9 Traits All Successful Business Owners Have

Posted in Executive Direction by Paul Hightower

Running a business isn’t for everyone. Many responsibilities come with it, and you should do some self-evaluation before you start. Thinking about your strengths (and weaknesses) will improve your odds of success. We all know that hard work is fundamental, but what else does it take to start a thriving business? I’ve identified 9 traits that I suggest ranking yourself on, using a 5-point scale:

1 = A clear problem spot and something that doesn’t come easily

2 = An area for improvement and one you’ve taken steps to strengthen

3 = You feel pretty ok about your ability at this trait. You know there is room for improvement but it’s not a critical area of concern

4 = You’re confident in your ability here. It’s one of your strengths and something you can use to your advantage

5 = Anyone who’s just met you would you know that you excel in this department. It’s been a core tool of yours for a long time

Here are the core traits to rank yourself on:

  1. Ambition – Your company is what gets you up in the morning and keeps you going. You’re focused on the short-term and long-term health of your company and determined to make it thrive.
  2. High energy and drive – You’re energetic and ready to get things done and motivate your team. You lead by example with passion and a strong work ethic.
  3. Motivated by results – Your taste for success is what motivates you. You’re driven by a desire to achieve results.
  4. Big thinker –You can see the proverbial forest for the trees; you don’t get lost in the nitty gritty. When lots of decisions come at you fast, you react quickly and consider long-term effects.
  5. Optimism – Failure is inevitable, but you don’t lose your focus when it happens. Your optimism helps you find the upside in failure, learn from it, and keep your team motivated. Your staff can look to you for strength and positivity in trying times, rather than having to manufacture it themselves.
  6. Resilience – An extension of #5. You bounce back when times get tough and don’t allow yourself to be derailed. Pity parties are rare, over very quickly, and never done in front of your team.
  7. Leadership skills – You’re firm when necessary, inspirational when the team is flagging, and empathetic to employees’ needs.
  8. Sound judgment – Your employees trust you to steer the ship and know you to be reliable in making good decisions. You consider multiple angles of a problem, evaluate the possibilities, and make tough choices, earning your team’s respect and admiration.
  9. Financial awareness – Even if you’re not a math whiz or an accountant, you’re fiscally responsible and diligent. You don’t let yourself get distracted by shiny objects or waste company money on the latest cool technology.

How’d you do? Remember, this is not meant to make you beat yourself up but illuminate potential areas for improvement. (Or hire someone who excels in areas you struggle!)

Once you’ve run though this list and ranked yourself, step back and think how your scores might be an advantage or disadvantage as you approach launching a business. If you’re not sensitive about some constructive criticism, ask a close friend or relative to evaluate you too. When you compare scores, you might discover a blind spot or an area that others perceive as a strength that you weren’t even aware of! Understanding yourself will give you a keener understanding of how to give yourself the best shot at success!

Which of these traits is hardest or easiest for you? Let us know on Twitter @ThePlanExpertsFacebook, or LinkedIn.


Paul Hightower is Masterplans' VP of Business Development.


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