July 12, 2023 By Max Freedman

A great idea or a relentless drive to be your own boss might’ve been why you started your small business. Now that you’ve been at it for a while, maybe you’re not seeing as much success as you’d expected. This might have you wondering: What do small business owners need to succeed? Below are nine common small business owner traits; four external factors to help foster small business success, and six other tips for business success. 

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9 qualities of successful small business owners

There’s no one definition of small business success – you can set your own terms. Consider metrics like your growth goals and profits. 

To help you focus on success and keep on track, review the following characteristics and qualities. 

1. Being personable and approachable 

If you offer great services but you’re frustrating to communicate with, potential customers might choose slightly lower-quality products or services from better communicators. If you’re instead friendly to speak with and easy to approach, your demeanor will complement your offerings.

2. Evolving 

Running a business means proactively noticing trends and shifting your strategy to accommodate these changes. This could mean, for example, a harder marketing push on products relevant to a growing customer need. A diverse team with some flexibility in its day-to-day, alongside access to high-quality resources, may help you be this adaptive.

3. Taking risks 

Most business experts will tell you that great business ideas solve problems currently being unaddressed. As such, growing your business will often start with spotting problems that lots of people share. You’ll then need to figure out a solution, which is the risky part. You might think that it works, but how can you know for sure? What if people just don’t like it? But if you run it by some people and they all think it’s great, then you may be able to take the risk and move forward with more confidence.

4. Exuding confidence 

Simply being confident is a great starting point to help your business grow. Confidence may often lead to a clearer mind, which you’ll need to properly assess risks, opportunities, weaknesses, and the like. Confidence may also help you make sales and retain clients. A confident salesperson or direct contact at your company is often more persuasive and reassuring than someone who doesn’t fully believe in themself.

5. Being a dedicated, persistent self-starter

Running a business may be highly time-consuming and challenging, so it requires constant initiative. That’s why the best small business owners are self-starters who devote themselves to their companies and continuously pour their hearts into them. They have set routines for working their business tasks into their daily lives and doing them well. They don’t need anyone else to motivate them – the spark lies within them to keep pushing for growth and success.

6. Taking breaks

All the work you put into your small business may sometimes leave you pretty exhausted. Successful small business owners acknowledge this fatigue and consciously unplug from their companies every now and again. A mental refresh may help you maintain the sharp, confident mind any small business owner needs to thrive.

7. Creating – and sticking to – a budget

A business generally can’t be successful without profits, and a business typically can’t profit without a budget. You may use financial forecasting to create your budget, and then it’s on you to stick to this budget. Overspending may lead to your expenses outweighing your revenue, resulting in loss, not profit. There are certainly ways to dig yourself out of the hole, but it’s generally best not to wind up there at all.

8. Prioritizing tasks

Given your stacked plate, you should generally know what to do first each day and what to do last. This also means getting a sense of how much time a project or task will take. Spreading out bigger tasks over a longer period may be key to getting across the finish line on time – without leaving anything behind.

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9. Looking at the big picture 

Successful business owners think about today, tomorrow, and the weeks, months, and years afterward. What could happen in that time that would threaten or benefit the business? What can you do to prepare? Regularly asking yourself these questions and taking proactive steps is typically a big part of spending your time and money the right way.

Factors that contribute to business success

Certain factors beyond yourself may contribute to your business success, including the below.

Hiring the right talent

Good hiring practices may accelerate your growth. The less time you spend re-training your team on skills they should’ve mastered long ago, typically the less time your work will take to complete. This may leave you with more time to accommodate potential new clients’ or customers’ needs and pursue new opportunities.

Expanding your network

Networking is generally the lifeblood of most businesses. Getting your name out there and building relationships are typically keys to any successful business, regardless of your industry.

Going to networking events is a great way to speak face-to-face with potential customers or clients. You may also find vendors or partner companies at these events, further bolstering your business.

Making sales

Without a successful sales program, you likely have a product or service idea but no revenue to cover its costs. Taking some sales workshops may help you make the most of your great team, connections, and who you are as a person.

6 keys to small business success

A successful small business generally does all the following:

1. Keep organized, detailed records

Running a business involves a lot of paperwork, whether on your computer screen or on actual paper. Successful businesses typically create robust filing systems for storing and sorting all this paperwork. You should be able to find any file you need based on when you created it, the customer in question, and the subject matter. This way, you always have the information you need to answer any inquiries or jump back into old work.

2. Analyze competitors

Show customers why your business is the one to choose and help fill any gaps your competitors leave untouched or add their services to your own roster. Competitor analysis, when combined with your own SWOT analysis, may help you figure out what to do differently to best serve your customers.

3. Make sacrifices

Businesses face limits and tough decisions every day. For example, is an equipment upgrade more important than raising your team’s salaries to lower employee turnover? Is chasing a client that could tremendously boost your revenue worth it when working for them would strain your resources? These either-or scenarios require you to be okay with making sacrifices. You can’t always have it all, so choose the best option.

4. Stay creative

Adjusting to shifting market conditions and addressing new customer or client needs requires a heavy dose of creativity. An out-of-the-box solution may often be the best one since, presumably, nobody else is doing it. Standing out is often among your fastest paths to getting customers’ attention.

5. Prioritize company culture

No small business is able to grow and thrive without a team, and to retain employees, you should help make their work as enjoyable as possible. That means prioritizing a healthy company culture. Create a work environment where celebrating employee wins is the norm and taking breaks or time off is encouraged. You should also try to keep yourself available to speak with employees. Plus, there’s often a correlation between company culture and customer loyalty.

6. Prioritize customer service

Good customer service may transform a decent business into a remarkable one: 52 percent of shoppers will pay more for better customer service. Think about it like this: A great product that you back with minimal customer support is only a good product. It is typically much more expensive to acquire new customers than retain current ones. Show your customers that you value them, and they’ll likely stick around – and keep boosting your bottom line. 

Profit is the goal – how you get there is the question

No matter how you define business success, one thing is certain: Your company must be profitable to be successful. Sometimes, obtaining that profit will mean pursuing new business opportunities for which you don’t yet have the capital. In that case, SmartBiz® may help. Through SmartBiz, you can apply for SBA 7(a) loans, bank term loans, or other funding for your growth initiatives. Check now whether you pre-qualify* – it only takes five minutes.

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