6 Things Shared By Successful Business Owners

The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute identified six dimensions that characterize success for small business owners (SBOs). Specifically, successful SBOs exhibit a desire to enjoy longevity in their business, expand revenues and grow the size of their companies by exhibiting these characteristics:

1.Self-fulfilled
2.Collaborative
3.Tech-savvy
4.Future-focused
5.Curious
6.Action oriented

Self-Fulfilled:

Definition: Success-oriented small business owners place a high value on the personal fulfillment and gratification that their companies provide them, relishing the self-determination and respect that comes from being their own boss and being in control of their personal income and long-term net worth.

Insights:

  • Self-fulfillment starts with your “self.”
  • Celebrate the connection between your business and yourself.
  • Give yourself “permission” to enjoy the fruits of your success.
  • Recognize that time for yourself is the best way to “recharge your batteries.”
  • Know that others respect you when you respect yourself.

Action tips:

  • Visualize the end results of being an entrepreneur. Picture your future were you don't have to work for someone else for the next 10-20 years without the freedom to decide when to wake up, when to get off work, when to take a vacation, how much money to make, what direction the company is going in, where to live, etc. This will reinforce your feelings of independence and self-fulfillment in charging your own career path (source: Evan Carmichael, YoungEntrepreneur.com).
  • Surround yourself with people who are more successful than you. Make sure to network with other small business owners who have done what you want to do and reached the pinnacle of their success. It is helpful to see what is possible and that pushes you to strive for more (source: Evan Carmichael, YoungEntrepreneur.com,).
  • Have “Motivational Days” every couple of weeks. Stop by the local Porsche dealer, watch some of your favorite motivational movies, buy a new suit or briefcase, etc. (source: Evan Carmichael, YoungEntrepreneur.com).

Collaborative

Definition: Success-oriented small business owners learn how to delegate effectively to others within their businesses as well as build strong personal relationships with their management team, employees, consultants, vendors and customers.

Insights:

  • Get past the “I’m the only one” syndrome.
  • Create THE best place to work.
  • Understand the importance of collaboration outside your company.
  • Innovate around your supply chain.
  • Partner with others to win larger contracts.
  • Solve client/customer challenges together, as a team.
  • Overall: Create an ever-expanding pool of other people with a vested interest in your success.

Action tips:

Don’t feel like you as a business owner have to be the point person on everything. A great way to make your employee-base more well-rounded is by identifying the areas where you have difficulty. Whether it's finance or marketing, you can hire specifically for those needs. Empower your employees to manage certain aspects of the business, and establish clearly defined roles. Accomplish this by ensuring that every employee has received an accurate job description that is reviewed on an annual basis (source: Gaebler.com).

Make your business feel like a team. Plan events for your staff to mingle outside of the day-to-day business activities. Whether it’s a holiday party or after-work bowling, these activities will bring your employees closer together. Also, something as simple as bi-monthly staff meetings can provide an opportunity for everyone to remain aware of what is going on across all aspects of your company (source: Gaebler.com).

Everyone responds well to positive reinforcement. Put in place a system for positive feedback or rewards. At company meetings provide time at the end for employee recognition. Also, provide opportunities for employees to improve their knowledge and skill level. Offer up forums or conferences in your local area on specific topics of interest. This will inject new enthusiasm into your company and allow your people to grow professionally.

Tech-Savvy

Definition: Technology is a key point of leverage for success-oriented small business owners. They more intensely value their company’s website and are significantly more likely to rely on technology solutions to help make their businesses more effective and more efficient.

Insights:

  • Recognize the importance of core technologies such as email and the company website. BULLETS
  • Prioritize other investments based on what they can do for your business.
  • Be open to new technologies.
  • Never do something just because “you should.”
  • Understand the growing convergence of personal and professional technologies.
  • Recognize that technology can be invasive and disruptive so invest carefully.

Action tips:

  • Small business owners should invest in a professional and searchable website enabled with search engine optimization, a newsletter as well as a timely and informative blog (source: Ramon Ray, Smallbiztechnology.com).
  • It’s also important to present a professional name to the world via your email address (ex. jsmith@widgets.com). This can be done easily and inexpensively through services such as www.1and1.com or your current Internet service provider (source: Tamara Monosoff, Entrepreneur.com).
  • The future of small business will increasingly be wired and mobile. Be sure to choose a smartphone, such as BlackBerry, Android or iPhone that offers an extensive app library to virtually accept and process transactions, keep track of your calendar or even track inventory (source: Jason Ankeny, Entrepreneur.com).

Future-Future-Future

Definition: Planning for both the short and long-term future are key traits that characterize success-oriented small business owners.

Insights:

Recognize importance of core technologies
Have a clear operating premise (COP) that reflects:

  • Focus:
  • Clarity
  • Awareness
  • Prioritization
  • Diligence
  • Commitment
  • Action

Action Tips:

  • In order to have a clear vision of where a company is going, small business owners need to focus on more than just short-term planning. A great way to accomplish this is by creating a business plan. The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a wonderful framework including this business plan template: (source: The Small Business Administration).
  • Business owners should find a mentor who can help them keep an eye on the future. Select a mentor who works in a company or has worked in a company that exemplifies what you would like your business to become. Look for organizations that have mentoring programs, such as SCORE (source: SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business).
  • Anticipate how your industry will change. This is a key aspect of planning for the future of your business. Sign up for industry-focused organizations, and subscribe to your industry’s trade publications. That way you will always be on the front line of what is coming next. It’s also helpful to know what tools are available to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Selecting a few small business publications to follow will provide constant knowledge and insight regarding the resources available for small business owners. A few examples include: New York Enterprise Report, Entrepreneur or Inc.

Curious

Definition: Success-oriented small business owners are more open to learning how others run their businesses. They actively seek best practice insights regarding management, business innovation and prospecting along with finding, motivating and retaining employees.

Insights:

  • Limiting your curiosity or regimenting it restricts your ability to give it the free rein it needs.
  • Unleash your total inner curiosity.
  • The best curiosity is the curiosity that turns you on personally.
  • Connect the dots between what you find personally interesting and what could be impactful for your business.
  • Even the best MBA program tends to have limited horizons.

Action tips:

  • Get out from behind your desk and make sure that at least once a month you attend a networking session, cocktail party or industry event to meet other people and learn from their experiences.
  • Always look for emerging trends. They may not impact your bottom line right now, but they could help your business in the future (source: Oren Harari, professor at the University of San Francisco and author of Break From The Pack).
  • Hire curious people. People who are curious are not complacent about their current knowledge. They will constantly expand their understanding of your industry, paying off ‘big time’ in the future. Curious people are not afraid to ask tough questions about the future direction of your company. Make sure you’re patient with them! (source: Bootstrapping101 by Bob Reiss).

Action Action Action

Definition: Success-oriented small business owners are proactive in taking initiative to build your businesses. They see adversity as “a kick in the rear to help move you forward.”

Insights:

  • Always be working to take the business to the next level.
  • Find ways to be noticeably different from the competition.
  • Recognize that adversity is a swift kick in the seat of the pants to move forward.
  • Be ready to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Action tips:

1.Force yourself to be decisive. If you are less comfortable in making abrupt decisions, create an action plan – broken down into days, weeks and months – of things that you need to address. This will help you assess each issue, and then make the most informed decision. However, be careful not to overanalyze your options. The worst case scenario is that you analyze something so much that you “freeze” with doubt.

2.In order to be more “action oriented” determine your most productive time of the day and dedicate it to yourself. This “I” time will help you achieve your goals – in some cases by visualizing them as a form of mental rehearsal.

3.Create meaningful to-do lists. If you are not already doing this, end each day by creating a list of things you need to do the next day. The way to make to-do lists meaningful is to start each item with a verb and ensure it’s a measurable task. For example, a poor to-do list might include general ideas about increasing sales, whereas an “action-oriented” one would suggest four specific new sales strategies.

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