for business success
Whilst working on my book, “My new business – a busy woman’s guide to start up success”, I spoke to 50 successful Corporate Crossovers®. From these interviews, and my work with business owners over the years, I distilled the seven essential qualities for success in business.
This is the fire in your belly, total and utter belief that what you are doing will be a success. You are passionate about your business idea, and the impact it will have on those that use it.
Passion will fuel you. As you travel through the peaks and troughs of the journey to create your business, the passion for your idea will pull you through the tough times and keep you motivated.
You will be working on this business, like it or not, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether or not you are physically sitting down and working, your thoughts will be occupied by your business. It becomes all consuming, so you better love what you do!
Equally important is to be passionate about running your own business. Passionate about being in charge, making the decisions and operating a business.
Having your own business is not a job, you will put more of your heart and soul into it than you thought possible. Like it or not, you have to approach it as a new way of life. If you don’t give it 100%, you will only earn an income, never build a business. Building a business requires you to constantly stretch and challenge yourself.
Tenacity and resilience are qualities related with determination. The determination to make their business a success, to persevere when it seems that luck is against them, to do whatever it takes to build the business.
Many people may begin businesses but those who succeed are those that keep persevering. It is not giving up at the first, third or even the tenth rejection but carrying on until you get what you want.
You know that a ‘yes’ is key to the success of your business and realisation of your passion, so you don’t give up until you get it.
Having utter conviction that your business deserves to be a success will drive your determination. When it is your own business and you need to create a sustainable income and business entity you will push yourself further than when you were employed. Getting what you want for your business becomes all encompassing.
Feeling confident that your business will work, that you will find a way through issues and always asking, “what if”, “could we do this?” Optimism is key in starting up a new business. You need to go into business expecting the best and even when the reality is different, find creative ways to overcome it and build on it.
Optimistic business owners reflect on their successes instead of their failures. They also look for the benefit and opportunities in every situation, thinking of their business goal and how can this situation enhance it. They will see opportunities where others won’t.
It’s worth remembering that whilst you can’t control what happens to you, you can control how you react to it. Optimism will enable you turn adversity into an opportunity and learn from it.
4. Customer love
Keeping your customers coming back for more is the easiest way to build your business. Putting them at the forefront of what you do is key to this. Thinking in your decisions, ‘what would the customers want?’ will ensure that you are building customer love.
Direct contact with customers and choosing who they would work with was a common enjoyment from all of the women I spoke to. They loved being in control of who they interacted with and being directly involved with them.
This feeds their desire to build strong relationships with their customers, and it is a natural part of their business strategy, not something enforced by adhering to metrics or service level agreements.
Valuing your customers with great service and consistently exceeding expectations enhances your business as you will build customer loyalty and reduce the likelihood of them switching from you to a competitor.
Opportunities are everywhere but you have to be fearless to grab them! Starting and running your own business will push and pull at every part of your comfort zone. You will have to put yourself out there in ways you haven’t imagined. There is no company brand to lean on anymore, no sales department to bring in the business. It is now completely up to you.
You need to be prepared to feel the fear when you start a business and get through it. If you are scared of something it just means that you’re being stretched out of what you have done before. Take a breath, consider if this is the best course of action for your business, and if so, then push your fear to one side and proceed.
Successful business owners have let go of many things. They have let go of that fear of rejection, the fear of being seen as too direct, the fear of selling and asking for the order. Once these fears have departed, they become tenacious, motivated and gain momentum.
Staying close to your customers also means that you are that much more informed about their needs and how the market may be shifting. In many cases the business you start may be different to one that you are running a few years later. The need to be nimble, to be observant is an essential quality.
Closer relationships to the customer also means faster and more accurate feedback loop for the business. Adjustments can be made quickly to better service customers, new product development cycle times are reduced as you act directly on feedback and the resultant opportunity.
It also allows you close and direct market intelligence, giving you an understanding of your competitors’ activities, market trends, dynamics and shifts, allowing you to adapt your business strategy accordingly.
7. Hard Work
When you are launching your business start-up you are creating something out of nothing. You are establishing a brand in a competitive market place, creating a presence, building a sales pipeline, getting prospects to know, like and trust you and your offering.
Starting up your own business can feel like you are working harder than ever before. You may be working longer hours than you have for some time, and earning far less money as you start to become established. Yet, all the business owners I have spoken to accept this trade off to be their own boss, and to bring their idea to the world.
Could you do it?
Reading through that list of seven essential qualities, what were you thinking? Did you recognise yourself and think, “This is me all over, I know I can succeed” or were you a little more circumspect, and felt that some of the qualities you had, and others were yet to fully flourish.
Take some time to reflect on how you compare with the seven essential qualities. We are so busy day to day, that we can neglect to think about our internal workings, and what drives us.
Remember, owning your own business is like an intense never-ending personal development course. Consider this reflection the pre-work.
This article has been written for ByteStart by Wendy Kerr, author of ‘Corporate Crossovers®; when it’s time to leave the office and start your own business’, and ‘My new business; a busy woman’s guide to start up success’.
Last updated - 7th October, 2017