How to Predict Which Business Owners Will Succeed

Do You Need A Crystal Ball to Predict Which Entrepreneurs Will Be Successful?

Not really.  And it doesn’t have as much to do with how well you know your field as you think.  You can be the best accountant out there, and yet fail miserably at running your own business.  Why?

Angela Duckworth, professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania noticed this phenomenon in children.  School kids, even the brightest and the best, often didn’t have what it took to succeed in school. 

Prof. Duckworth began a research project, the results of which are now beginning to show up in school curriculums. Her conclusions?

There are 7 character traits that guarantee success in school, business and life far better than knowledge or even IQ.  What are they and how do they relate to the small business owner?

1.  Zest. 

Translate this as ‘passion’.  If you have passion for your business, you are insatiable about learning and you help others to feel the same enthusiasm.  Take zest away, and you may as well be working for an hourly wage.

2.  Self-Discipline

This quality is twofold.  You need self-discipline to get out of bed in the morning and go to work when you are the boss – even if this means putting on your bunny slippers and scuffing to your home office.  No one is going to fire you if you don’t show. 

Successful business owners can stay focused on their goals.  They don’t let distractions get in the way and almost never procrastinate when it comes to rolling up their sleeves and dong the hard stuff.  (I say almost because all of us sometimes spend too much time reading the NY Times, or visiting on Facebook.  The trick is self-regulation)

Self-discipline is also learning how to harness your emotions.  A successful entrepreneur can’t let emotion lead over logic and reason.  Knowing how to control your anger means you have finally entered adulthood.  You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that those who can’t control their emotions are often stuck in lower management positions until they die of boredom.  Your ability to remain calm in the face of chaos means you retain control over almost any situation.

3.  Gratitude

The researchers defined this as ‘recognizes and shows appreciation for others’.  As a small business owner, recognizing and showing appreciation for your employees, your vendors, your clients and most of all yourself is key to developing a collaborative relationship.  You will shine as an outstanding example others want to emulate, and will attract like-minded people as stakeholders.

4.  Curiosity

Without curiosity, you won’t learn.  Quit learning, and you won’t grow.  As a person, or a business.  In order to keep up with technology, new developments in your field and give your customers the best experience, its imperative you continue to explore new, deeper, and better ways to run your business.  Curiosity encourages flexibility; a powerful trait. Those who are curious are willing to risk failure to gain success.

A curious small business owner listens to others, and then takes the initiative to find out more.  The trick is to know that you never actually ‘arrive’ – everything you learn opens new avenues for knowledge, growth, and exploration.

5.  Optimism

This one is so important; it should have been #1.  A pessimist who succeeds in business is as rare as a purple spotted unicorn. 

You will experience many setbacks, disappointments, frustrations and challenges.  There will be times you are overwhelmed and may not feel like getting out of bed.  How you deal with these feelings determines if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. 

Do you keep putting one foot in front of the other?  Great.  Sometimes you won’t feel as if you are ready for the race, but you can find it within yourself to continue to move forward.  Believing that your efforts will result in improvements in the future of your business is key.  Knowing you need to work not only hard but effectively and having the strength of character to pick yourself up, brush off your butt and move is the hallmark of a
successful person.

6.  Grit

Grit is defined as persistence and resilience.  As a small business owner, it is guaranteed that you will encounter setbacks, obstacles, and even failures.  It’s how you continue on your journey undaunted, even though the road is littered with potholes and boulders, that will set you apart from your competition. 

Successful business owners know they are in the game for the long haul.  They never take their eyes off the goal no matter how many things get in their way.  They have the wherewithal to finish what they start.  Grit is innate toughness – the kind that makes you keep going through good times and bad.

7.  Social Intelligence

While most of these character traits have to do with how you view yourself and your own ability, social intelligence is the measure of how you view and interpret the words and actions of others.

Your ability to have respect for others depends upon how astute you are at reading their feelings and motives.  How you navigate those feelings and motives enables you to resolve conflict, collaborate, become solution-oriented, and show empathy. 

And one more.

Be conscientious.  Having the ethics and sincerity to follow through with your promises – to your employees, your customers and yourself.  A conscientious business owner is aware of the impact her values have on her business and community.

Think you have what it takes?  Are you in business but feel you’ve misplaced one or more of these traits?  The Wild Women have solutions for you!  Check us out:  or join one of our low-cost ‘Brainstorming Thursdays’.  You’ll come away with Zest once again.

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