The 5 Qualities of Successful Small Businesses 22 Apr 2019


In the last 40 years, despite declining failure rates, fewer small businesses are being started. Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. It requires wearing many different hats, long hours, and lots of work. To be successful in business, you need more than just a solid business plan; you need the qualities of a successful entrepreneur.  

Whether you’re considering starting your own business or you’ve been running one for years, here are five essential qualities to be a successful business owner from some of the most successful entrepreneurs.

1. Invest in Yourself and Your Business

“No one is superhuman, you can’t do everything. It’s about making the right choices for you at the right time. I made a commitment a long time ago, I’m at home for dinner with my family. We may not have good food, we might be having carry out, but it’s important that we’re together”. – Angie Hicks, Angie’s List

The business owner’s ability to see value in their work and well being is integral to both avoiding burnout and finding business success. Whether it’s money or time, investing in yourself throughout all phases of the entrepreneurial journey is necessary and mitigates burnout.

Investing in your business looks different depending on the market and the business owner. It could be enrolling in a course to brush up on your skills, a monetary investment into a new product or service, or setting aside time for yourself to practice self-care that allows you to rest and recharge. Seeing the value of these investments and prioritizing them is one sign of a successful business owner.  

2. An Eye for Growth and Opportunity

A successful entrepreneur is able to see room for growth in the current market or opportunities to create a new market entirely. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple computers and arguably one of the most innately innovative entrepreneurs, had a keen eye for growth opportunity. Jobs managed to look at market whitespace and not only lead one of the greatest company turnarounds of the 20th century but also revolutionize the tech industry.

Being able to recognize opportunities for development is one of Richard Branson, founder, and chairman of the Virgin Group’s greatest strengths. Branson describes his mindset as a constant pursuit for improvement which has been a driving factor in his innovative and expansive business ventures. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to cultivate the ability to look at the world critically, see opportunities for improvement, and find solutions.

3. Self-motivation, Discipline, and Persistence

Staying motivated, especially in the face of many obstacles, is not always an easy task. Entrepreneurs like Milton Hershey, founder of the Hershey chocolate company, Ariana Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, or James Dyson, founder of the Dyson vacuum, failed or were rejected many times before succeeding.

If you’re working on something you love or are passionate about, odds are these things will likely come naturally. Most often, when people struggle with motivation, discipline, or persistence, it’s because there is a disconnect between the person and the work. To push through the challenges, you have to be connected and personally invested in your work.

4. Surround Yourself With People That Know More Than You Do

Small business owner consulting with a team of experts at a coffee shop

In the words of motivational speaker Jim Rohn, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Surrounding yourself with a diverse team, whether culturally or in terms of skillsets or experience, leads to higher revenues. No one person can perform all the tasks necessary to run a business at a high level on their own. A successful entrepreneur is honest with themselves when it comes to their capabilities. They’re able to ask, “Am I the best person to complete this task, or can someone else do a better job?” Outsourcing is a great way to bring in instant expertise and to ensure that various areas of your business are completed both effectively and efficiently.

5. Learn How to Fail Forward

Arianna Huffington has reframed failure as a stepping stone to success instead of the opposite and attributes a lot of her success to this shift in mindset. Risk is an inherent component of starting a business, and no one is a stranger to the fear of failure. Success requires that you reframe your relationship with failure and instead use it as an agent to propel you and your business forward. This means learning from your mistakes and applying the lessons learned from failure to your business.

A Strong Leader Means a Stronger Brand and Company Culture

As an entrepreneur, not only are you the leader, you are the company’s number one role model. Persistence, resilience, and the ability to see the value of investing in yourself and your business are vital. Successful business owners who continually work to improve their business, product, and team better serve their employees and business.