Five Traits of A Successful Business Owner
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Business Employment Dynamics, the survival rate for American businesses looks like:
- First Year – Roughly 80% of businesses will survive their first year in business. (Recent Bureau of Labor data shows that, of businesses opened in March 2017, 79.1% made it to March 2018.)
- Second Year – Of the same businesses opening in March of 2017, only 70% (68.7%) made it through their second year, or past March 2019
- Fifth Year – For businesses which opened in March of 2014, their survival rate past five years is only 50.9%. This means a business has only a 50/50 chance of surviving even five years.
- Tenth Year – Only 35% of businesses opened in 2009 made it past March of 2019. Two out of three businesses will not survive their tenth year.
This uphill battle for survival can appear daunting until we uncover what the owners of the surviving 35% did right to put them on a path to long-term success. There will be many variables to their success but five common personal characteristics begin to appear which positioned their businesses to make it through their first decade and beyond.
Be Your Business
Owners who are free to pursue their passion and their customers are better set for success. Businesses are like living breathing organisms which take on a character of their own. It is only when the owner is able to breath life into their business that it can florish and grow. When they have the freedom to be laser focused on their passion and their customers as their top priority they find personal satisfaction and success. They have the ability to be committed and patient because they remain in tune with their customer. Sadly, when an owner is saddled with administrative tasks of running a business, it goes on life support or dies completely.
Craft a Vision and a Strategic Business Plan
Business owners who had the time to dream of what kind of company they were creating were far more successful in the long run. Were they building a company for the next five years? The next twenty years? What will the world look like? How will they interact and change along with their customers? Maybe their vision was something much longer, the hundred-year company.
Just as an architect builds a blueprint for a skyscraper or a house, successful business owners develop a well-thought strategy and plan for their business. Building a strategic business plan is a way to solidify the path to their dream and make it a reality. An owner who can develop a strategy (with help) creates a roadmap for his future.
Create Organizational Structure
No business is successful without people. People need to know what ‘good’ looks like and when they are aligned with the vision and strategy created for the business. Successful owners will build culture and structure into their business as building blocks for future success. These will include policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities; rewards for accelerating success and consequences for deviating from the plan. Planning to invest in people is critical to realizing something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Successful owners always view their employees as their greatest asset.
Implement Support Systems
“If you want to go fast, go it alone. If you want to go far, take others with you.” -African proverb
Successful owners will have multiple support systems in place. These can range from family, mentors, friends, competitors (to make you better), technology enabled processes, and strategic partners to offload work to. These support systems allow the successful owner to focus on their passion and their customers. growing their business and living their life.
Businesses that survive ten years, or a hundred years, had the ability to communicate their vision and plan in a way that resonated with their clients and the world around them. They became recognized for who they were. How many times have you used a Kleenex that was not made by Kleenex, or a Post-It note that was not a real Post-It note. When you look at the golden arches of McDonalds, how did you know what it meant? Successful companies spend countless hours communicating who they are, what they do, and why they do it.
Having a solid marketing strategy and plan that align with your vision, strategic business plan, and organizational structure allow the world to see you how you want to be seen. Your customers are ever changing. While you were talking, they left the room. You can not call them any longer, you must text them. A marketing strategy (developed with help) keeps you connected with the many dimensions of your clients as they change and evolve over time.