Objectivity, humility and connection needed for success

Peter C. Dorsey Jr. | The Business Development Co. president

Successful companies are essential to driving the rising tide needed to float all boats. Large and small, innovative and mature, they all create value.

My career has been spent helping small-business owners get the money they need, and I am continually amazed by the variety of people and business activities I discover touring local companies.

Objects for our homes; parts that make planes fly; internet-services software; things we take for granted being developed by local know-how in an industrial park off Interstate 95.

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Casting aside myths, for the most part there isn’t much glamour in owning a business. Against the headwinds of global competition and high local cost factors, there’s very little easy money being made these days. As a banker, then, assessing repayment risk is a constant challenge in making a lending decision. The most important success factor: leadership.

Self-confidence is generally considered a positive trait, but only when it’s rooted in objectivity and humility, not conceit. When touring a facility, I’m interested in how much personal recognition and interaction the president has with his or her employees.

Another data point is an owner’s ability to acknowledge his or her weaknesses, and delegate to a team with complementary talents. And those talents shouldn’t be restricted to full-time employees. I’m a huge fan of advisory boards and peer groups that help a company owner step back to see the forest.

Good governance requires a formal commitment and the self-confidence to listen without judging.