Common Traits of Successful Small Business Leaders

While four out of five start-ups fail within five years, successful entrepreneurs often have common traits or habits.

Our company, Information Strategies, Inc., recently asked more than 100 presidents, experts, and advisors to contribute to our new book, RECALCULATING.  Among the things we asked were their thoughts on what were the traits they found most common to their success.

The results surprised some when they heard them, but after reflection seem logical.

Among them were:

·         Passion and commitment

·         Understanding the importance of customer service

·         Attention to the bottom-line

·         Choosing the right employees and partners

·         Ability to bounce back from adversity

·         Balancing work/life commitment

Let’s examine each in turn.

Passion and Commitment: This was the most cited factor in their success quotient.  From JD Powers to Marcus Lemonis almost all contributors felt it was most important to successful leadership.  Without these two ingredients, any effort to lead a successful operation falls flat.  Without passion and commitment and the ability to communicate this to staff, customers and partners, little can be accomplished especially in a company’s first years.

Customer Service: Despite the headlong rush into online media, companies still need to establish trust between buyer and seller.  As John Sculley said: “Customer focused marketing is one of key factors in small business success.  Consumers talk, listen to, search out and ultimately comment to others.  Small business leaders must also have a curious and open mind focused on the customer.  To be truly successful.”

Attention to the Bottom-Line: A majority of failing businesses do so because they do not focus on finances.  Mike Kotsis CEO, GPS for Small Business argues “no issue is more important than the one so many entrepreneurs and business owners fall short of mastering, that of being focused.”  He and others feel many entrepreneurs do not realize the importance of insuring there is enough monies in hand to keep the company going.

Choosing the Right People: Marcus Lemonis put it simply. “Hire the right people who are smarter than you and can balance whatever weak points you may have.”  Almost all leaders said they did not succeed without the help of committed employees.  The right partners are a positive reflection and extension of your business; they can further your success.

Overcoming Adversity: Many of our respondents agreed with Winston Churchill’s  who said his success came after a series of failures.  Adversity hits all companies in one form or another.  How the organization and especially its leaders deal with those setbacks is a key factor in long term viability.  As many people say: “When life deals you lemons, make lemonade.”

Balancing Life/Work: Perhaps the most difficult factor affecting small business leaders and employees is stress.  Many entrepreneurial leaders are committed 24/7 to their businesses.  As a result, they also put added pressure on their staffs.  One of the key elements of success is learning to balance work/life experiences.  This was the conclusion of most of our contributors.

Readers can learn more about these and other aspects of leading a small business in our new book, RECALCULATING, 97+ Experts On Driving Small Business Growth. It is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or wherever good books are sold.