What are the traits of a Successful Entrepreneur?


Do you have the make-up of a successful entrepreneur?  You might be surprised at what’s really important if you’re looking to create a long term business.

Brad Johnson of FranchiseSmartKC shared an interesting study in his latest newsletter on the traits that are shared by successful entrepreneurs.  The study was done by the Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute and was released back in June after they had interviewed over 1100 small business owners with the idea of identifying the traits that make up a success oriented small business owner.

Unfortunately there are no absolute roadmaps to success that would apply to everyone (no silver bullets), but this kind of study cangive you some directional ideas of things you should be thinking about.  Read on and let me know your thoughts.

The study looked at 60 different factors, which summarized down to 6 dimensions or traits of business owners who were projecting significant growth in 2009.

The 6 Dimensions of a Success Oriented Small Business Owners

Here’s the summary from the report, with my comments after each trait:

Collaborative:  Success-oriented small business owners understand how to delegate effectively to others within their business as well as build strong personal relationships with their management team, employees, consultants, vendors and customers. They are more committed “to creating opportunities for others.”

You can’t win by yourself and you have to find ways to make things win-win for everyone around you.  Get help from a coach, a mentor, consultants, a mastermind group – this was reinforced to me recently at the discussion from the co-CEOs at U.S. Toy, who credited much of their success to finding ways to partner with others

Self-Fulfilled:  Success-oriented small business owners place a high value on the personal fulfillment and gratification that their companies provide them, relishing the self-determination and respect that comes from being their own boss and being in control of their personal income and long-term net worth. They are more desirous of “doing something for a living that I love to do,” “being able to decide how much money I make” and “being able to have the satisfaction of creating something of value.”

You need to be driven by something more than just a paycheck – the small businesses that are really successful have a purpose and shared core values that really drive what they do.

Future-Focused: Planning for both the short- and long-term future are key traits that characterize success-oriented small business owners. They are more focused on cash flow and more likely to have “a well thought out plan to run our business for years into the future” as well as “a well thought out plan to run our business day to day.”

Life (and business) moves fast – you have to some idea of where you’re going and  you’d better have some plans.  There’s always room for improvisation and reacting to the market, but you’ll get a lot farther if you have some idea of where you’re going!

Curious:  Success-oriented small business owners are more open to learning how others run their businesses. They actively seek best practice insights regarding management, business innovation, prospecting and finding/motivating/retaining employees.

There have been a lot of studies that show the most successful people are constantly learning.  Even when things are going well, there are always new things you can pick up, new ways to sharpen the saw and learn from others.

Tech-Savvy:  Technology is a key point of leverage for success-oriented small business owners. They more intensely value their company’s website and are significantly more likely to “rely a great deal on technology to help make our business more effective and more efficient.”

There was probably a time 10 years ago (or more) where technology didn’t really matter that much for most business owners.  As long as you had the basics…which didn’t change much, you’d be okay.  Clearly those days are long past – as an example, Social Media for business may not be a silver bullet, but you better have an online presence or you’re not going to last long.

Action-Oriented:  Finally, success-oriented small business owners are more proactive in taking initiative to build their businesses. They are more committed to “taking the business to the next level,” “differentiating ourselves from our competitors” and “having something to sell when I’m ready to retire.” They also see adversity as “a kick in the rear to help move you forward.” Not surprisingly, they are less concerned than other small business owners about the overall state of the economy.

There’s a big difference between reacting and waiting for things to happen and going out and making something happen.  If you’re not creating positive momentum, creating a wake in your business, then you may be in trouble.

You can find the complete study to download here: Success Oriented Small Business

Which of these resonates with you?  Do you think any of them don’t fit?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – share in the comments below!

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach