What does it take to be successful starting a business? While there’s no such thing as the perfect entrepreneur — even Bill Gates has made mistakes — a number of personal qualities can help you to build a successful business. Here are a few of the essential traits.
You can delegate. No matter how smart and energetic you are, you can’t attend to every detail yourself. You’re going to have to trust employees to do their jobs so that you can run the business. That also requires being able to manage people. Nobody likes a micromanager, but your employees must still be accountable. Delegate — but follow up.
You are a teacher. In order to delegate successfully, you will need people with appropriate skills — and they may have to learn some of those skills from you. If you don’t have the time or the ability to impart your knowledge to your employees, you will need to hire a manager who can.
You are self-motivated. Let’s face it: Most of us would rather not have someone else telling us what to do. That’s one of the appeals of becoming self-employed. But as a small business owner, you won’t have a boss to tell you when to get to work. If that’s a problem, keep your day job.
You can work with numbers. You may have the world’s greatest accountant, but he or she cannot always be at your beck and call. If you’ve never run a business before, you may be shocked to find how much of your time is spent keeping track of money — expenses, revenues, taxes and the like. A math phobia won’t help.
You don’t mind making mistakes. You will make them; the trick is to learn from them and move on. Not everyone finds that easy to do.
You like to work. Contrary to myth, you don’t need to be a workaholic to start a successful business. Many entrepreneurs find that it makes more sense to establish a reasonable working pace — one that lets them strike a balance between work and their personal lives. That said, don’t start a business unless you enjoy work. There’s going to be plenty of it.
You don’t mind selling. You’ll have to sell products to customers, of course. You may also need to sell lenders or other financial backers on the prospects of your company. And you’ll need to convince potential employees to accept jobs with your firm rather than go to work for the competition.
You don’t quit easily. You’ll encounter obstacles that might stymie some individuals. You’ll have more success if you are the type of person who relishes such challenges. A dash of optimism helps; it will help you handle the uncertainty that is part of every venture.