There are plenty of listicles floating around highlighting the traits successful entrepreneurs all seem to share. Based on what we’ve seen and heard from the intrepid small business owners and freelancers in our community, we’re sharing your spin on those all-important qualities – and we’re asking a burning question: Which of these qualities do you think help you the most when it comes to starting, running and growing a business?
You’re a natural-born leader. It comes naturally to you to communicate, guide, motivate and encourage others to do their best. You enjoy inspiring people to work together to achieve a common goal. Even when you’re facing a mountain of thankless tasks, you stay positive and keep the end goal – the freedom of working for yourself! – in sight.
“The key to success for any organization is the leadership and the people. If you get the leadership part right (you) then the people part should be naturally attracted to you.” —Steve Chase (@SteveChase), founder of Sequentia Solutions
You’re self-motivated. When you’re your own boss, no one’s going to bug you if you hit snooze for an hour straight in the morning or stretch your lunch break to last the entire afternoon. But, deep down, you know that as a self-employed person, every buck starts and stops with you. Thankfully, you’re inspired by challenge and ready to work tirelessly to solve any problem. No wonder you get up, get out and get on with it each and every day.
“It comes down to motivation. If I'm doing well and still enjoying it, I can push myself to work hard. If I didn't enjoy doing this, I would be miserable. But, fortunately, it's pretty fun and the success keeps me going!” —Kerrin Piche Serna, founder of The Eternal Flame
You’re self-confident. Going it alone in business takes guts and an unwavering trust in your, well, gut. You’re confident you can turn your passion into a profession and know you’ll be able to pitch, sell and promote your business to any audience. Your built-in moxie means you assume from the outset you’ve got what it takes to get the job – any job! – done.
“You should always listen to what other people have to say, but at the end of the day, you have to trust your gut.” — Travis Toyer, founder of Basik Candle Company
You’re a risk-taker (in a smart, calculated way). As an entrepreneur, you know that “risk” means more than just putting finances on the line. When you decide to start your own business, you accept that even the best-laid plans go awry and that countless challenges (both expected and unexpected) lie ahead. You even know failure is a real possibility. Does that rather grim reality-check make you feel a tiny bit daunted? Sure. Does it make you ditch your dream of working for yourself? No way. Instead, you keep calm, weigh the risks and carry on.
"I'm going to take the risks that I truly believe will pay off for me."— Nate Berkus, founder/designer of Nate Berkus
You’re adaptable. Ready to roll with the punches? Always! You know “punches” could mean anything from having to tweak your product and adjust your pricing to changing your business model or rethinking your target market. That’s no big deal because you approach each day with an open mind and a commitment to staying nimble and flexible. That’s a winning approach to life – and to business.
“After those two months [selling products at a mall kiosk] I decided, you know what, selling via a website is a little more lowkey. I can do things on my own time and I don't have to have people physically there selling the product. Since then we’ve always sold our product on our website.” — Adam Wegener, founder of Trash Amps
You’re a life-long learner (and you know you don’t have all the answers). Got a question? Lots! As a savvy entrepreneur, you have a limitless curiosity about how to do business better, faster and smarter. No wonder you’re constantly thinking, researching, reading, asking and listening. The more you ask, the more you know – and you can’t wait to learn as much as possible.
“For self-education, I have tried to find classes and workshops when available. I have read books. I have scoured the web. I have also networked, with real-life colleagues and with virtual colleagues. Lately, I have been participating in a lot of online training. It's easily accessible and usually high quality.” — @tamalita, freelance bookkeeper
You’re good at managing money. You don’t have to be an accounting whiz to know making smart financial decisions is critically important to your business. If you don’t have such skills yourself, you know the value of hiring someone to help you manage your money wisely. You’ve seen businesses go under due to poor financial decisions, and you’ll do what it takes to avoid making the same mistake.
“Until I started working for myself, I’d always avoided making money the center my life. That mindset definitely made things chaotic. I knew I needed help. So, I hired an outside accounting/bookkeeping agency that specializes in working with non-profits. Relinquishing control and recognizing my limitations has been a big mind-shift for me. I’ve grown up a bit, I guess.” — Jeremy Malman, founder of Worth Motorcycle Company
You’ve got a sense of humor. Telling jokes may not be part of your official business model, but your ability to laugh – at yourself or a situation you’re in – sure helps when stress is high and pressure is mounting. Your willingness to step back and see the funny in the fraught helps you stay positive, creative and focused.
“Officially my title was Operations Manager, but … I decided to get a special batch of business cards made just for special occasions. From time to time we would get an irate customer … and I would grab one of the special cards and hand it to the client while I introduced myself by name and never by title. I always got the same question. ‘Where is the manager? I asked for the manger!’
So, I very calmly replied, ‘That's me, I am him.’
And again, like clockwork, they would respond, ‘But that's not what your card says.’
I would say, ‘I know, but since I am the guy who has to clean up the messes around here, I felt JANITOR was a more appropriate title.'
99.9% of the time, it did the job! It diffused the situation and allowed us to work toward a friendly solution.” — Matthew Fulton (@ParkwayInc), founder of Parkway Business Solutions
I’ve been self-employed for most of my career as content specialist, so I know how much discipline and determination it takes to run your own business. As QB Community Content Chief, I love sharing the stories of people committed to doing things their way. I hope you’ll join our community and share your inspiring story!