Starting a company is one thing; making it last is an entirely different challenge.
April 7, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Being a business owner isn’t easy. It requires a lot of hard work, and even then, you aren’t guaranteed to be successful. While external market factors can certainly play a big role in whether or not your startup turns into a long-term success story, your influence is also undeniably important.
Successful business owners tend to share several key personality traits that enable them to overcome adversity and innovate as they establish a foothold in the market. After all, without the right leadership, even the best business idea will quickly falter.
The good news is that even if you aren’t an “expert” at these traits yet, you can develop them within yourself so that you are better equipped to execute your business.
1. Specialized knowledge of your niche (and a desire to learn)
You wouldn’t be starting your business in the first place if you didn’t have a passion for, and knowledge of, your niche. Your experiences give you unique insights that help you come up with great ideas for products and services. But successful entrepreneurs aren’t content with what they already know. They want to apply their knowledge and continue learning so they can keep improving.
As Info Entrepreneurs explains, exploiting knowledge gained from market research, customer feedback and other sources allows you to make further enhancements to your products, increase productivity and even improve supplier relationships or in-house policies. Establishing a culture of learning allows your company to keep improving.
2. Guided by goals
The most successful entrepreneurs are goal-driven. This became especially clear to me during a recent conversation with medical professional, entrepreneur and business consultant Dr. Dan Schneider.
“Strong entrepreneurs are guided by both personal and business goals,” he explained. “Specific, measurable goals provide direction and motivation, keeping you on track with the things that matter most. Continually setting and re-assessing goals is how you create accountability with yourself. This ultimately carries over to the rest of your team, influencing them to keep improving as well.”
A Harvard Business Review study puts the power of goal-setting into perspective. The study found that 14 percent of the population has unwritten goals, while an additional 3 percent uses written goals. Those with unwritten goals were 10 times as successful as individuals without any goals — and those with written goals were three times as successful as those with unwritten goals. Needless to say, this guiding influence can make a huge difference for your business.
3. Diligent in all things
Successful entrepreneurs are notoriously hard workers, often making significant sacrifices to put in the hours needed to grow their brand. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend 100 hours a week grinding away at your business.
In an interview with Business News Daily, Christine Baker of Strategic Nudge explains, “When you’re an entrepreneur, the hours you work are a meaningless measure. You work until you achieve what you need, whether that’s your first product launch, first customer sale, first year of $100,000 turnover or whatever. If that takes 20 or 70 hours a week, so be it.”
Success comes by giving each of the many tasks you’re responsible for the attention they deserve. Dividing your time wisely and cutting out distractions as you focus on goal-driven tasks puts you on track for market growth.
4. Always open-minded
Despite your status as a business leader, you need to accept the fact that you don’t know everything. You must be open to sources of information that run contrary to your preconceived notions. You must be willing to not always be the smartest run in the room, knowing that great ideas can come from just about anyone.
Being open-minded gives your business a greater level of flexibility. It makes your company more agile and better able to pivot quickly in response to market changes. In fact, in a Forbes survey of 500 senior executives, 92 percent reported organizational agility as being “critical” to the success of their business.
The most lasting startups tend to be innovators, but you can’t let yourself get caught in a rut after some early success. Being open-minded will allow you to identify new opportunities for growth and improve your profit margins.
5. Determination in the face of obstacles
Despite your best efforts, there is a very real chance your startup will struggle to turn a profit, especially in its early years. Growth may be slow, especially if you don’t get funding to help launch. Even if your startup is initially successful, there is no guarantee that this will continue. Changing global market conditions, the emergence of new competitors and other factors will likely create new challenges and disruptions.
This happens to every company sooner or later. Because of this, every business leader must develop the resilience and determination to power through such setbacks. Use failure as a learning tool, but don’t let it defeat you. Persistent effort will ultimately get you — and your company — to where you want to be.
At the end of the day, the success of your business will largely ride on your abilities as a leader. By ensuring that you have developed the traits needed to survive the competitive entrepreneurial world, you will be able to effectively guide your team and execute decisions that result in lasting growth for your company.