According to the Small Business Administration, only 66% of businesses will make it to two years while half survive to five years.
But those numbers are a little misleading. The business closures reported by the SBA include business failures and instances when a business reorganizes, gains new partners and investors, or makes a change in business structure.
Still, the SBA stats show that no matter how many hours you put in or how skilled you become at raising capital, your business success is not guaranteed. To increase your chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur, you must have these three key qualities:
Quality #1: Problem-Solving Is Your Chief Skill
- You have clearly identified some kind of pain point. Noted entrepreneurship and human resources expert Liz Ryan says that when vying for a contract or raising capital for your business, you need a pain letter instead of a cover letter. Instead of explaining your qualifications, a pain letter identifies the problem you are uniquely positioned to solve. Take the same approach when marketing your business. If you can pinpoint the pain you are alleviating for your customers, the more successful your business will be.
- Your perspective separates you from everyone else. What is the problem that only you can solve? You will need ingenuity and awareness to solve problems and make your customers’ lives better. Uber, for example, took the annoyance of needing a ride and created the ride share industry. Maybe your idea isn’t as big as Uber, but your business will find success if you keep your eyes and ears open to opportunities .
- Your passion means you won’t stop. Passion is what separates entrepreneurs from the people who go to a job because they need money to pay their bills. Whether you’re raising capital or developing a new idea, when you are passionate and excited to work on your business, you will not let roadblocks deter you. You will simply find another way.
Quality #2: You Aren’t Afraid of Failure
Every entrepreneur needs to accept the possibility of failure. Failure can mean the inability to raise capital, making the decision to eliminate an unprofitable product line, or losing a contract you were counting on.
While the financial realities of being a business owner, like running out of working capital, are scary for many business owners, there’s also the emotional impact of failure that can leave a mark. When you own the company, you own the success – as well as the failure.
- You learn from every misstep. It’s been said that successful entrepreneurs love failure, because failure presents different learning opportunities and teachable moments than success does. Failure forces you to examine what you could do better. Whether revisiting a dysfunctional business relationship or having to scratch an unprofitable product, failure ensures that you learn from your mistakes. Success is often born from many failures: after all, WD-40 got its name because it took 40 tries to get the formula just right.
- You take the opportunities failure brings. Being an entrepreneur means being adaptable and open-minded. A strategy that succeeds today can fail tomorrow because of shifting markets or an inability to raise capital. Failure often means letting go of your original vision and opening a different door you may not have considered otherwise.
- You fall, but then you get back up. While a business failure forces you to approach your business differently, it can also force you to make realizations about your own motivation and success. What sets successful entrepreneurs apart is they have the grit to get back up and keep going, even in the face of repeated failure.
Quality #3: You Form Lasting Relationships
You don’t have a business without customers. Employees are needed to do the work that you lack the time and skills to do and are the key to business growth. Colleagues and mentors teach you how to evolve as both an entrepreneur and a leader and give insight when it comes to growing your business and raising capital. Successful entrepreneurs are only as strong as their relationships.
- You delegate. Refusal to delegate is one of the foremost causes of business failure. Even if you’re a one-person operation or you’re not prepared to hire additional employees, you can outsource certain tasks and aspects of your business. Outsourcing work that feels like busy work will free up time to focus on work that produces immediate value such as raising capital to move your business forward. Being a successful entrepreneur, means recognizing when it makes sense to trust other people to get tasks done correctly.
- You see beyond immediate needs. Have you heard the saying, “Your net worth is your network?” Business relationships aren’t limited to traditional networking events and the buying and selling of products and services. As a business owner, you need to be aware of the people and companies you do business with and if they represent your values. Successful entrepreneurs look at both the long-term and short-term aspects of these relationships and who they are aligning themselves with.
- You listen as much as you talk. Learning to hear what people are saying is a skill that takes practice and focus, but can be key in forming relationship and in leading your business. An easy way to improve your listening skills is to ask more questions. If you’re the only voice in the room, you are going to limit yourself and your business.
- You see success as more than money. Sure, the goal of a business is to make money. But if you put making money at the very top before anything else, you might find that it is harder to build the long lasting type of loyalty with your customers and employees that makes for a healthy, successful business in the long-term.
It takes a lot of tenacity to succeed as an entrepreneur. While you need to have a good sense for business, raising capital, and the financial side of things, you also need the ability to have your finger on the pulse of the problems people are trying to solve. Your passion will drive you to work hard and work smart, as you take failures in stride and learn from them instead of letting them derail you.
At the end of the day, relationships take your business beyond drive and passion: the customers that your business can’t exist without, the employees who keep your company’s heartbeat going, and the experts who share their knowledge are all cornerstones of a successful company.
Whether you’re a one-person show or have dreams of leading hundreds of employees, you will need these three qualities to achieve success as an entrepreneur.
Our mission at Swift Capital is to unleash the potential of every small business by providing them with fair and convenient access to working capital. We harness data and technology alongside personalized human expertise to see the true potential in every business. Did you like this post? Tell us what you’d like to see on our blog. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.