Business Development, Career Development, Entrepreneurship

Characteristics of Successful Small Business Owners

Woman stands over work desk in black suit

Many people get into business because they have a great idea they want to bring to life, but it takes more than a great vision to build success. Beyond business basics, like building processes for efficiency, diversifying assets and streams of income, and setting up a business plan, of the 10% of businesses that make it past the 10-year mark, their leading-edge small business owners share the following characteristics. 

The most successful small business owners don’t assume they know what their client wants or needs. While all successful businesses solve problems and/or serve needs, some small business owners lack a deep understanding of the issues that their potential clients face and how those problems affect their lives. Because of that, they also don’t fully comprehend all the ways their product or service can fill those gaps to make their customer’s life better, easier or richer. 

In other words, based on their clients’ perspectives, these small business owners don’t know how to relay the value of their offer in a way that connects deeply, and if a client can’t see the value in the offer, they won’t buy it. 

This is why the most successful small business owners go to the source and spend a great deal of time talking to people or getting feedback in other ways. They ask how their offering makes a difference, what it might be missing and how they might be able to make it even better for the people who need it most. They then use that knowledge to guide their business planning, product development, client interactions and marketing campaigns. Which brings us to the next characteristic. 

Great small business owners have the ability to see the now and plan for the future. They understand that leaving a legacy through their business requires the ability to do both. 

As a start up, there will be many times when you must make do with what you have. To get past bootstrapping your business, you must work your business plan based on where you are now, and consistently look for the opportunities that will lead to sustained growth. 

Successful entrepreneurs strategize and they allow room for agility and adaptability within their business plans. If 2020 taught us anything, it is that we can’t know what will happen for certain in the future. If we don’t allow for flexibility and evolution in our businesses, we will fail. 

We must give ourselves the opportunity to adapt to changes. Successful small business owners check in regularly with their business plans to see where they are on target and where they are missing the mark, then they adjust to get back on course or plot a different one based on the information they have now. That kind of agility and willingness to shift directions makes all the difference to your longevity in business. 

The skill for finding the right people is also an important characteristic that successful small business owners optimize. Trying to do everything on your own will slow your growth. The most effective business owners enlist help or hire people who can efficiently do the things they are not good at. By utilizing other people’s skills and talents, they can focus their own efforts on their areas of expertise, thereby optimizing their efficiency and opportunities for success. 

There are many people in your network who would be willing to assist you by trading services or simply volunteering their time if you are in a place where you can’t hire someone yet. This is one of the reasons why scheduling time each week to make meaningful connections and build your power of association is a key part of building your business and leaving a legacy. 

Productive small business owners are life-long learners. They know expanding their growth will expand their businesses too. This is why they look for ways to gain wisdom from other people’s experiences, leveraging that gained knowledge to advance their success, with far less stress and hardship. They actively engage in personal development and invest in mentors, coaches and courses to help grow themselves and their businesses. Learning from others is a faster way to become successful!


Prosperous small business owners take financial literacy very seriously. To make money you must understand it and how it works in your business. Even if you outsource to a bookkeeper or accountant, you still need to know your numbers, study your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), set your financial goals and implement checks and balances to make sure your business is on track and that your money is safely where it is supposed to be.

Finally, one of the greatest characteristics that the most successful small business owners have is that they learn from failures. As Napoleon Hill said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” Small business owners will likely face all those things at some point in their careers, but the ones who survive to leave lasting legacies use their failures to fuel their growth. They take the information they gain from their experiences and apply it, helping them make better plans and decisions to advance their businesses further. 

crisis and opportunity written on black chalkboard. crisis crossed out and opportunity underlined.

I hope that reviewing these characteristics of successful small business owners helps you as you grow yourself and your business. And I want you to remember that as a small business owner, you are never alone. There are business communities, mentors and coaches who can serve and support your business and personal development, as well as help you expand your powers of association and optimize the opportunities that come with it.

If you would like to work with a Master Mentor who has built several multi-million-dollar companies, including the Rich Dad Company, I invite you to apply for my Master Mentor Program. You will accelerate your results when we work together!


“I’ve known Sharon Lechter for years and she’s made a profound difference in my life and the life of so many people. If you get a chance to work with her, if you get a chance to experience her guidance, it can change your life forever.” – Brian Tracy, Best Selling Author and Motivational Speaker   

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