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Small business owners are the backbone of the global economy, driving innovation, creating jobs and contributing to the overall growth of communities. In fact, over 90% of the business population in the United States represents small and medium-sized businesses.
While every entrepreneur has a unique journey, there are certain qualities that the most successful small business owners share. These qualities play a crucial role in their ability to overcome challenges, adapt to market changes, and ultimately thrive in their businesses. Let’s explore a few key qualities that set the most successful small business owners apart from the rest.
Related: The 5 Qualities of Superior Entrepreneurs
1. Vision and strategic thinking
Successful small business owners have a clear vision of what they want to achieve. They have a long-term perspective and can see beyond immediate challenges. They understand their industry, the market, and their target customers, which enables them to make strategic decisions that align with their goals. These entrepreneurs are adept at identifying trends, recognizing opportunities and taking advantage of them. They have a keen sense of innovation and are not afraid to think outside the box. They are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competition and create unique value propositions that resonate with their customers. Additionally, successful small business owners understand the importance of setting achievable goals and creating a roadmap to achieve them. They break down their vision into concrete steps, set milestones and regularly assess their progress. This strategic thinking allows them to stay focused, make informed decisions, and adjust their plans as needed.
When strategizing for your long-term goals, bring in outside perspectives to inspire new ideas. Whether you have a board of directors or other leaders in your network, informal brainstorming sessions or quarterly meetings can ensure you’re on track with your vision. Advice from a business coach or mentor can also be helpful. The key is to lay a clear foundation for your projected growth.
2. Resilience and perseverance
Resilience and persistence are two core qualities that are essential for small business owners to navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Building a business from scratch is rarely an easy path. It involves overcoming many obstacles, setbacks and failures along the way. The most successful small business owners possess an unrelenting determination to persevere through these challenges. They understand that setbacks are learning opportunities and that failure is not the end, but a stepping stone to success. They accept adversity, learn from it and adapt their strategies accordingly. These entrepreneurs strongly believe in their vision and are willing to put in the hard work and dedication to make it a reality. Their resilience allows them to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to changing circumstances, and ultimately thrive in the face of adversity.
A surprising 50% of small businesses will fail in the first five years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything will be fine afterwards. The pandemic has permanently shut down over 200,000 businesses, so it’s imperative that you can pivot quickly no matter what comes your way.
3. Strong leadership and communication
Effective leadership is a crucial quality for small business owners. They must inspire and motivate their teams to work towards a common goal. Successful small business owners lead by example, demonstrating integrity, dedication and a strong work ethic. These entrepreneurs understand the importance of effective communication. They know how to convey their vision, values and expectations to their employees, customers and stakeholders. They foster a culture of open communication where ideas are encouraged, feedback is valued, and collaboration is encouraged. Additionally, successful small business owners understand the importance of building and maintaining relationships. They know how to connect with customers, build trust and provide exceptional customer service. They also recognize the value of networking and building partnerships with other businesses in their industry. Their ability to build strong relationships contributes to their overall success.
To continue to deepen your leadership skills, educate yourself regularly and seek out external leadership experts. Read books like Dare to Lead, listen to podcasts like Coaching For Leaders, and sign up for training and development tools programs like THRIVE
Related: 22 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Keeps Them Going
4. Continuous learning and adaptability
The business landscape is constantly changing and successful small business owners recognize the need for continuous learning and adaptability. They keep up to date with industry trends, emerging technologies and changing consumer behavior. They invest in their own personal and professional development, seeking knowledge and skills that will benefit their business. Moreover, these entrepreneurs are not afraid to adapt their strategies when necessary. They are open to change, embrace innovation, and quickly recognize when something isn’t working. They are constantly looking for ways to improve their products, services and operations to stay competitive in the market.
The National Federation of Independent Business Research has shared research that shows the top issues for small business owners in 2023 are inflation, supply chain issues, and difficulty filling jobs. The challenges facing small business owners are multiple and dynamic; successful leaders must be prepared to meet these challenges head-on. No matter the year, the journey of being a small business owner is filled with challenges, but the most successful owners have certain qualities that set them apart – and the ones I’ve outlined here are the foundation on which successful businesses are built. By embodying these qualities, aspiring small business owners can increase their chances of success and overcome any challenges that come their way.