Do you ever wonder how to succeed in business? Are great business owners born or made?
Whether there are any skills, traits or qualities you can develop in order to be more successful in business…or whether you have to be born with them?
The truth is, it’s a little bit of both. We’re all born with the propensity for certain talents and abilities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t aspire to certain qualities that we know will help us succeed.
Following are 10 qualities anyone can work at in order to succeed in business!
Creating a successful business is most often a long-term endeavor. It requires sticking with it in spite of multiple failures, and of persisting even when you feel like giving up.
Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Do you tend to give up at the first sign of adversity? Or do you consider obstacles as opportunities to learn new skills or ways of succeeding?
Stick-to-itiveness (sometimes referred to as grittiness) is sticking with your business despite fears, failures, obstacles and discouragement – even when it’s the last thing you want to do.
2. Willingness to squash fears
I was originally going to write “ability to squash fears”….but then I realized that overcoming your fears is a decision, not an innate ability.
There are so many fears that can come up in the course of running a business:
- Fear of not making ends meet
- Fear of your product not being accepted in the marketplace
- Fear of what your friends or family members are going to think of you if you fail
- Fear of putting yourself “out there”
It’s easy to just give in to your fears and let them overwhelm you. Are you willing to be intentional about NOT letting this happen? Find out how in my blog post, How To Keep The Fear Factor From Crushing You.
3. Ability to delay gratification
Much has been written about this trait, so it’s probably nothing new to you. But it’s so important that it’s worth a reminder!
You may have already heard of the Stanford marshmallow experiment. Briefly, researchers gave preschool-aged kids a small treat, then left the room. They told the kids they could either eat the treat right away, or wait 15 minutes and get an even bigger treat.
In later studies, researchers found that those kids who were able to wait for the bigger treat – in other words, to delay gratification – tended to experience many pretty amazing benefits in adulthood, including higher SAT scores, lower body mass indexes, and greater educational achievements.
There’s a great lesson to be learned here for how to succeed in business: powering through and holding out for long-term gains (rather than always taking the smaller, more immediate rewards) is almost always worth the wait. There is something to be said for the ole saying “anything worth it's salt, is worth waiting for”!
4. Willingness to go outside your comfort zone
When running a business, there will undoubtedly come times when you need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
Maybe it’s doing cold calls, or public speaking, or even just learning a new technology. Whatever it is, intentionally pushing yourself is a necessity if you want to succeed.
You’ve probably heard the quote, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This is a great motto for getting yourself into a mindset that actually looks for and welcomes opportunities to grow…rather than just reluctantly accepting that difficult tasks will be part of your day.
Trust me, the key is to push past those comfort zones! There is amazing things on the other side!
In his book, Power: Why Some People Have it and Others Don’t, Jeffrey Pfeffer writes, “The sun’s rays, focused, are much more powerful than they are without focus. The same is true for people seeking power.”
While you may not be seeking power per se, focus is still a key quality to succeed in business.
Focus is what will help you avoid distractions, filter out unnecessary ideas or suggestions, use your time wisely, and say no to things that don’t help you accomplish your goals.
For five years, Tom Corley observed wealthy individuals to see which habits or traits made them so successful. He reported his findings in his excellent book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.
One of the habits he identified was positivity.
Some of his findings were as follows:
- 98% of rich people believed in unlimited opportunity
- 94% avoided negative gossiping
- 94% were happy with their work
- 87% believed they were responsible for their own luck
While not everything is always going to go your way, it’s up to YOU how you respond. Do you focus on what “should have” or “could have” been, or do you suck it up and see the bright side of things? Do you blame everyone around you when things go wrong, or do you vow to work harder and be responsible for your own success?
Positivity is a mindset you can develop, but you need to be intentional about it. Try not to let negative thoughts creep in…and if they do, replace them with positive self-talk whenever possible.
“Pivot” is an often-overused term in business circles, but I really think it’s appropriate here. Being flexible means adjusting – or pivoting – when the need arises.
Brian Tracy said, “Be clear about your goal but be flexible about the process of achieving it.”. This is never more true than when running a business.
Your goals need to be crystal clear, but the path you’ll take to achieve them may need to change along the way. It’s important to have a plan in place, but hold onto it lightly…knowing you may need to adjust or even completely revamp it in light of real-life challenges or circumstances.
8. Ability to monitor your own progress
Tom Corley also found that rich people are experts at tracking and monitoring their own progress in life. They don’t leave anything up to chance – instead, they keep track of everything from calories consumed to money saved.
- 94% of rich people make a habit of balancing their bank account each month
- 94% track how much money they earn and how much they save
- 76% monitor their daily exercise
- 63% track daily internet usage
It’s only through consistent monitoring that you can know what you need to do to start – or continue – to succeed in business.
9. Commitment to being a lifelong learner
Did you think that once you graduated you could stop learning? This couldn’t be further from the truth! To succeed in business, it’s important to always be learning, reading and growing.
There are tons of examples of successful business owners who know the importance of learning: one example is Warren Buffet who dedicates 80% of his day, every day, to reading!
Make a point of staying on top of industry news by following industry blogs, attending conferences and workshops, and subscribing to trade magazines or journals. You’ll find this not only increases your general knowledge, but leaves you feeling more confident and better able to make informed decisions in your business.
Self-confidence doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
It’s easy to second-guess yourself, doubt your abilities and think about how everyone around you is better/smarter/more able than you.
Fortunately, self-confidence is something you can develop over time. Some of the best ways to do this include:
- Doing things you’re afraid of, so you realize you really CAN overcome scary things
- Adopting a growth mindset (i.e., realizing you can become smarter through working hard…intelligence isn’t just something you’re born with)
- Dressing professionally, even when you don’t feel like it. When you’re working in your pj’s, it may be harder to muster up self-confidence.
- Be prepared. Before you approach a project, meeting or assignment, prepare yourself as much as possible. Read, take notes, and make sure you really understand your topic. This will ease any nervousness and ensure you project an air of self-confidence.
Bruce Lee said, “Always be yourself and have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and try to duplicate it.”
This is great advice: don’t try to be something you’re not. Be the best you YOU can be!
As an employee, one has the benefit of asking a boss or colleague for help when a problem arises. But as a business owner, you have to learn to rely largely on yourself.
Being resourceful means being willing and able to find new and creative ways to tackle problems. It means making tough decisions when needed, and knowing when it’s necessary to ask for help.
It means knowing that ultimately, YOU’RE the only one who can solve your problems…and while this may seem scary if you’re not used to it, it’s actually very empowering.
It means you know the buck stops with you, and that you have the power, knowledge, and ability to really be responsible for your own success!
Passion is the quality that’s going to make it easier to keep going when things get tough. People with great passion can make the impossible happen!
Keep in mind that passion can manifest itself in a number of ways:
- Passion for the product or service you provide
- Passion for helping your target market
- Passion for running an ethical business
- Passion for solving a common problem
Ideally, you’ll feel a passion for all of the above! This passion is what will get you out of bed in the morning, and help you to persevere when it just feels easier to give up (and trust me, you WILL feel this way at some point!).
Your path to succeed in business will be different than anyone else’s. But there are certain qualities and traits you can develop that will give you the best chance of success – whatever that looks like for YOU.
I hope this post has given you some ideas for your own personal development, as well as the motivation and encouragement you need to get started.
What qualities would you add to this list? Share below!
Excellent blog, and perfect timing as I have returned to school to pursue my passion, and one day have my own business. Your list of things to do resonated with me. Thank you, Kim!
Love hearing this, Kelly!
Thank you. Absolutely solid tips that I needed today. I haven’t heard from you in awhile and I’m glad you are back doing what you do best!
It’s good to be back! 🙂
HI. Very amazing post. I liked the content and also, I found the post very factual and interesting. Thank you for sharing the post.
OOOOHHHHH, YES! Great idea! Thanks so much for adding value to this conversation, Jack!
YES, love this one, Yvette! Thanks for adding value to the conversation!
Excellent post. These are qualities you need to succeed in life period!
Self-confidence and Passion are the main things. Great words.
OOOHHHH…good stuff, Duncan! Love all your adds!
great article !!! everyone forgets about flexibility. I like it you added this point too.
My question is this. Say you do all that. Say you have success. Say you have growth that exceeds your expectations.. What happens when you reach a growth point..such that you dont know what to do next? The company is no longer the Mom and Pop operation you started?
Thanks for this post. I liked it.