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10 Traits a Good Business Owner Should Have
Owning a business is something most people are not cut out for, and subsequently never experience. It’s something that is extremely challenging, but oh so rewarding. There is no feeling quite like coming up with an idea, turning it into a product, and watching people ask (and sometimes beg) to buy it. That’s right; people spend their own hard earned money on a product you helped create. Unfortunately, there is a reason 50% of businesses fail in their first year and 95% fail within the first five years. This is because turning an idea into a business is not as easy as one, two, three. It is something that most people do not have the necessary skill set to do. I have assembled a list of the 10 traits a business owner should have in order to be successful. If you follow these traits and live them out in your everyday life, you too can be a successful business owner.
1) Strong Work Ethic
If you think owning a business is a reason to do what you want when you want – you’re wrong. Business owners are constantly working. On average, I am in the office 14 hours a day, and working a solid 20 hours a day. No one is there to tell you what to do, so if you want to expand your business it starts and ends with you. You have to decide what will be best for the company at any given point in time. If there is one trait every business owner should have, it is a strong work ethic. It may be hard to get out of bed at 4:30am sometimes, but just note that a competitor may be getting out of bed at 3:30am. If you don’t take a deliberate approach to working hard and smart, you never will.
2) Strategic Vision
Every business owner needs to have a strategic vision. Over the years I have learned that it comes more naturally to some than it does others. A strategic vision is saying, “We will be in industry X providing service Y and in order to do that we need resource Z.” It’s easy to say you want to be the largest supplier of paper for the banking industry, but the hard part is finding a way to do so and then actually doing it. I hear ideas everyday. People are always saying, “wouldn’t it be cool if you could have an automatic lock for your house, similar to that of a car”, and my answer is yes, it would be cool; now how would you manufacture that, test the market, set a price point, secure a distribution channel, sell and ship it to customers, integrate it into their house and so on. The list goes on forever because there will always be a strategy. The good news is that if you have a strategic vision, all of these questions can be answered very easily.
3) Ability to Listen
You don’t know it all. The minute that you think you know it all is the minute your business will fail. You should be an expert in your industry and you should know your business inside and out, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that you cannot learn from others who may know less than you. Great business owners listen to their customers, employees, shareholders, etc. I mean, we have busy schedules; we surely cannot be in every place all the time. If you cannot learn to listen to everyone around you (your eyes and ears) then your business is doomed from the start. Don’t confuse the word “hear” with the word “listen”; there is a big difference. Does it really matter if you merely hear what people are saying? Congratulations, you have used one of you five senses. That matters not. What truly matters is the ability to listen to what people are saying, analyze it and integrate it into your business model, product, methodology, etc.
4) Ability to Learn
You’re always learning. The best trait to have is the ability to learn other traits. Our world is changing rapidly, information is ever increasing, and there should be no reason as to why you are not learning something new every day. Remember when you would come home in grade school and your parents or grandparents would ask you what you learned that day, and your reply was always “nothin”? Well, get out of that state of mind. The correct answer should be so lengthy that the person that asked you won’t make the mistake of doing it again. Never stop reading. Never stop listening. Never stop learning.
5) Ability to Network
Face it; you can’t do everything on your own. You need to recruit the right people to get the job done. You need to recruit the right investors to fund your business. You need to recruit the right customers to buy your product. This all stems from networking. Keep in mind that a warm lead is much better than a cold lead. Think about it, who is more likely to buy your product; some guy on the street, or a friend of a friend? Who is more likely to join your team; the clerk at Starbucks, or your roommates’ brother? When you have the ability to network and spread your word, it’s going to be a lot easier to preform critical functions of your business. Almost every great business owner can network any room to the full extent, and this is what you should strive for.
One of the most overlooked traits of a good business owner is honesty. Every good business owner is honest to his customers, employees, shareholders, and everyone else. The best thing you can do for your business is create a good reputation by being honest. Everyone knows there is no such thing as sunny skies all the time, and that you’re only human. I have found that you gain more respect informing people of hard times (and having a strategy to combat those times) than ignoring them. Most customers’ understand that products need improvements and that distributors get delayed. Being honest and forthcoming about your dealings will not only please everyone now, but it will keep them coming back in the future.
Face it. Hard times come more often and hurt way worse than easy times. It’s the ability to turn a seemingly negative situation into an opportunity that defines a true entrepreneur. You can give me any situation – literally any situation – and I can turn it into something good, and positive happening, an opportunity. Even more important than having an optimistic outlook, is believing it. I have had countless “bad things” happen to me in life and throughout business, but I don’t remember half of them. This is not because they were not bad circumstances, in fact almost every one of them could have toppled our business right there, it’s simply because I turned them into opportunities and didn’t remember the once existing threat. You have to be in a positive mindset all the time. Have you ever heard anyone say, “If I can do it, you can”? Well, there is a reason for that. No one truly knows if they’re well equipped enough to run a business. The only way you know is to get out there, do it, and be optimistic in the process.
Having the ability to be creative and think outside the box is invaluable. Everyone who runs a business should be able to think of solutions to problems that no one has thought of before. I am not talking strictly about product development. I am talking about sales, marketing, managing, finances, accounting, distribution, etc. There will always be a problem somewhere. It’s having the ability to come up with a solution that has not previously existed that is so valuable in business.
Lets face it; you’re the one doing everything. You are the brains behind the operation, the customer service, and the lead sales guy. Have some confidence in yourself, your company, and the future. I always say that if you don’t believe in yourself, why should I? If you don’t think you’re capable of running a company, securing funding, and pleasing customers then why should I?
10) High Stress Tolerance
Surprisingly, running a company is a bit stressful at times. From reporting to investors to satisfying customers, it’s not always a walk in the park. You have to know how to let things go and prioritize. That means addressing the most pressing tasks first. There is a reason most successful people are a few days if not weeks behind on their emails; it’s because they know how to prioritize. Stress is a part of our everyday life, having the ability to endure that stress is something that is truly valuable.
Written by Rich Rodman, CEO and Co-founder at Crowdentials
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