Q: Are there certain characteristics, like independence, determination, confidence, or having good people skills, that you need to be your own boss, or can anyone do it? Stated differently, what qualities are essential for success as a business owner?
A: Self-employment is definitely not for everyone. Whether you're working alone or manage a staff of thousands, the burden of running the show can be too onerous for all but a few. Here are my ideas of what it takes to thrive as your own boss:
You're a self-starter and find initiating projects and assuming responsibility stimulating and empowering. You can't understand people who say they'd never accomplish anything without constant outside pressure. You love juggling competing responsibilities and wearing many different hats. You crave interaction with others and naturally attract people to you. You're stimulated by risk; you work harder and more effectively when you're 100 percent accountable for your results.
Most important, you hunger to control your own destiny. Loss of security and the unrelenting responsibility of having everything rest on your shoulders seem small prices to pay for the privilege. If owning a business works for you it will be because you have a passion for the work you are doing. You feel that your business is serious and important, worth spending all of your time working on. You have a tight handle on the financial side of your business and you plan ahead carefully. At the same time, you aren't afraid to take risks. You are confident in yourself and your abilities, understand that failures happen, and have the determination to keep going when things don't work out. You are adaptive and willing to pivot when you encounter obstacles that can't be overcome.
Of all the skills that successful business owners need to succeed the ability to network is indispensible. Businesses depend on quality relationships with vendors, customers, peers, and the community as a whole. Successful business owners are adept at negotiation and self-promotion. They project a positive and attractive energy that helps turn every encounter into a winning pitch for their business's services. Successful business owners understand their customers and their market. They seek relationships that help strengthen and support their position in the market.
This doesn't mean becoming an egotist. Successful business owners are also humble and open-minded. They are ready to hear constructive criticism and consider the merits of other positions. If you are more interested in meeting goals than being right you may have the pragmatism needed for a successful business.
Finally, creativity and excitement are important traits that contribute to all of the others previously listed. Your enthusiasm, problem solving, and inspiration are largely responsible for keeping a business in motion. The energy you bring to your business will help keep you active and motivated. It signals to peers and potential customers in the community that your business is on an upward trajectory, and will help you adapt to avoid or overcome resistance.
If you felt a tingle of recognition in response to this description, and said, "Yes, that's me," you've got the right traits to make it on your own.