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7 Characteristics of Successful Business Owners

What are the common characteristics of successful business owners? Let's review seven essential qualities to meeting business demands from day one — to the day you hit the big time.
Business owner in an apron holding a clipboard, looking outside optimistically. Characteristics of a successful business owner.

Let’s be real. There’s more than one recipe for creating and running a thriving business. But there are several common characteristics of successful business owners.

Do you have a great business idea but are afraid to start? If so, you’re not alone. As many as 66 percent of Americans are scared to take the first step of starting their own business.

You can bridge the gap between ideation to realization by learning from other successful business owners. What are their unique personality traits? Do you share some or all of these traits? If not, how can you learn from them?

Let’s review seven essential characteristics to meeting business demands from day one — to the day you hit the big time.

1. Determined and Future-Focused

Can You Self-Motivate?

Motivation is key to being a successful business owner. Without a boss keeping you on your toes, it’s down to you to get up in the morning and get to work. You’re your own boss — for better and for worse.

Mike Tyson once said: “Everyone has got a plan until they get punched in the face.” That also rings true in business. Like Tyson, you’ll need to roll with the punches and bounce back from pitfalls. Even the top businesses regularly face challenges.

You’ll likely thrive as a small business owner if you can:

  • Complete tasks independently at your current place of work
  • Commit to hobbies in your personal life
  • Persevere through challenges and uncertainty

Do You Have a Vision?

By imagining your future goals, you’ll strive to plan and make them a reality. Your vision fuels your ambition.

In our 2022 Small Business Trends report, about 60 percent of new business owners leaped to start their business because they were ready to be their own boss. And 31 percent of business owners started their businesses to follow their passions. All of them had a vision of what their future could be.

About 47 percent also reported that their dissatisfaction with working in corporate America motivated them to start a business. If you’re tired of working in corporate America — and dream of building your own career path — you’re one step closer to becoming a small business owner.

So, ask yourself: Are you ready to say goodbye to working for someone else? Do you want to turn your passion into your career? Can you make a dream product or service a reality?

If your answer is “yes” to all the above, you’ll likely take the initiative to move forward in the business world. And do whatever it takes to work toward your dream future.

See our business success stories to learn how others turned their dream business into reality. 

2. Open-minded and Humble

Ego and overconfidence are common start-up killers. You can’t afford to be vague in your vision or believe you can survive on reputation alone.

Are You Open-Minded?

Flexibility and collaboration are critical to small business success. You’ll have to accept new ideas and input if you want to see your business grow in the right direction. Sure, self-confidence is important. But it’s also important to recognize when there’s room for improvement.

Dutch management scholar and psychoanalyst Kets de Vries says owners who push away incoming talent or hard truths set themselves up for failure in the business world.

Can you listen to constructive criticism and weigh its worth? If so, you’ll likely find success.

Being humble is another good quality to have. You’ll want to get your hands dirty, too, so your team knows you mean business. And as your company grows, you’ll need to place faith in your employees to do their jobs.

Can You Self-Assess?

As a business owner, you need to be able to take a step back and analyze your own behavior and work. You’ll want your work ethic to set a good example for your employees.

Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Mark Suster says you’ll also need to be able to say ‘no’ to offers that are for personal gain or distract the business from its objectives.

Learning to assess your work performance and business offers will be critical to building or sustaining a lucrative business. 

3. Adaptable and Resourceful

Do You Seek to Learn? Are You Flexible? 

Successful entrepreneurs are willing to seek and accept advice from experts and mentors. They’re life-long learners. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 20 percent of all business owners fail within the first two years. With a resourceful approach, your business will likely survive and adapt as you learn new skills.

You’ll also want to be flexible as a business leader. That means you’re willing to pivot or change different elements in your business model if needed. Eric Ries, entrepreneur, author, and pioneer of the lean startup business strategy, was the first to apply the word “pivot” to entrepreneurship. 

“Through pivots, we can build companies where the failure of the initial idea isn’t the failure of the company,” said Ries in Inc. Magazine

Are You a Dynamic Problem Solver?

There’s no crystal ball when it comes to business. In any business, unforeseen problems will arise. You’ll need to see problems as challenges to overcome. And you’ll have to be committed enough to the business that you come to enjoy brainstorming and problem-solving.

Ideally, you should have experience solving problems in a business context, such as working in a corporate role. If you can quickly overcome a crisis or big issue in your current workplace, you likely have what it takes to run a business.

Do You Have a Support System?

New business owners will need the full support of their loved ones to succeed. You can face an uphill battle if your partner or family is against the idea. To build a support system, you should seek mentors or groups to lean on in times of need. Your support system can help you stay on track.

Networking is another good way of building a solid support system. Plus, social networking is one of the top traits correlated to business success.

You’ll also want to work with companies that will give you the support you need in your business, such as securing funding and managing your payroll or taxes. Remember: You don’t have to do business alone. And you’ll likely find more success if you use the right business resources and support.

4. Opportunistic and Smart with Risk

Do You Know When to Take and Avoid Risks?

Small business ownership is inherently risky. But with smart thinking, your small business can yield great success.

For example, you might need to make a big investment. You can recognize which investments present great opportunities if you have a level-headed approach to money. Knowing when to spend your money — and what to spend your money on— also makes small business ownership much more manageable. You don’t necessarily have to be frugal, but you’ll have to be good at sticking to a budget.

Successful business owners also see the big picture. They do what it takes for the greater good of their business, such as sacrificing early profits to invest in business goals. And they take advantage of opportunities that will support business growth. 

Take a look at our top 12 Business Tips and Tricks from Small Business Owners

5. Leader Mentality

Can You Represent and Advocate for your Business?

As a business owner, you’ll personally have to represent your business. That means you’ll need to step up in times of need to guide employees, give speeches, and take important calls. And you must be confident in yourself and your ability to make critical decisions.

Ideally, you’ll want to have experience in leadership roles so you know how to be directive, persuasive, and decisive.

Are You a Team Builder?

Savvy business owners know how to build a team. From hiring the right people to forming relationships with suppliers and potential customers, you need to know what it takes to build thriving business relationships.

6. Personable & Empathetic

Are You a Good Communicator?

Communication is a key trait in making any small business successful. Strong communicators can get their points across with the right approach and set clear expectations. And they’re not afraid of confrontation because they know how to address a problem without causing upset.

Depending on your type of business, the demands of your communication and other soft skills will vary. For example, an online business may require fewer phone calls and face-to-face communication.

Part of being a good communicator is being empathetic. Through empathy and understanding, you can create a supportive business culture. In turn, employees will be more engaged — and you’ll see gains in business growth. 

Looking to strengthen your communication skills? See our Complete Guide to Become a Master Communicator

7. Good with Organization

Are You Good With Numbers?

You don’t need to be a math genius to run a business. But are you good with budgeting your money? Do you like working with spreadsheets?

Especially in the early days, you’ll have to juggle finances, cash flows, bills, and receipts. Being good with numbers can help identify where your business is losing money and where you should invest more. After all, a lack of knowledge about financing is the second most common reason aspiring business owners don’t move forward.

If you’re prone to financial troubles, you might want to take a finance course first. Or consider outsourcing your payroll, accounting, and taxes. It’s often more cost and time effective to let the professionals take care of the numbers, so you can focus more on growing your business. At Guidant, we offer various business services that can help you succeed as a small business owner — even if you’re just starting out.

Looking to get a head start on creating your financial plan? Check out our 7 Tips on Creating a Strategic Financial Plan

Are You a Planner and Organizer?

Small business owners need to be the type of people who plan and keep organized. Are you good at scheduling, arranging, and filing documents? Do you manage chaotic email inboxes well — and can you keep a week stable when there’s so much on your plate?

If so, you’ll likely be a great business leader as you’ll manage paperwork, permits, receipts, orders, customer complaints, and more on a regular basis. Plus, you’ll always have to adapt and manage your business plan to ensure smooth operations. 

But don’t forget that you can always hire employees or outsource services to lessen your administrative load. Talent agencies like DOXA Talent can help you find the right employees you’ll need at a fraction of the cost. From bookkeeping to customer service to virtual assistants, and more, DOXA Talent can help you hire the talent your small business needs to grow. 


To start and run a successful business, you can learn to adopt the mindset and qualities of other successful small business owners. In general, thriving businesses have owners who are:

  • Determined and future-focused
  • Open-minded and humble
  • Adaptable and resourceful
  • Opportunistic and smart with risk
  • Excellent leaders and communicators
  • Personable and empathetic
  • Good with organization

If you exhibit some or all of these traits, it might be time for you to turn your business idea into a real business. Do you believe you have what it takes to become a successful business entrepreneur?

Call us today at 425-289-3200 for a free, no-pressure business consultation to get started — or pre-qualify in minutes for business financing now!

Daniella Cornue, a smiling woman with black long hair. Owner of Le Village Co Work, a small business in Chicago.

“I knew that I needed a funding partner that would be a reflection of the community we are trying to serve — and that is really where Guidant shines.”

Daniella Cornue, Le Village Cowork

Read the stories of REAL small business owners who work with Guidant.

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