There are many important aspects of starting a small business.  You need money, for one.  How many businesses fail because the founders didn’t have enough money to carry them over until cash flow alone could keep the business going?  Although playing online slots is one way to get rich quick, you’ll likely need a more reliable source of financing for your enterprise.

Where Do You Set Up?

You need a good location.  If you’re starting a retail business, you need to balance the cost of a location in a busy mall with your available cash.  Even if you can’t afford the rent in a mall, you need the best possible location.  Many good businesses fail because the location was not good.  Being around corners where the majority of shoppers can’t see you is one likely cause of quick failure.

What Do You Sell?

You need a product or service that is in demand.  It might be both in demand and in transition from land based stores to internet marketing.  If that’s the case, you might consider starting a different business.

Here are a few characteristics you’ll need to be successful as an entrepreneur even as you have sufficient cash reserves, a good location, and a marketable product or service.  Keep in minds, that none of these characteristics include yelling at your employees or customers.

  • Be a good listener.  Your customers and your employees have different sets of needs and expectations from you.  It’s necessary to listen closely and absorb as much of what they say as possible.  M. Scott Peck, in his great book “The Road Less Travelled” said that simple listening is one of the most important skills and adult could have and that most people never cultivate good listening.
  • Be good at explaining things.  We all know many people who have a very hard time explaining things.  An accountant might know all the rules and all the laws but if he can’t explain to you what he’s doing you’ll always feel insecure.  Becoming adept at explaining things is a learned skill.  Learn it!
  • Be able to simplify things.  This is an aspect both of good listening and being good at explaining things.  Many people talk around and around a subject.  For you, being able to simplify means that when you’re listening to someone, you can figure out what they are really saying despite all the extra words they say.  As an aspect of being good at explaining things, it means making complicated subjects simple so people not trained in them can understand what you need.
  • Be encouraging.  This is far more for employees than for customers.  An employee who feels that you are as committed to hers or his success as you are to your own, will be more loyal to you and your company than one who feels you don’t care.
  • Care about everything.  Robert M. Pirsig in his great book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” began the book with a discourse about caring.  Ge used an old pair of gloves and spoke about how much he cared about them, how caring extends to everything, and how little most people feel the importance of overt caring.
  • Be respectful.  This applies to everyone.  It’s a close cousin of being a good listener and caring.
  • Be enthusiastic and positive.  This means being in a good mood no matter what.  A Jewish Rabbi of the 1st century was called Gam Zo.  In Hebrew, those words mean “also this”.  He was called Gam Zo because he remained enthusiastic and positive at all times.
  • Be focused.  You have to stay the course that you’ve set for yourself.
  • Be flexible.  You have to know when to change course when the course you’ve set for yourself is not doing so well.
  • Be creative.  You always need to be able to see new ways of doing things, new aspects of your business, new expectations from customers, employees, and suppliers.
  • Be dependable.  This is far more than paying suppliers on time.  It means giving everyone involved in your business that you won’t change the rules or your way of doing business without first explaining the changes and making absolutely sure that any changes you need to make are for the betterment of everyone.
  • Be co-operative.  Many businesses fail because the boss didn’t involve enough people in his or her decisions as they were trying to establish the business.  There was a very good reason why Sam Walton called his employees “associates”.  He really saw them as partners in a very real way.
  • Be punctual.  Nothing is worse than being late to open the business and have customers, employees, or suppliers waiting.
  • Be precise.  This applies to every business.  how many times have you been in a large department store and saw clothes strewn about on the floor or on racks in a haphazard manner?  The store may very well be understaffed.  It might be extremely successful despite the apparent disorganization.  But if you want to speak to an employee, you should be able to find one and that employees should be able either to answer any question you might have or get the answer for you.
  • Be able to laugh.  Having a good sense of humour means a lot to everyone involved in your operation.  It puts everyone at ease.  It is so important that new office managers often try to inject humour where it doesn’t belong.  Having a good sense of humour also involves knowing when joking or laughing is inappropriate.

As you go along the exciting path of entrepreneurship, you’ll find many more important characteristics of successful businesspeople.  Adopt and learn; all successful businesses are run by people who incorporate these and other characteristics in their daily life.