I can give you all the tools in the world and some of you will still not be as successful as you like. Why? What will make the difference between you and another reader of this blog? I recently participated in a program for Girl Scouts that taught girls business skills and how to become an entrepreneur. During that program we looked at being a business owner from many different aspects.
What does it take to be a successful business owner? What skills and personality traits are necessary? I asked some friends of mine who are all women business owners this question, so I could share them with the girls in the Girl Scout program. Their answers were very enlightening. Valuable enough, in fact, that I thought I'd also share them with you.
My friend Anna Campbell founded and runs Women Business Owners, http://www.womenbizowners.org, a non-profit that works with you to make your business work. She says you need to be confident, understanding, responsible, willing to learn, willing to fail, willing to learn again. You need to understand that you spend money to make money. You need to know how to communicate with others and how to delegate. Confidence, understanding, responsibility - these were mentioned by several of the women. I've heard "fake it till you make it" repeatedly. That phrase always bothered me until I understood that what they meant was to exhibit confidence when dealing with customers and clients. How can you expect them to have faith in your abilities if you don't have faith in yourself?
Caryn Isaacs expresses this need for confidence another way. Caryn is a patient advocate at Resource Evaluation Leaders, Inc. http://reli.com/. She says that belief in your dream is key. You can be afraid that you don't have what it takes, but the dream should be bigger than you. Once you take the first step, the business develops a life of its own. You just need to jump on for the ride. She states that she has never known anyone who succeded, if the goal was just to make money. The driving force is finding your passion, learning everything you can about the history of that field and then just get up and do at least one thing everyday, make a call, read an article or just think about your next move. Finally, reward yourself for a job well done.
Gazelle Simmons, Virtual Assistant/Owner of Admin Services, http://www.admnsrvcs.com, also lists belief as a key factor. Persistence, determination, ambition, honesty, courage and belief in yourself as well as your abilities - these are all part of Gazelle's list of necessary traits.
According to Ingrid Gonzalez, you need to have an entrepreneurial spirit. Now what exactly is that? How about all of the factors we already listed! According to Ingrid, you must be willing to take risks, be organized, be a leader, learn how to handle rejections as it's part of the package, work well under pressure, be a decision-maker, be up to date with technology. She should know. She successfully runs two business: Alco Consultants, LLC http://www.alcoconsultants.com and Dainty Beads http://www.daintybeads.com.
Kristine Sheehan, The Merry Bird, http://www.themerrybird.com, listed many of the same traits - sanity, patience, kindness, perserverance, and desire to succeed.
I really like the way my friend Dawna Jones put it. Dawna calls herself an Evolutionary Provocateur and her company is InSight Out Consulting, Inc. http://www.frominsighttoaction.com/. As you can see, Dawna looks at things in a more unique and creative fashion. When asked what personality traits were needed for business success, she stated "heart of a wolf; strength of a bear; self-discipline (is what horses have that keeps them from betting on people); see like a spider...the interconnections and relationship between everything you do and its impact on others: suppliers, customers, key relations. Wolves are family; Bear is introspection and goals ..the capacity to focus...oh and a great sense of humor helps. There is no such thing as failure. "
Do you see a common theme here? It's not just about the money. If that's all you're focusing on, you're doomed to be less successful than you could be. In order to really succeed you have to have passion for your work. Then be willing to learn all you can about your chosen business. If you stumble (notice I did not say fail. As Dawna said, there is no such thing as failure), learn from the mistake and keep going. Have courage! Take a risk and be prepared to spend a little money to make money. Anyone who tells you that you can start a business for free is dreaming or a scam artist. You make not have to spend $1000s but you will have to spend some. Be responsible. Remember, everything you do will impact your business either positively or negatively. Be disciplined. You can't work two hours a week and expect to have a prosperous business. Just because many of these women work from their homes does not mean they do not work as many hours or more than you do. If you can, set aside some space that is solely dedicated to your business. If you have a room you can turn into an office, that's great. But even a corner of the kitchen will work. Then every morning, get up, get dressed, and go to work. While you are at work, don't let anything else interfere. Dishes can wait. Tape your favorite soap. Don't answer the door. You are at work. Set a goal for what you want to accomplish that day before you can "go home." I was taught to use a point system. I must earn 4 points each day before I can stop working. Each of the activities I do that are business related have been assigned a point value. When I have 4 points, I can stop. Of course, once I've earned my 4 points for the day, I'm usually so excited about my work that I stay a little longer.
I think I'll end by sharing what my friend Marilyn Jenet, founder of Feel Free to Prosper, http://www.FeelFreetoProsper.com, said when she responded to the question.
"These great minds said it best (these are from my memoir, "Feel Free to Prosper: an Entrepreneurial Memoir of Synchronicity and Guidance")
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Haven’t you heard of the "entrepreneur’s creed?" It was drafted by Patrick Henry in 1775…
I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
~ Patrick Henry
Okay, I know he wasn’t referring to entrepreneurship, but it’s still the same idea to those of us who listen to our own drummer. So maybe Thoreau was a bit closer to the truth."