We live in a new day and age when, for the first time in the history of civilization, people that could not even dream of making an impact on the world, can easily reach out to millions in a matter of seconds. Some are even able to turn their hobbies into internet businesses that make money.
Who is a successful business owner?
Wanting to start a small business and running a small business may not be the same thing. From the get-go, it is important to understand if you have it in you to become one of the successful small business owners. Crystalizing those traits may prove to be a valuable tool in assessing your readiness for becoming a small business owner — now or in the future.
How to develop a business idea
I know a woman that had a career as a nurse. She loved helping people around her. On the side, she studied tarot cards and astrology. Through the years, she had many opportunities to use her gift of ‘seeing’ more than the rest and she got a lot of positive feedback. So much so that she decided to become one of the small business owners that had booths at festivals and offered her fortune-telling services at bachelorette parties. Fast-forward several years. She has several profitable internet businesses, all in the field of mysticism. Who knew that it was even a niche?
Tarot reading: a subtle yet profitable niche
Today, the sky is the limit in many ways. But competition is tough, as it seems that everyone has a unique business idea. How do you use your own skillset and implement business ideas from home? And who do you need to be as a person to generate business ideas in the first place?
The answer is right in front of you.
(R)evolution by using your built-in skills
Many aspiring entrepreneurs today spend many months (if not years!) thinking up an e-commerce business idea that, they think, must revolutionize some industry. But it’s better to start with something manageable and closer to home. Managing a restaurant or a cafe in your neighborhood can be just good.
The goal is simple: it needs to be a profitable business idea that capitalizes on your given skill set. Of course, it must be something you are passionate about. Yes, passion is important and it’s not the same for all of us. For some, the dream is to help teenagers nationwide with their healthy nutritional habits, while for other folks it might be taking their craft home-based businesses to the world market.
Just as the woman with the tarot business, many of us for one reason or another don’t want to follow the hardships of corporate competition. Of course, having a job offers many perks, like insurance and a guaranteed paycheck. But as experience shows, what has traditionally been viewed as job security is non-existent now. People are easily fired with a moment’s notice. Projects and goals of the company have changed — so bye-bye!
Gone are the days when people worked at the same company for 40 years and retired with a gold watch as a parting gift from their employer. (By the way, do you know where the gold watch tradition came from? At factories, there were bells that announced shift beginning and end. Clocks were at best only part of the time-punching machines; there were no clocks on walls. When a person retired, they were getting a watch — and their time — back!).
Yes, entrepreneurship is a risk. But one with lots of potential for (sometimes) financial gain and for certain, personal growth. So if you are a dreamer that wants to start your own business – we salute you!
Small business owners portraits
The question inevitably comes up – do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur or a small business owner? What personality fits self-employment?
The answer is not quite so simple as successful small business owners come in many shapes and sizes (think your neighborhood nail salon owner vs. Richard Branson vs. Warren Buffet). What unifies all of those people? What makes them successful business owners? Here are a few major characteristics that are important to consider:
You must be able to set your own goals and need little supervision in fulfilling your obligations. Procrastinators must have their habit under control!
Why? Because when you chose the life of being a small business owner, there is no one that will be breathing down your neck to do the minutiae that need to get done. It’s not easy, but it’s very liberating once you stop putting things off and take charge! If you read interviews with a lot of famous entrepreneurs, you might be surprised to see that they wake up very early for a workout or meditation or even a bath. That’s some willpower!
You must always want to learn more. Ask questions and seek answers. Love research, everything from looking up a word you don’t know to explore all the possible ‘what if’s’ – even if it’s just ideas in your head.
Why? Only when you keep your mind open to new possibilities, will you be able to see opportunities. Business ideas will generate themselves in your mind. They may be quite silly at times, but you have got to be ready and open for them. Because sometimes something fruitful can grow out of them. Famous inventors and people that changed to the world often stumbled into their ideas during their explorations. Think Nikola Tesla and his electricity experiments; he wrote that he couldn’t sleep at night because he was so excited to get back to his lab in the morning. That hunger for knowledge drove him and made him famous.
Seeing the big picture
Being a detail-oriented person is important. You must be able to read numbers and spot mistakes if you are serious about having a profitable business idea. But you have to always see the bigger trends in the market, feel the winds of change in your industry and the world.
Why? You can bury yourself in the day-to-day of running a small business. But you would do yourself a service if you (at least occasionally) look beyond the little tasks and ‘see the forest, not just the trees.’ For example, if Kodak knew what was happening with the advent of digital photography, they may have avoided the virtual disappearance of their company. For small start-ups and large companies, having a vision and dreaming big are not just words. It might be a matter of survival. For a small business owner, those dreams are what get you motivated and drive you through the hard times and into a brighter future.
These character traits have been shown to help small business owners assess themselves and getting their small business started. The list can be much longer and it could be tailored to a specific industry, depending on your business ideas. Looking inside yourself, you might see that you are lacking some of these traits to be a successful small business owner. Understanding what you are inside gives you an opportunity to develop and grow as a person and one day become a business owner.
Let me give you one of my favorite inspirational stories to help you see the possibilities.
A young man in China, who dreamed of starting a business and making more money for his family. He was from a simple background in a small town. Computers were not his thing, but he thought that only if he was fluent in English, could he reach his dreams.
For several years, every weekend, he spent all his free time in the touristy part of town giving free tours to foreign visitors. He often even did it for free, because he felt that the practice that he was getting was payment enough.
Fast forward some years.
He did manage to become a business owner. We now know him worldwide. It’s Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group, and the richest man in China.
I have had the pleasure of meeting him and he now exemplifies all those characteristics outlined above. But he will gladly admit that it took time for him to become that successful business owner and yes, he had to work on his English and other skills.
I am sure that not everyone reading this wants to have such a huge business like Alibaba. Many focus more on influencing real people in their community or setting some other target for success. The most important factor is striving to become a better version of you. For your family and their financial well-being. For your business and for the community. But most importantly, for yourself.
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