By: Rayanna Anderson
Entrepreneurship and business startups are a major source of economic development globally, nationally and locally. In fact, Springfield honors include a number three ranking as one of the “Best Cities to Start a Business” by WalletHub; recognition by Forbes magazine as a top U.S. metro area for start-ups; and, most recently, identified by Brian Rashid, Forbes contributor, as one of seven cities that is great for business.
The historic, powerful development of entrepreneurship and small business ownership show no signs of stopping. Indeed, according to the National Survey of Entrepreneurship Education from George Washington University, GEN X and Y, or Millennial students, are exploring small business start-ups as a feasible career choice. Plus, there is no indication that this trend is slowing down with GEN Z, anyone born after 1995, making the oldest of this group 22 years old in 2017. Remarkably, Entrepreneur magazine predicts GEN Z will be the most entrepreneurial generation in history.
So, whether you are thinking about becoming a small business owner yourself or your child or family member is considering that path, here are my top six characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.
- They are self-motivated and passionate about business. Highly self-motivated and passionate small business owners are notably driven to achieve their business goals and stay on course. Passionate people who are deeply ambitious are unstoppable, and I have found passion to be the single more important characteristic to success over the years. If you don’t have passion for your business startup, you are not ready for entrepreneurship.
- Change doesn’t bother them. Being able to adapt to change is a foremost success characteristic for entrepreneurs. The path to becoming a successful small business owner is an evolution of change in projects, services, and ever increasingly in technology. Change is the only constant in business and a successful entrepreneur is always in change mode. Simply put, businesses must innovate or they will die.
- They manage money well. Even with the onset of paperless money, cash is still king. Knowing how cash flows in and out of your business is a must. Therefore, all entrepreneurs must be astute money managers. This includes knowing how your revenue model works and knowing your breakeven point — how much you have to sell to pay all the bills and take home a paycheck.
- The customer is their focus. Successful entrepreneurs know their customers inside and out and are always looking for new ones. Everything you ponder in your business must be focused on your customer, including all business policies, payment options, marketing campaigns, and any product or service changes. Your ability to be successful is based on knowing what your customers want, even if they don’t know — figure out their pain point and fix it.
- A competitive advantage is part of their business model. Having a unique business proposition is about asking why people will want to do business with you rather than a competitor. Innovation can be a big piece of this model. If you believe you have developed a unique product or concept, your next step may be to figure out a way to protect it legally so that it remains a competitive advantage. If your value proposition is based on better service, make sure you find a way to monitor that performance daily.
- They don’t go it alone. In fact, they are open to constructive criticism and input from others, including professionals and their employees. They are not afraid to ask questions and work to surround themselves with a network of resources that contribute to their success. In others words, they know what they don’t know and how to find the answer. Ego does not get in their way of seeking help.
How many of the above characteristics are a match for you? According to the U. S. Small Business Administration, 41 percent of Americans said they would become an entrepreneur in the next six months if they found the resources and tools desired. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving in Springfield as one of best places to start a business and succeed.
Rayanna Anderson, MBA, is the entrepreneurship coordinator and community liaison for Missouri State University’s College of Business. Anderson writes about issues from her 25 years of consulting with small businesses in Springfield and the state of Missouri. Contact her at RayannaAnderson@MissouriState.edu.
This article appeared in the August 26, 2017 edition of the News-Leader and can be accessed online here.