Over the last 20 years working at BLG, I have had the opportunity to have involvement with many successful business owners over a wide range of industries. Recently I have been reflecting on the various ways in which owners conduct their businesses, including the traits and habits that contribute to a successful business, to assist with developing strategies to support our business clients. Whilst all individuals are unique, there are four traits that I have consistently observed from successful business owners:
- Timely decision-making
Running a business involves making key decisions on a regular basis and procrastinating on decisions, large or small, can be a real barrier to growth and result in missed opportunities. Whilst successful business owners commonly seek advice from a trusted network (including, but not limited to, their staff, professional advisers, peers and / or family members) when making key decisions, they have the confidence to make timely decisions based on available information and previous experiences and take ownership for the outcomes of these decisions.
Successful business owners appreciate the importance of working on, and not necessarily in, their business to maintain a high-level focus on the direction of the business and to facilitate early identification of opportunities and threats. However to do this, building a reliable team that can support the day-to-day operations is essential and this can be a difficult and time consuming task without strong leadership, a positive staff culture and a clear delineation of roles/tasks. Further, the dynamic nature of businesses today, including on-going technological advancements and increased regulation, make it almost impossible to succeed without having a team with specialised knowledge in all areas of business, both internally (i.e. staff) and externally (i.e. professional advisers). In my experience, successful business owners are prepared to delegate responsibilities where appropriate but still make themselves available to provide support when required.
Successful businesses are commonly driven by owners who are passionate about their core business activities and thrive on the freedom and challenges of running a business. Maintaining motivation to strive for continual improvements and look for new opportunities is difficult without a genuine interest in the core business and enjoyment of the day-to-day requirements.
- Strong work ethic
Hard work is almost always a key driver behind a successful business, especially in the early growth phase. I’ve found that business owners who ‘lead the way’ with a strong work ethic are generally more successful in recruiting and retaining staff with similar values and in gaining the respect of peers and business contacts which invariably leads to new business opportunities.
Obviously businesses cannot survive and prosper simply by business owners and key staff exhibiting certain traits, however these personal qualities can have a substantial impact on the long-term success of a business. I genuinely believe that all business owners should regularly reflect on their personal strengths and weaknesses and to consider how these traits impact on their business operations, staff and customers/clients. Whilst the above traits do not always come naturally, appreciating the benefits of these traits and learning from others who have been involved in successful businesses will often lead to positive change. I’ve been very fortunate to work with, and learn from, many successful business owners over the years, which has been invaluable in my career as a business adviser.