Are small business owners born or made? Although some people seem to inherently possess an enviable business savvy, chances are that they zeroed in on personal development long before they worried about business development. You can have the best idea in the world and struggle to implement it if you don't possess some of the most important qualities of small business owners.
How do you stack up? Take a look at this list and identify your strengths and weaknesses. The good news is that your weaknesses aren't set in stone. You can make a conscious effort to improve areas that need work, and your small business can only flourish as a result.
1. Levelheaded Reactions
You'll need to react to information and make decisions on a daily if not hourly basis as a small business owner. How you behave under stress can directly affect your small business success. On one hand, you need to take your time to consider the pros and cons of each option. On the other hand, if you spend too much time mulling over your choices, you'll never make a decision.
Take the time to develop the ability to stay calm and levelheaded no matter the severity of the situation. Knee-jerk decisions tend to not stand up to scrutiny. Imagine if you yell at your employees each time they make a mistake just because that's what you instinctively want to do in the moment. Their loyalty will take a nose dive, and their dissatisfaction will be obvious to customers.
Having a good sense of self-confidence can help you remain more levelheaded. You won't take criticism too personally or end up using logical fallacies when you're confident in yourself and your goals. Stress and anxiety can also build up in small business owners, making it harder to stay levelheaded. Find a routine that helps you relax and stick to that routine.
2. Balancing Creativity With Practicality
Small business owners tend to be creative. After all, it takes a lot of out-of-the-box thinking in order to have a business idea and put it into action, but a small business owner's creative side must be tempered with some practicality. Otherwise, you'll get stuck in an endless cycle of brainstorming without actually implementing your ideas.
Therefore, successful small business owners have the ability to balance creativity and practicality. They can create a big-picture business plan and then break it down into actionable steps.
You might struggle with this quality if you enjoy starting projects but rarely finish them due to feeling overwhelmed or stuck. The next time you identify this feeling, make a conscious effort to break down the task into the smallest next step. Sometimes, that's just a matter of opening a document, looking up a phone number or putting on your shoes.
3. Feeling Comfortable Delegating Tasks
Although it is important for a small business owner to see tasks through to completion, it's not realistic for you to always do the everyday hard work. You're just one person, and you need a team of people on your side in order to enjoy a successful business. Delegating tasks to employees is a skill in and of itself.
It can be hard to relinquish control of your own business, but successful entrepreneurs know how to train, trust and follow up with their employees. Micromanagement will get you nowhere fast. On the other hand, if you give employees a sense of ownership over their tasks and projects, an amazing energy can permeate your business and lead to hypercharged creativity, dedication and loyalty.
Make sure the employees to whom you delegate are equipped for the task in terms of skills, training and equipment. Don't expect miracles if these factors aren't met. Once your employees know what they need to do, it's your job to step back and let them do the task. You take a supportive role and check in periodically to make sure the job is on track.
4. Personable and Makes Connections Easily
You'll wear a lot of hats as a small business owner, especially in the early stages when you may not have the funds for a full-fledged group of employees to whom you can delegate. That means you need to be comfortable in all kinds of social scenarios. It's time to overcome any fears you may have about speaking on the phone, making eye contact, engaging in small talk, welcoming customers, handling difficult scenarios with customers or staff, etc.
Does the thought of simply introducing yourself to someone at a trade show conference scare you? Imagine how much you'd regret missing a networking opportunity — one that could have done wonders for your PR or finances — because you didn't have the confidence or ability to jump on it. It's time to get out of your comfort zone. Think about it this way: Is your discomfort in social situations greater than your desire to succeed as a local business?
Sometimes, simply dressing the part can give you a great confidence boost, so take the time to look your best each day. Imagine that you're an actor who landed the role of one of your business heroes and then respond to each situation with his confidence, charisma and social skills. Preplan some easy introductions, topics to discuss and ways to say goodbye so you don't feel lost for words. Practice will take the edge off social interactions until it feels like less of a chore, even though you may never quite enjoy the process.
5. Small Business Owners Are Dedicated
Successful small business owners live and breathe their business plan. They wake up in the morning excited to do the work and see what the day brings. They go to bed feeling optimistic about their venture. Time passes quickly — even with long hours — because they're so absorbed and focused.
That doesn't mean that small business owners don't take time for themselves. It's important to give your mind and body a break so you don't suffer from burnout, but if you do not have the drive and passion for your business idea, you won't succeed. No one else can inject you with enthusiasm for this venture. It has to come from withinAs
6. Adaptable and Flexible as the Market
Small business owners have to pay attention to market trends. What's popular among your target audience this year might be considered old fashioned in just a few years, especially in rapidly changing spheres like technology and fashion. You'll need to be just as adaptable and flexible as your consumers in order to keep your business relevant. One benefit to being a small business is that you will be more agile in this regard than larger businesses.
For example, with the rise of e-commerce, your local business should at least have a web presence if not an online store. Rapid delivery is also a consumer expectation in this day and age as well as the ability to pick up an order at your store. Customers increasingly want to be able to reach you via text or social media messages.
How have you adapted to these changes in consumer demand? A rigid, "this is what we've always done" approach isn't in your business's best interest. Keep your entrepreneurial spirit, even after you've carved out a successful niche for your small business.
To help get you in the mindset of being a small business owner, visit the SBA (small business administration) to look for mentorship and other resources.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.