Six Traits of successful (and effective) business owners

Contributed by MRSB Consulting Services

Being your own boss can be tough. Especially in a competitive, 24-hours-a-day corporate world, having a set of standards to live by as an entrepreneur is critical to the success of both your business and yourself.

There are lots of ideas out there about what makes some companies flourish while others fail, and of course there is no foolproof formula to guarantee money in the bank and a smile on your face. That being said, having worked with owners who've wildly succeeded and those who are still reaching for success, we can confidently say that the following factors play a big role in how you and your business perform.


1. Believe in what you sell

For some, it’s hard to believe that anyone would start out selling a product or service that he or she didn’t believe would benefit customers. But as countless infomercials and expensive product add-ons have proven, this is fairly common practice. While there are some who make a fortune selling shoddy products or shady investments, luck tends to run out as soon as the masses catch onto the havoc these people play on our trust and our wallets.

The truly successful entrepreneur grows his trade over time, forgoing quick cash grabs for a devoted client base that is willing to shout your praises from the rooftops. This only comes when you as owner create a quality product or service via hard work and deeply-held beliefs about the benefits you offer consumers.

Read this article about Apple CEO Tim Cook for further thought on the importance of believing in what you sell.

2. Remain client-centric

Why do you own your own business? If your answer is, “Because I hate desk jobs” or, “Because I wanted to be financially free by age 45,” then you’re probably being honest. But your thinking isn’t necessarily in line with what actually drive success. It’s one of the most straightforward but oft-forgotten rules of business ownership: Your business exists for your customers, period.

The right answer to the question above is along the lines of, “I’m in business because I offer a service that my competitors don’t offer, and which my target market needs.” Simply listening to what customers have to say about what you’re selling can go a long way in ensuring you are giving people what they need. The best part is that most consumers will pay a little more for something they know is a cut above the rest.

So send out that survey, email your loyal clientele to get their input and at each stage of business development think, “What would my best customer think of this decision?”

3. Consistently take initiative

You probably heard it at least once during the course of your education, whether grade school or university: “Take more initiative!” It’s an important lesson for students, and just as critical for business owners.

To truly take initiative means to turn one’s ideas and intentions into action. It can be all too easy to sit on our heels or defer to someone else’s judgment, but as captain of your own ship it is imperative that you own your decisions, and make them before the chance – whatever it may be - passes you by.

The rewards of following this rule? Heightened awareness of opportunities, ability to confidently seize them and a sense of mastery over your fears. Enough said!

4. Maintain cash flow

As much as a good attitude and willingness to take risks matter in business, we still measure much of our success in terms of how much disposable income we bring in month to month.

You don’t need to be an accountant or financial advisor to attract cash and manage it properly. There are a few basic rules you can start with, such as keeping 10 to 20 percent of your monthly revenues on-hand for future reinvestment, understanding your profit margins, negotiating optimal payment terms with vendors and monitoring your inventory turnover levels. Each of these and other tactics will ensure you are doing all you can to optimize how cash flows into, and out of, your business.

5. Know when to delegate (and find the best ones)

Sometimes the best way to do something is to not do it at all. That is, find someone who is better equipped than you to complete important tasks. We know; you started this thing and you know your own business inside and out. But there are numerous reasons why delegation is often the best course of action.

Finding someone with expertise in areas like financial management or advertising can save you hours of unnecessary work. And if you think you have to pay someone for the 50 hours it would have taken you to complete a task outside your normal realm, consider the fact that an expert has been doing this type of work for far longer than you have and should be considerably more efficient at it.

Effective delegation also allows you to focus on areas of your business where your efforts and input truly make a difference – management hiring decisions and long-term strategy come to mind. The point is, you’re good at lots of things, so let someone else fill in the gaps.

6. Strategize and prioritize

We might be a tad biased on this topic, seeing as a large part of our business is made up of strategy related consulting engagements. It doesn’t erode the importance of putting your goals down on paper, however.

A business plan is the foundation on which all major decisions can be bounced against over the course of several years. By clearly outlining your goals, resources and mandate, and then sharing that with all stakeholders, you set yourself up for long-term success versus playing things by ear. A strategic plan takes things a step further, honing in on what it takes – in precise detail – to make sure a set of specific goals is reached within a certain timeframe.

Do yourself a favour and draft your business plan now. It will save you time and provide focus when you really need it.

So that’s our rundown of what makes for a successful, effective business owner. There are plenty of other traits that will make or break your success, and we’re sure that as an entrepreneur you’ve already got what it takes. For more information on any of the service areas provided by MRSB Consulting Services, feel free to visit our Team page and contact an advisor.