Small-business owners and startup entrepreneurs need a wide range of skills and traits in order to succeed. Some are industry-specific or technical in nature and are subject to frequent changes and updates. Others are more timeless – the kinds of skills that foster success no matter what type of business or industry you are in, or your stage of development.
Here are six timeless traits that should be in any business owner’s arsenal:
• A knack for knowing your industry. The most successful startup entrepreneurs and small-business owners take the time to study and become experts in their industry or profession. They attend industry events, read blogs and trade magazines and their expertise gives them credibility and a huge leg up. This knowledge helps them “connect the dots” and know what’s really important, and what’s not, said Vickie Milazzo, owner of an education company on Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing small companies in the U.S.
• Ability to adapt ideas from others. As Milazzo notes, being creative is essential, but it’s not about reinventing the wheel. Successful business owners know how to adapt proven concepts and approaches from other industries and companies and make them their own.
• Problem-solver. Entrepreneurs can’t afford to wait around for others to solve their problems. They have to figure out the solutions on their own. And that makes them better business owners for when the next problem arises.
• Real networking prowess. Connecting to a few people on Facebook or LinkedIn is not networking. The most successful business owners know that real networking only happens face-to-face, and most often with people who are not their peers. According to Milazzo, who is also the author of “Wicked Success is Inside Every Woman,” to network successfully you have to connect with people who have more experience than you.
• Knowing when to get help. Even though business owners are creative thinkers and problem-solvers, the best ones also know how to ask questions and seek help when they need it. Remember that there’s always someone out there who has faced the same challenge successfully. One great place to find this kind of advice for free is SCORE (www.score.org).
• Aggressive goal-setting. Successful business owners continuously set goals and work toward them. When one goal is reached, they set another and repeat the process. Having clear goals helps everyone in a business stay focused and motivated. •
Daniel Kehrer can be reached at
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