There are three qualities inherent in all successful entrepreneurs.
In most cases, what you start out to do will not be exactly what you’re doing when you are ultimately successful. As you roll out your enterprise, you’ll discover that things you expected to work well don’t work at all. You’ll stumble into things that you didn’t expect to work that will. You’ll see others in your industry doing things that will work well for your organization and you’ll copy them. You’ll have to be able to adapt.
Even if you are one of the lucky ones and your initial ideas work flawlessly, the world will change around you. We know an entrepreneur who went into business as a residential realtor. When the market for home sales collapsed, he morphed his business into property management since the two businesses require similar skills, but are counter-cyclical.
We’ve been forced to morph our own businesses multiple times. Polly started a business in 2002 to help small businesses remain compliant with changing employment laws. She planned to perform human-resource audits. There was a fatal flaw in her plan. Most small-business owners don’t want to know that they are out of compliance. After several months, she shifted to a focus on organizational effectiveness and workforce development.
When we started Whitestone Partners, we had a much broader focus. We tried to do everything. However, over the years we have narrowed our offerings, specializing in helping business manage the transitions from micro to small and from small to midsize.
Being adaptable is critical. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, the only thing that will be constant is change. You will have to adapt or see your enterprise swallowed up by a rising tide of change. A close second to adaptability is persistence.
Inevitably, you will encounter bumps in the road. You’ll lose big customers. Good employees will leave your company, and some may become competitors. The government will change regulations, usually making things more complex. To succeed, you will have to be willing to persist through difficult times. Nothing can take the place of persistence and you can’t succeed without it.
In addition to the willingness to persist, you will need the financial wherewithal to persist. You’ll need a cash reserve that will see you through the lean times. When considering the launch of a business assume that everything will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you expect. If you can’t afford this, delay the launch of your enterprise. Conservatism in the planning stage is often a lifesaver down the road.
3. Work ethic
The third necessary skill is the ability and the willingness to work very, very hard. Running a small business is difficult. Your days will be much longer than eight hours. If your week starts on Monday, you’ll pass 40 hours on Thursday, but you won’t slow down. You’ll be on call 24/7. Success as an entrepreneur requires hard, hard work.
Running a small business is filled with challenges, but if you are adaptable, have the willingness and the wherewithal to persist, and are willing to work very hard, you will greatly improve your odds of success. Adaptability, persistence and hard work, these are the keys to success in small business, but they are three important attributes no matter what your endeavor.