Do you have what it takes to outlast your business? All too often, business owners, directors and managers hurt the long-term survival of their companies because they either don’t realize their shortcomings or lack the ability to do something about them before it’s too late.
A recent study conducted by the Guardian Life Small Business Institute discovered six traits that characterize success-oriented small business owners. How many of these traits do you have? How can you make up for areas of weakness? Here are some pointers.
- Collaborate, But Also Motivate
According to the study, effective delegation and building strong personal relationships with employees, customers and third-party providers are key components to true collaboration. However, collaboration is more than simply asking someone to take on a task. A leader empowers others to stretch and go beyond their comfort zone by creating opportunities that otherwise would not have existed.
Avoid creating opportunities just for the sake of goodwill. Helping someone without any inherent personal or professional benefit might be seen as busywork without a purpose. Have a clear plan in mind with a substantial measurement component so that all activities can be properly evaluated.
Remember when a job was just a job instead of a career? Successful owners and professionals definitely want to enrich their careers by focusing on continuous improvement and lifelong learning. The owner is the heart and soul of the business, so how can the owner expect others to experience success if he or she has a lack of interest?
Much like the pros write their own job descriptions to match their skills, leaders should create an environment that gives their employees this much-needed validation. At its core, this can be done by creating a dynamic set of annual goals. And yes, even the head of the company should have goals.
- Stay Focused on the Future
We’ve all known CEOs and owners who run their companies by the seat of their pants. Ask them for their long-range business plan and you’re likely to receive the company’s mission statement. The well-adjusted, seasoned professional on the other hand has an ever-watchful eye on the future for the well being of all employees and customers.
While a view to the future may seem hypothetical to some, it’s worth it to conduct an annual blue sky session. With unlimited funds and the staff to make anything happen, what would your future look like? Once the blue sky ideas are discussed, the company can begin to break these ideas down into more viable chunks.
- Be as Curious as Possible
All of us can learn life lessons from Curious George, the monkey who constantly got in trouble while metaphorically learning how to handle any malady that came his way. Curiosity was discovered as one of the six traits in the study because business owners, like entrepreneurs, have a natural curiosity about all kinds of matters. This makes perfect sense; if the leader of a company is not naturally interested in everything, how can he expect others to be curious?
- Learn About Technology
This trait is self-explanatory. No matter what kind of technology infrastructure a company has, today’s business owner must know more than just how to turn on a computer. Although the leader does not have to be certified in systems and processes, a working knowledge of technology is very important. Too much of our world focuses on technology as an enabler. One of the best ways to learn more about it is to read about best practices in similar industries, attend technology conferences and have conversations with colleagues and IT professionals.
- Be Part of the Action
The final trait seemingly complements most of the other traits and is designed to propel a company from “doing business as usual” to “let’s blow their socks off.” Leaders who are action-oriented get things done. They are the visionaries who know that their business cannot remain complacent. This is also a great time to involve other leaders in the company because it is through this collective brain trust that a business can truly succeed.
Business owners and upper management have a great deal on their plates, especially in this economy. However, they must pay attention to how the company improves the bottom line instead of just assuming improvements occur organically. These traits paint an accurate picture of a business leader who is confident, well-adjusted and nurturing of others.