A popular topic of conversation has always been to ask what I did before retiring.  After I give my little spiel about “having the smallest conglomerate in the world,” a lot of people comment that they would like or would have liked to go into business themselves.

So if anyone’s interested, here’s an outline of 11 Traits Those in Business Share in Common and the 7 Mistakes That Can Kill Your Business.  These are guides, not tests.

  • An eye for opportunity

Many successful entrepreneurs begin by sensing a need, then moving quickly to fill it.  This is either an entirely new product or service, or something as simple as opening the only children’s clothing store in a large mall.

  • An appetite for hard work

Most entrepreneurs work long, hard hours.  They focus on their real priorities, especially when times are tough.  (Those who avoid the tough problems by burying themselves in their original area of expertise often fail.)

  • Discipline

It’s not just how hard you work, but the way you work that counts.  Successful owners/managers resist the temptation to do what comes easiest.  Instead, they do what is most essential.

  • Independence

Typical entrepreneurs have a strong drive toward independence, plus the ability to be a good team player when the need for cooperation arises.

  • Self-confidence

Entrepreneurs must be extremely self-confident to accept the risks involved in starting a business.  This helps them overcome enormous obstacles to achieve their goals.  In addition, they can temper their self-confidence with objectivity and change course and cut losses when necessary.

  • Adaptability

Successful entrepreneurs adjust to the changing demands of a growing business and develop the skills to deal with them.  They become managers of other people’s work so their business can grow quickly and achieve spectacular success.

  • Judgment

Entrepreneurs make wise decisions without taking too much time to make up their minds.  When they lack the knowledge to make sound decisions on their own, they seek information and advice without hesitation.

  • Ability to tolerate stress

Entrepreneurs face many crises on the road to prosperity.  To survive, they often unwind with sports and hobbies.  Many are encouraged by the understanding of their spouses and families.

  • Need to achieve

Successful entrepreneurs have a single-minded, almost compulsive desire to succeed.  Although financial rewards are important, they are often secondary in the drive towards personal achievement.

  • A focus on profits

Running a business brings many rewards—independence, community prestige, personal satisfaction—but entrepreneurs never lose sight of the need to make a profit.  They know that return on investment is the ultimate measure of success.

  • Self-awareness

Almost ALL entrepreneurs start with some weaknesses.  Those who succeed recognize their limitations and are always ready to seek and use outside help when the situation demands it.

Seven Mistakes That Can Kill Your Business:

  • Running out of cash

In the euphoria of starting a business, it’s easy to overlook the gap between making the first sales and banking the money.  Often the wait is too long and many new companies run out of cash.  A cash-flow budget helps you predict highs and lows in time to take corrective action fast.

  • Not knowing your customers

Changes in your customers’ preferences and your competitor’s products can leave you in the dust—unless you get to know who your audience really is, what they want now, and will likely want next.

  • Doing it all on your own

You might be the key to everything but you cannot DO everything and grow at the same time.  Even modest initial success can overwhelm you unless you hire staff and delegate responsibility.  But how do you hire the right person in the right place at the right time—and at the right price?

  • Ignoring employees

Motivating and managing your employees is one of your greatest challenges.  More employees mean more “people problems.”  Left unresolved, they can destroy morale, productivity and profits.

  • No business plan

If you rely purely on instinct to guide your business instead of a written plan, you’re headed for trouble.  A plan helps you focus on where your company is going and why…and how you’re doing along the way.  Creating a plan is simple, if you follow the guidelines.

  • Computer chaos – you have to be computer literate

Computers offer many benefits, but unless you know how to harness their power you risk a nightmare of confusion and waste, in time and money.  Learn the key decisions you should make before buying or changing systems.

  • Ignore the numbers – it’s not how much money to have in the bank

As an owner/manager, your primary goal is to make a profit.  You need to know where you stand on a regular basis (monthly), with a timely system of recording and analyzing key financial data.


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