What are the Most Common Traits of Successful Small Business Owners? 50 Experts Reveal the Top Characteristics

most common characteristics of successful small business owners
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Every year, there are millions of small business professionals who attempt to make it work in their own small business ventures. Armed with a great business plan, adequate capital, organization and motivation, many hopeful entrepreneurs assume that this is all that’s needed to achieve success. However, the reality is that building a successful small business isn’t that simple.

While there is no foolproof method that can guarantee that your small business plan will succeed, one way to give yourself an advantage is by learning from highly successful business owners who have been able to reach their goals.

As a company that works closely with aspiring small business owners and entrepreneurs, we took on the task of discovering what characteristics of an individual might be able to contribute to business success, and specifically, what personality traits are most common among the most highly successful business owners according to the experts. To do that, we asked 50 small business experts the following question:

“What’s the #1 most common trait of highly successful small business owners (and why is it so important to their success)?”

We’ve collected and compiled their expert advice into this comprehensive guide to understanding what personality traits most highly successful small business owners all share. See what our experts said below.

traits of successful business owners and entrepreneurs

Meet Our Panel of Small Business Success Experts:

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Bob BentzBob Bentz

Bob Bentz is the President of ATS Mobile. Originally called Advanced Telecom Services, the company has had a successful 25-year run and has offices in Philadelphia, Toronto, London, and Prague. Learn more about Bob at his website, www.BobBentz.com.

The most common traits of successful small business owners are…

An ethic of hard work and creating an enjoyable work environment.

Leading by example and putting in the extra time is absolutely necessary, because a small
business doesn’t have an extensive staff so the owner needs to wear many hats and be good at them all.

Perhaps more important, however, is that small business must provide a family-oriented work atmosphere that rewards employees in ways that larger companies cannot like being flexible. I can say that no employee of our company has ever missed one of their kids’ after-school sporting events. That’s something we can provide that large companies can’t.

Norma MaxwellNorma Maxwell

Norma Maxwell is the Founder and Designer at Connect Interactive, LLC, full service creative agency that specializes in WordPress website design, development and strategic online success building.

The most common trait of highly successful small business owners is…

The ability to build relationships.

Relationships are the lifeblood of any business, but especially small businesses who rely on relationships with other businesses in their network and happy customers for referrals, as well as happy employees who want to stay, and are committed to provide the best possible service.

Lloyd_ShefskyLloyd E. Shefsky

Lloyd E. Shefsky is Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at Kellogg School of Management, as well as founder and Co-Director of the school’s Center for Family Enterprises and cofounder of its Center for Executive Women. Co-Founder of several businesses and nonprofits, he has taught, lectured, and spoken in China, Japan, Thailand, Canada, Israel, and throughout the United States. “Invent Reinvent Thrive” is Shefsky’s first book since his 1994 debut, “Entrepreneurs Are Made Not Born”. Shefsky has coached, consulted, and mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs, often from earliest stages through expansions, public offerings, sales of businesses, and succession to one or two additional generations of the
founders’ families.

The common thread that consistently leads to long-term career success for small business owners is…


Not just how to reinvent concepts and ideas from the start, but how to continuously innovate and reinvent one’s self and business to meet constantly changing conditions in the marketplace with proven models of what works and what doesn’t.

Here are some key points to focus on when striving to Reinvent oneself:

Reinvention – While it may be exponential (e.g., changing an industry or society), it often consists of incremental skill changes or simply adding new skills to your quiver.

Naysayers – The prevailing advice is “ignore them.” Not so. Their negative comments should help guide your homework, the goal being to know more than the naysayers and to possibly overwhelm their stuck-in-a-rut adherence to the past, enabling out-of-the-box reinvention.

Explaining the dream – You must explain the dream so others (potential investors, employees, customers, suppliers) see it as well as you do. Many don’t do this. They give potential backers a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle but don’t give them the picture on the puzzle box cover. Some focus on minutia– such as “I’ll serve great coffee” – when the key is in the big picture not the cup of coffee.

Experience– I’m often asked, “Should I work in an industry before starting a business in that industry?” That can actually hurt, by limiting your perspective so that you miss opportunities. You may be focusing but you should be focusing without blinders. Then you must violate an industry rule here and there in order to create something new and different i.e. reinvent. Instead, figure out the best of your experience in another industry and how it can be applied to the new industry where you are starting a business.

Loyalty – Don’t be too wed (loyal) to 1.) Your original idea i.e., the dream you bought and sold to everyone. It may have been best then and be worst now; 2.) Your earliest hires, as the business may have outgrown their skills. And remember, loyalty to the wrong employee is disloyalty to all the others.

Noelle NelsonDr. Noelle Nelson

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D. is a psychologist, trial consultant and author of “Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy”. Her approach to using appreciation to solve issues facing businesses today is the result of over 25 years of practice studying and understanding people gleaned from the rigorous world of business litigation. Learn more about Noelle and her work at http://noellenelson.com/.

The most common traits of highly successful small business owners is…

Their understanding of their employees and their ability to appreciate, guide, communicate with their employees. Specifically:

Successful small business owners make their employees feel appreciated-that they matter as individuals and to the company. One way they show this appreciation is they clearly communicate the duties and responsibilities of their employees so employees know what is expected of them. You can’t live up to what you don’t know. When employees aren’t given clear direction and a thorough understanding of the company’s expectations, they won’t do their jobs properly or get frustrated and just leave. Employees may have held similar jobs elsewhere, or even similar positions within the company, but each company, each department and its job expectations are different.

Successful business owners know that giving their employees proper guidance is also a way of showing their employees that they care about them, that they are important to the company and its success.

Successfully small business owners also know that they must give their employees the tools, training and sufficient time to accomplish their tasks and meet company goals. Few things make employees feel as unappreciated, frustrated and unhappy as not having the appropriate resources for the job. They also give employees regular targeted feedback on their work in a positive manner. Feedback is critical to the employee’s ability to know what they’ve done right, and what needs improvement.

Finally, successful small business owners know that they must be clear with employees as to what the employees can expect in terms of earning potential, and how they can earn bonuses, raises and promotions. They understand that employees will work hard when they feel appreciated, and part of appreciating their employees is letting them know how their hard work will be meaningfully rewarded.

Danielle and David KunkleDaniel and David Kunkle

Danielle and David Kunkle are sibling Co-founders of Boomer Benefits. Founded in 2005, their family-owned agency is committed to helping Medicare beneficiaries research and select the right Medicare insurance policy. While they are based in Fort Worth, TX, Boomer Benefits assists people with their Medicare insurance needs in over 40 states.

The traits that we notice regularly in other successful small business owners are…

1) A natural ability for numbers, which is crucial in order to calculate potential risk and potential reward for any scenario, and then act accordingly.

2) They are risk takers, and the risks come on several different levels. There is obviously the financial risk since most owners pour some of their own capital into a small business, or take a personal loan out to fund the business venture. They also risk their reputation because opening a business and failing at would be a stunning blow to any person’s confidence. Yet there people take this risk across America every day, and are willing to do it because the potential reward offsets the risk. Business risk takers are naturally confident – they believe in themselves and their ability to make this project succeed.

3) They are willing to give away a significant portion of their life to see the business succeed. We have been working 12 – 14 hour days for nearly a decade, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Every other agency owner that I know does exactly the same thing. Building something like this from the ground up is so exciting that it consumes your every waking moment and thought. Even when you are home for a few hours to sleep, your mind never stops running through the night. You often wake up with a resolution to a problem in your head, because your brain was percolating on that problem all night long, and you solved it in your sleep.

Yuen YungYuen Yung

Yuen Yung is the Co-Founder of How Do You Roll? (originally called Maki), which he founded in 2008 with his brother Peter Yung. How Do You Roll? is a custom sushi shop that the duo began franchising under HDYR, LLC in 2010. Yuen has developed a company culture focused on work ethic, coachability, betterment, integrity and emotional competence. Prior to co-founding How Do You Roll?, Yuen was a partner at Kenty, Yung, Ozias & Associates, a financial services franchise of Ameriprise.

The most common trait among successful small business owners is…

The ability to multitask, and specifically, knowing how to juggle three major things:

1. Being a CEO
2. Being a Marketer
3. Being a Technician

The hardest thing about small business is that you have to be able to deal with the day to day and also be able to not just work in the business but on the business.

Robert ReidlRobert L. Reidl

Robert L. Riedl, CPA, CFP, AWMA is the Director of Wealth Management of Endowment Wealth Management, with 30 years of professional experience consulting with client families, businesses and institutions. He began his career at Arthur Anderson & Co., as a staff accountant, serving the needs of small business clients. He went on to be the Founder and President of Fox Valley Spring Company and President of Oak-Bay Corporation. Additionally, Rob held a consultant role providing strategic advice to entrepreneurs in areas such as corporate structure, customer base, product mix and systems.

I think there are many traits of successful small business entrepreneurs, but the one I see all the time is as follows:

They remained focused on the opportunity to be successful and are not distracted by the possibility of failure. They are always all in and never give up!

Paige Arnof-FennPaige Arnof-Fenn

Paige Arnof-Fenn is the Founder & CEO of global marketing firm Mavens & Moguls based in Cambridge, MA. She is a graduate of Stanford University & Harvard Business School and has written monthly columns for both Entrepreneur & Forbes, in addition to being a popular keynote speaker and panelist.

I started my company 14 years ago and I think the most common trait among successful business owners is…


Successful people just do not give up. They keep finding new paths when one way shuts down they find others. They are scrappy and resourceful. They never quit. It is a critical skill to stay optimistic and find creative solutions as problems arise. We business owners are tough! It is not how many times you get knocked down, success is about getting back up each & every time.

Todd HortonTodd Horton

Todd Horton is the Founder/CEO of KangoGift, which Entrepreneur Magazine called a “brilliant idea for making employee recognition instant and effective”. Todd is a big believer in the power of celebrating great work in a timely way and is proud to partner with companies such as IBM to help organizations develop their corporate cultures.

The most common trait successful small business owners possess is…


Others may call it grit, but I like to use perseverance. These people have the ability to stick with their business vision when others find it too difficult and would change course. The benefit of this commitment is a successful business with purpose that customers enjoy interacting with on a regular basis.

Bob ShirillaBob Shirilla

Bob Shirilla is lifetime entrepreneur and current owner of several eCommerce properties, one of which is Simply Bags. It was in 2000 that Bob and his business partners decided it was time for a change of scenery and migrated their brick and mortar stores to the internet, which has led to great results.

The most common trait of highly successful small business owners is…

The aptitude to be a visionary who also has discipline.

Success is not a function of situation. Success is a matter of mindful choice and discipline, and mindful choice can be created by developing a detailed Strategic Business plan. The plan will describe a vision of your future and a detailed plan to achieve that vision. The discipline required to complete the plan, comes from the heart.

Molly DyeMolly Dye

Molly Dye is the President of MDF Designs, LLC and CEO & Founder of CareZips.

I believe the key to success in a small business that the most highly successful individuals understand is…

The ability to follow-up and follow-through on every idea, comment, complaint, and request.

If you tell someone you are going to do something, you do it in a timely manner. If you can’t, you tell them why. It is called closing the loop with people or as a former boss used to teach us “close the circle”. Follow through with utmost persistency is the key to success.

Craig-WolfeCraig Wolfe

Craig Wolfe is the Founder and CEO of CelebriDucks, the first ever collectible celebrity rubber ducks modeled after the greatest icons of film, music, athletics, and history. Prior to founding CelebriDucks, Craig was the largest publisher of artwork from television commercials, creating the first ever animation art lines for Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Bush, M&M/Mars, etc. He eventually sold it all off to create CelebriDucks, which has since experienced massive success. To date, CelebriDucks has sold over one million products worldwide and were voted one of the top 100 gifts by Entertainment Weekly. CelebriDucks have been featured on nearly every major network including NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS Evening Magazine, CNN, ESPN, TNT, VH1, A&E, and more.

The number one trait of all great entrepreneurs and highly successful small business owners alike is…

A tremendous passion and love for their product and/or service, such that whether things are good or bad, they have the patience and capacity to persevere that is nothing short of remarkable.

If you don’t have this core strength of belief and passion, when things get tough, and they absolutely will, you will not have the drive to sustain yourself and keep on when no-one feels you have a chance. You see most entrepreneurs are bringing something new to the market so there is no automatic support for it. Thus they must provide the faith and perseverance until everyone else catches on to their vision and it can take time!

Ron HoltRon Holt

Ron Holt is the CEO & Founder of Two Maids & A Mop, a company that provides residential house cleaning services in thirteen markets across five US states. His journey started more than eleven years ago inside a small 250 square foot office space along the gulf coast of northwest Florida. In 2013, the company generated nearly $4M in revenues and is poised for more explosive growth over the next few years. The company has recently announced that immediate franchising opportunities are available throughout all 48 states.

Our journey from a small, mom & pop cleaning business into the one of the industry’s most admired brands took more than eleven years. Along the way, several obstacles popped up and each gave us reasons to quit and walk away. I can still remember plenty of difficult days asking myself if this business was the right business. Thankfully, my mind provided me with the correct answer every time but one central premise kept me going, which I also believe all highly successful small business owners also understand, which is…

Having the ability, no matter the situation, to have a plan.

I had a plan – a big plan – and quitting was not an option because my vision of scaling the brand nationwide had to be met.

Vision is a requirement for any business, no matter if you have local market aspirations or national market dreams. Vision certainly doesn’t guarantee you success. But, you definitely cannot be successful without it. It keeps you focused on the bigger goals and helps keep you afloat when the tide seems to be going in a different direction.

Start dreaming today and start building your plan. Then fight hard every day and look back on your vision on a regular basis. Success can only be achieved if you see it first.

Pamela ChristiePamela Christie

Pamela Christie is the Co-founder of DemGen Inc. which she founded in 2005 after learning what businesses needed to succeed based on her own entrepreneurial experience. DemGen in a virtual company with a team of experts offering business development, strategy and support services to help businesses increase results and revenues to achieve their goals. As Chief Empowerment and Operations Officer, Pam has a finger on the pulse of business and is the master of finding the best resources, team members and tools to utilize, both internally and to support clients.

One of the most common traits found when describing successful small business owners is…

The ability to “delegate.”

Delegation is extremely important when an entrepreneur is looking to grow their business, but what a lot of small business owners do not realize is that delegation is not just handing a task to someone else, but learning to let the task go. It is important for entrepreneurs to know when and what they should be delegating and be able to trust in the people they are delegating their tasks to.

Delegation allows for the business owner to focus their energy on a specific task. The only way to delegate and let go properly is to understand each team member’s (and your own!) strengths and weaknesses. Start first by assessing your own, then discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your team members and divide tasks accordingly. If you feel you are not the strongest member when it comes to invoicing or copywriting, see if there is someone who is confident enough to accept those tasks as their own. By understanding which tasks are better kept for yourself and which should be passed on, successful delegation will become second-hand.

Remember: the other half of successful delegation is letting go. If you’re passing a task along to a team member (unless is collaborative), provide them with all the strings attached and do not hover over them. They are part of your team for a reason, so let them show you why.

Entrepreneurs who stay focused on their task and learn when to let go will achieve the results of a positive, productive and successful business.

Viraj KariaViraj Karia

Viraj Karia is the Director at Fairlee Wellbeing Centre and Pharmacy, a health center that provides an extensive range of treatments for their patients including massage, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and more. Viraj and his family have turned the Fairlee Wellbeing Centre and Pharmacy into a leading centre for health and wellness in South London.

The most common trait of highly successful small business owners is…


Anything worth having is worth fighting hard for. Through difficult times and during success, the persistence to fight, fight and keep on fighting has kept us going through it all. Whatever you are fighting for – whether it is to provide the best customer service, to deliver on a promise or win new business – just wake up every morning determined to keep on fighting and never stop, whether you win or lose. Even the smallest victories will compound and accumulate to create long-term success.

Julie AustinJulie Austin

Julie Austin is an Award-winning author, inventor, and innovation speaker. Her patented product, swiggies, wrist water bottles, have been a NASDAQ product of the year semi finalist and are currently sold in 24 countries. Julie and her products have appeared on The Today Show, The Queen Latifa Show, HGTV, Lifetime, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News, and the Wall Street Journal, along with dozens of TV shows, magazines and radio shows around the world. She’s been a keynote innovation speaker for corporations such as Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Cognizant Technology Solutions. She’s also been featured in the books “Patently Female” and “Girls Think of Everything”. Learn more about Julie’s work at www.createforcash.com.

I think the most common trait among highly successful entrepreneurs is…


Many people go into it thinking it’s going to be quick and/or easy. Usually neither one is true. Experts say that to truly master something takes an average of 10 years.

That’s not to say that you can’t make a living as an entrepreneur before then, but there are so many reasons why your business can go up or down, many are out of your control, like the economy, consumer tastes, etc. You have to be able to hang in there and keep going without losing momentum..

Troy HazardTroy Hazard

Troy Hazard is a Serial Entrepreneur who has founded and nurtured eleven businesses in the recording, real estate, advertising, marketing, restaurant franchise and technology industries. He is the author of the book “Future-Proofing Your Business” and a former Global President of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization

The most common trait among highly successful entrepreneurs is…

True confidence.

Successful business owners are confident, not arrogant. Confident leaders & companies lead through values, vision and vulnerability. Arrogant leaders lead through fear, blame and ego.

Wendy WittWendy Witt

Wendy Witt, Esq. serves as Advisor Forum Director of the Wealth Counsel. The Advisors Forum empowers attorneys to create and build their ideal law businesses.

Highly successful small business owners all do one thing in common and that is…

They always jump in; they act outside their comfort zone on a regular basis.

When we’re behind our desks, little happens.

  • Reading books, taking workshops, planning, and collecting information are easy. .
  • Asking for help, building relationships, asking for a loan, looking into a video camera, reaching out to the media, and leading a workshop are not easy.

The key to success is acting outside your comfort zone. Those who jump in and do the tough stuff every day are those who succeed.

Get out from behind your desk – stop hiding behind your computer.

You got this!

Chad HugghinsChad Hugghins

Chad Hugghins is the Founder of Flour Mill Media. Chad started Flour Mill Media in order to help Small Business owners grow their Digital Presence. The firm specializes in Social Media Management and Video Marketing.

The most common trait of highly successful small business owners is…

The ability to receive and learn from criticism.

Successful small business owners understand that criticism can be constructive, that business is almost always a team effort, and that it’s absolutely necessary to keep up with changing technologies.

Ty-McLaughlinTy McLaughlin

Ty McLaughlin is the CFO of OnceLogix LLC, a Winston-Salem, NC-based company that provides custom, enterprise-level, web-based applications with a particular emphasis on building white-label solutions for the healthcare industry. Ty is also a serial entrepreneur, licensed Financial Advisor, coach and speaker.

The most common trait that an entrepreneur needs to possess is…

The courage to confront your fears.

Being an entrepreneur can be one of the scariest journeys one can take. It’s full of risk, you will constantly be required to step out of your comfort zone, and the potential for failure is infinitely higher than the possibility of success. Each person has a different set of fears, so the journey is different for everyone. One good way to help with this is to partner with people that are strong in areas that make you fearful.

If sales frightens you, partner with someone with strong selling skills. If managing people is one of your weaknesses, then partner with someone that’s a strong manager. The key, is to learn from you partners and face your fears when given the opportunity. You must be willing to confront your fears in order to succeed in business. As a great person once said, “If you are afraid to do something, just do it afraid!”

Michelle Seiler-TuckerMichelle Seiler-Tucker

Michelle Seiler-Tucker is an Entrepreneur, Business Consultant, Financial Freedom, Author, and Speaker, known as a leading authority on buying, selling and improving businesses, as well as increasing a business’s revenue streams. Michelle has sold several hundred businesses and franchises and she has helped buyers from all walks of life buy the American Dream, create financial freedom to be their own boss and obtain a better quality of life. Learn more about Michelle at TV GuestPert.

The most common traits of highly successful small business owners are…

Motivation, independence, determination and dedication to not only achieve success but achieve significance.

Beyond that main trait, some other important characteristics of many successful entrepreneurs are:

  • They surround themselves with people smarter than them
  • They focus on their core competency, their A level activities and they delegate the rest
  • They manage their time in units not minutes
  • They create their own economy
  • They anticipate the needs of their clients
  • They create the demand in the marketplace
  • They outsmart, outthink and out perform their competitors
  • They create brand advocacy for themselves and their company, and
  • They under promise and over deliver

Jason TreuJason Treu

Jason Treu is a Life Mastery Coach and an expert in business and leadership, relationships, networking and self development, who has worked with thousands of clients in the art of designing an extraordinary life over the past 5 years. He has written a Best-Selling book, “Jump Start Your Social Life”, which teaches anyone to build an amazing dating and social life in 30 days or less. His next book “Social Wealth”, teaches how to build extraordinary personal and professional relationships. Jason has interviewed more than 40+ global experts on his previous radio show, BSL Insider Radio, in 2013. Learn more about Jason’s work at www.beextraordinary.tv.

The most common trait of highly successful small business owners is…

The ability to build great relationships.

Everything we accomplish in life is with or through someone else. No one goes it alone. In business, you need other people to help you along the way and support you. This can be customers, partners, friends, online “fans,” etc. So your ability to attract, cultivate, and build relationships (online/offline) will be the determining factor for your success. People do business with people they like…period.

Dalia AsterbadiDalia Asterbadi

Dalia Asterbadi is a trained Systems Engineer and the CEO of realSociable, a patented solution that reduces the administrative, heavy process, so you can spend your time on what’s most important – your customer. Previously, Dalia led a team of marketers in one of Canada’s best managed companies at 24 and was a Director at a Publicly traded company at 25. She went on to found two successful tech companies, including realSociable. Dalia’s unique leadership and skills in the high-tech industry led her to be recognized by different associations to consult and strategize on ROI, customer retention, and customer segmentation.

The most common traits of highly successful small business owners are…

Long-term vision, adaptability and perseverance.

The strain on CEOs, particularly in a software centric business and earlier stages, is that the majority of the costs are front-loaded, so the mental strain is high. You are living and breathing the business, positive and negative, everyday so it is important to find a way to persevere and a way to find balance. Balance is not in the traditional sense, such as work-life balance; it is more of finding way to keep your eye on the long-term vision while dealing with every day pressures.

I learned something in my early and wild days when I used to ride a super sport bike. It is fun, but there is an interesting fact that those who never tried riding do not know: your eyes do the steering. It is imperative not to look down, or limit your sight to short range as you would then typically end up there. I like to share this, as it is a nice analogous way of understanding the need for balance. Despite the type of bike, the speed, the traffic conditions or the weather, you must always look to the destination. Your eyes, like your vision, will steer you there. We sometimes need this reminder, as it is easy to get bogged down by the daily stress.

Business isn’t a template. The conditions that influence the outcome are ever changing, so learning how to adapt and preserve are key.

Dr. Gayle CarsonDr. Gayle Carson

Dr. Gayle Carson is a Small Business coach, a Mastermind leader and past owner of 4 businesses. She is also a Certified Management Consultant who has worked in 50 countries and 49 states. As an expert adviser to CEO’s and entrepreneurial managers around the world, she has been called on by major media to comment on business, communication and service issues. A specialist in boomer women and beyond, she helps them deal with elder-care issues, feeling invisible, self-esteem and most important, knowing they can become whatever it is they want to be. Learn more about Gayle at her website, Spunky Old Broad.

The most important characteristics of a small business owner are…

Discipline, persistence, and action.

Without these, you get discouraged, are disorganized and unfocused.

Rich KahnRich Kahn

Rich Kahn is the CEO of eZanga.com, an online services company specializing in pay-per-click advertising, and has been a leader in the online advertising industry since 1993. Over the past 15 years, Richard has specialized in all areas of the Industry. In 1993, he organized and wrote an e-magazine that later transitioned into his next endeavor, the First Street Corporation, an Internet Service Provider. Mr. Kahn operated the First Street network out of his home and managed the customers and sales from an office nearby. In 2000, he sold the company to a publicly traded organization. In 2001, Rich joined AdOrigin Corp., a pay per click advertising network, as the COO. He then went on to establish eZanga in 2003, which has been a turned into a leading online business.

The most common traits of highly successful small business owners are…

We are control freaks.

We pay attention to every single detail of every aspect of our business. We also have trouble delegating sometimes, so it’s really important to hire the right staff. If you can trust your staff, you have an easier time letting go, but I know I always tend to still have my hand in every pot in some way or another. I’m always paying attention to detail.

Sarah DawkinsSarah Dawkins

Sarah Dawkins is a Senior Registered Nurse that set up her own company, Dawkins Health Consultancy, in 2012, following the publication and sale of her Nurse Led Extubation Guidelines for the Recovery Room. Her work as a healthcare consultant is very diverse, undertaking clinical training to healthcare staff, writing medico-legal chronology of events and forensic sampling. She loves a challenge and the opportunity to learn new skills that come from it.

In my opinion, the common traits for a successful small business owner are…

Passion and perseverance.

Without either there will be a lack of drive to push through any hard times. With both, hard times can be used as a learning curve to assess the situation, re-assess the goal and understand the way the business is moving.

An understanding of why the business is going through hard times will then assist the business owner to grow and develop their skills in any way necessary to lift the business up. This is when passion and perseverance comes into play, giving the business owner the drive to move it forwards. Without that drive from passion and perseverance, it would be easy to give up.

Success is measured by achievement in both the business itself and the business owner’s growth and development. Business is done through people to people contact and a passionate and persistent person will always shine.

Fernando CamposFernando Campos

Fernando Campos is Co-Founder of Topwick.com, a members-only online shop and journal that empowers and equips men to lead deliberate, engaging and passionate lives. Prior to Topwick,Fernando was the head of sales at a fast-growing startup called AnyPerk. Fernando is passionate about entrepreneurship, travel, cooking, and good conversation.

The key trait that every highly successful small business owner needs is…


Being a small business is owner is tough. You’re responsible for sales, marketing, operations, hiring, finances, and everything else that ensures your doors stay open. According to the Small Business Administration, over 50% of small businesses fail in five years. As a small business owner myself, and having worked with hundreds of businesses in the past, I believe the most common trait of the highly successful small business owner is resilience.

The Oxford Dictionary defines resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”. I can’t think of a better trait for a small business owner because of the daunting yet exciting challenges one faces everyday. I separate resilience into two categories: financial and psychological.

As a small business owner, you’re always on a limited budget. It requires accountability to only spend when it matters the most. In addition, many entrepreneurs will need the resilience to make sacrifices in their personal lifestyle as well. Personally, I’ve given up eating out at restaurants (extremely difficult in a foodie city like San Francisco) and have cut my spending by nearly 40% since starting my business.

The second half of the required resilience is psychological. The life of a small business owner usually entails early mornings to long nights, with moments of self-doubt in between. The most successful entrepreneurs overcome these moments of self-doubt and have the resilience to continue building their business. They learn from their mistakes, and understand that failure and uncertainty are part of the journey towards success.

The co-founder of the prestigious Y-Combinator, Paul Graham, famously stated that as a small business, you want to be like a cockroach. Cockroaches are rumored to be the animal most likely to survive a nuclear war because they’re so hard to kill. My advice, be resilient like the cockroach.

Jim-MooneyJim Mooney

Jim Mooney is the Founder & CEO of RO|Innovation. Jim is a seasoned business professional with an extensive background in all levels of sales and business development. With over 30 years of professional experience, Jim has worked in, and with major companies in several industries including High-Tech, Enterprise Software, Telecom and Medical Devices. In his current role as CEO, Jim has strategically guided the company to be a true innovator and pioneer in sales and marketing technology. He has been instrumental in the development and evolution of the company’s customer reference management platform and enterprise-level sales enablement solution, and is always seeking new ways RO|Innovation can help enterprises make sales easier, close rates faster, foster better customer relationships and create integrated solutions.

The most common traits of highly successful small business owners are…

They are experts at leveraging their network of satisfied customers to drive new business – specifically through referrals.

Happy customers make the best advocates, so leveraging existing customers’ support through word of mouth is key for driving growth and profitability. In fact, a recent Edelman Trust Barometer study reveals 84% of B2B decision makers begin their buying process with a referral.

SiriusDecisions reports B2B buyers trust the opinions of their peers over information gathered directly from a vendor. Thus, peer endorsement of your company’s products and services is critical for not only getting the initial invitation from your buyer to begin sales conversations, but also for convincing the buyer you are the best solution for them during the later stages of their decision making process.

For the small business owner, tapping the “voice of your customer” has a high return on quality “new business” leads that have a higher likelihood of converting to sales, and is a successful low cost strategy. As a small business ourselves, we publish customer testimonials on our website, are constantly growing our pool of customer references, and encourage our users to recommend our solutions to others in their networks.

Nina B. RiesNina B. Ries

Nina B. Ries is Principal of Ries Law Group in Los Angeles, a full-service firm dedicated to providing top-notch legal advice and representation in even the most sophisticated and complicated matters which include all aspects of business law. She has extensive experience in business and real estate, both as a litigator and as a transactional attorney. She has litigated a variety of complex matters and countless cases involving breaches of a variety of contracts, partnership disputes, business torts, 17200 claims, class action defense and intellectual property (including trademark, trade secret and unfair competition) on behalf of entrepreneurs, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies.

As the owner of a law firm that represents successful businesspeople in general, I have noticed one key commonality among all successful business owners, which is…

They realize what comes of hard work.

I once had a particularly brilliant and very successful mentor tell me, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” This is, hands down, the single best piece of advice I’ve ever been given.

Successful businesspeople realize that luck has little to do with success. Rather, it is the hard work, the planning, and the diligence, that you put in that creates your circumstances, and the ability to recognize the opportunities and capitalize on them that is your “luck.”

And now, the harder I work, the luckier I get. I’m very lucky.

Mario Garcia JrMario Garcia, Jr.

Mario Garcia, Jr. , Ph.D, J.D, MBA is owner and founder of Dr. Mario Life Coach, LLC, and he serves as a Strategic Intervention & Business Results Coach. He is the former Executive Vice President of Junior Chamber International Europe 2005 and served as Chairman of the 2005 European Business Conference in Strasbourg. He coaches business owners, attorneys and executives around the globe in English and Spanish speaking countries, and is an Anthony Robbins Companies, Robbins Research International Elite Business Results Coach.

The most common trait of highly successful small business owners is…

Knowing how to create a map, and not a plan for their business.

In the world we live in today, it is not realistic to design a plan. Things change so quickly that by the time you create your business plan, you have to start all over again. What small business owners need is a map to guide them from where they are to where they want to go. It will show you the most efficient route and al of the potential obstacles in your way. A map is only valuable if you know where you are. Once you have that map you can update it constantly, so that you can adjust the map accordingly and stay ahead of the game.

The five questions successful small business owners consider are:

1) What business are you truly in, and how’s business?
2) Why did you get in this business initially? Why are you in it now? What do you need to get from this business in the long-term?
3) Who are you? Who do you need? Who do you need to replace? Who is your client? Where are your clients?
4) Where are you, in terms of the economy, industry, in your company, and in the seasons of change? How do you need to get ready for the next season?
5) What’s next, and how do you create that compelling future that would produce raving fans for your product or service?

In my experience of coaching entrepreneurs, and small business enterprises, in more than 55 countries, and 20,000+ clients to date, those who are owners and not operators know where they really are and create an effective business map!

Katherine ClelandKatherine Cleland

Katherine Cleland is an Advisor to the UW Center for Commercialization in Marketing, a small business advisor and trainer, a marketing consultant, Co-Founder of the Willamette Angel Conference, and Board Member of the Seattle Angel Conference. Katherine spends most of her time working with small and medium sized tech startup and consumer products businesses.

The most common trait of highly successful small business owners is…

A passion for their customers.

Not their product, but what their product or service can do for their customers. Insight into what makes their customers tick, and how to best meet their needs, derived from that passion, is what keeps people and businesses coming back to small businesses.

Tom IngrassiaTom Ingrassia

Tom Ingrassia is President of The MotivAct Group, providing holistic personal and professional development programs and individual coaching for success. He also is host of “The Motown Jukebox” on WCUW 91.3FM, and author of the award winning “One Door Closes: Overcoming Adversity By Following Your Dreams”(Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing).

In order to be successful as a small business owner/entrepreneur, it is critical to…

Be a risk taker–to have the vision, courage, determination and passion to see beyond the speed bumps, roadblocks and obstacles on your path to achieving your goal.

Living life successfully requires great courage and risk–I know that first-hand. In order to make the transition from employee to running your own business, you have to have the courage to put everything on the line to achieve your dream. The courage to step out on faith–what I like to call deep water faith. You never know what the future has in store for you as a small business owner. Knowing what you want and how to get it. The courage to change. And the courage to persevere until you reach your goal–no matter the obstacles.

But, if you have a dream…if that dream is important to you…and if you let fear of the unknown hold you back; your dream remains just that. There IS a difference between dreamers and do-ers. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to live into our dreams have the ability to seize the opportunities that are presented to us–even if they are not perfect at the time–and make them our own.

Alex McClaffertyAlex McClafferty

Alex McClafferty is the Co-Founder of WP Curve, the #1 WordPress support service. WP Curve provides 24/7 WordPress support to small business owners and has grown rapidly as a bootstrapped company. Alex has been featured in Fox Business and Forbes, as well as Australian outlets including Smartcompany, Startupsmart and Startup Daily.

The most common trait of highly successful small business owners is…


Entrepreneurs and business owners who are self-aware understand that they can’t do everything by themselves, they need to find help to get the job done. Here are three examples of being self-aware in your business:

1. We provide WordPress support for hundreds of sites, but I have no technical ability and don’t know how to code. Instead of trying to learn coding, we’ve recruited expert developers from across the world.

2. Working to your strengths, whether they be writing, customer service or content marketing is the highest and best use of your time. There are hundreds of people who can do what you’re struggling with, so hire them instead of battling through.

3. I get frustrated if I have to sit behind a computer for more than a few hours per day. So, I’ve optimized my day for meeting people face to face and jumping on phone calls, so I can maintain my motivation and be productive.

Self-awareness is the difference between a happy work life and a miserable struggle through boring daily tasks.

Chuck-BlakemanChuck Blakeman

Chuck Blakeman is the Owner and Founder of the Crankset Group and Author of two books: “Making Money is Killing Your Business”, rated #1 Business Book of the Year by NFIB, and “Why Employees are ALWAYS a Bad Idea”, named Top 10 Business Book of the Year.

We believe that the most successful business owners have one thing in common and that is…

They understand how to effectively network.

Most successful business owners don’t do networking or go to networking events; instead they build a small network of strategic alliances that brings them business for years to come. We’ve started 3to5 Clubs, a new networking concept that brings 24 business owners together twice a month for maximum business growth, around the world that are built on this exact premise.

Which would you rather have – A one-time client who buys once directly from you, or a friend who never buys a thing from you but sends you clients for years to come? Networking is a treadmill that traps you and keeps you coming back for years to get one client at a time. But a true NETWORK of individuals forming long-lasting relationships allows you to stop networking and rely on those few strong connections that are sending you clients regularly. This type of networking is the type that most successful business owners are already doing, and what we are striving to do with 3to5 Clubs.

Nellie AkalpNellie Akalp

Nellie Akalp is a mom of four, serial entrepreneur, and CEO of Corpnet.com where she helps entrepreneurs start, grow and maintain their businesses. She is a contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Mashable and is a regular guest expert on the Fox Small Business Center.

The most common trait of successful business owners is..


Not only is starting, running and growing a business hard, it is downright a struggle sometimes and it is SO easy to give up. But, successful entrepreneurs never throw in the towel without putting up a hard fight.

You have to perseverance and rise above industry noise and corporate competitors to have your business be seen and heard. I have had plenty of struggles with my second business, but we fought hard and now we are seeing the benefits!

John KinskeyJohn Kinskey

John Kinskey is the Founder and CEO of Access Direct Messaging Service, a leading cloud-based service provider of virtual PBX auto-attendant services that include call routing, voicemail, find-me/follow-me, voice-to-email, fax-to-email, professionally-recorded greetings, and customized programming. Since 1997, AccessDirect has been providing affordable Virtual PBX phone systems from our offices in Kansas City to businesses of all sizes across the country.

The most common trait of successful business owners is..


As a third generation entrepreneur, I founded AccessDirect in my basement 17 years ago and now have a national client base in a competitive industry. I grew up watching my Father’s example as he grew and sold two substantial businesses.

What I saw in my Father was tenacity, getting up every day and leaving the house in a hurry, ready to tackle new challenges and never give up. My Father told me “don’t leave yourself a back door or you will take it”.

This, to me, turned out to signify that the challenges of a starting a business are not for the faint of heart. Initially I did not think I possessed the risk appetite or drive to start a business but once I did, I had newfound energy, drive and freedom, along with a healthy dose of fear, to help me work seven days a week and push it over the top. It takes tenacity!!

Rahul RazdanRahul Razdan

Rahul Razdan is the CEO of Ocoos.com, a comprehensive digital platform for small business. Razdan has achieved much success in the technology startup industry and has had two successful exits at Pwrlite and WiPower. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard University.

The most common trait of highly successful small business owners is…

Keeping perspective.

They know what they know, and they know what they don’t. In that simple observation, small business owners can recognize where they need to get help in order to grow. With that, they can build empowered teams (employees or specialized consultants) that will boost their business and push them to a level of success they may not have achieved if they tried to go it alone.

There is a famous Clint Eastwood quote I often think of when asked this question which I think is so appropriate: “A man has to know his limitations!”

Anthony PiliAnthony Pili

Anthony Pili is the VP, Director of Strategic Planning of Greater Hudson Bank.

I’ve been working with small business owners for the past 15 years, cleaning up their finances and helping them qualify for bank and SBA loans. There are two traits stand out as the most dominate amongst successful business owners:

1. Resourcefulness – there is no way to anticipate/have prior knowledge of the many swings in a business cycle or issues that may arise while operating a small business, however, the resourceful business owners are able to quickly process the issue at hand and create an effective solution for overcoming it while strengthening their business.

2. Perpetual learner – most business owners who fail have a false sense of security and confidence in what they know and believe they have learned all that they need to know. The business world is changing faster now than it has been in the past and owners who acknowledge that there is always more to learn and a faster, cheaper, better way to do almost everything and posses a genuine relentless pursuit to learn and improve, stay on top of the curve and magnify there earnings.

Bettina SeidmanBettina Seidman

Bettina Seidman is a well-known career management coach and executive coach in private practice in Manhattan. Bettina provides career counseling and professional coaching services nationwide to individuals and organizations in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. She holds a BA in Psychology, an MBA in Industrial Psychology, and a Certificate in Labor Relations. Bettina has been an Instructor at New York University, Marymount Manhattan College, and Baruch College. She is a frequent public speaker and panelist. Find more about Bettina’s work at Seidbet.com.

As a successful small business owner and a career management coach working with other successful small business owners, I believe that the most common trait of highly successful business owners is…

Clear focus and working long hours. Both of these are essential to be able to build a business successfully.

Daniel FeimanDaniel Feiman

Daniel Feiman, MBA, CMC© is a Consultant, Trainer, Author & Reviewer. As a successful commercial banker (18+ years) he tutored entrepreneurs in many industries to reach their goals. As a successful management consultant (18+ years) he has taught organizations how to succeed beyond their expectations by following his APCIMAIR™ model. Learn more about Daniel’s work at http://www.BuildItBackwards.com/

The most common trait of highly successful small business owners is…

Understanding the unique value they bring to the marketplace and being able to get their value proposition across to their target market. 

Anyone can be a “me-too” and take orders but to be truly successful you have to help the market understand how your offering adds value for them.

Andrew ThomsonAndrew Thompson

Andrew Thompson is the CEO of PEAK Performance, Inc. and has been in the Business Training industry for 20 years, having personally training over 150,000 professionals in North America. PEAK Performance, Inc. is a business education and training company- based in Chicago, IL.

If you were to examine small business owners and their successes across multiple industries, one commonality would be…

Their ability fulfill the needs for their customers. What seems like common sense is actually a secret to success for leading entrepreneurs. Their ability to focus on the customer experience is what drives their business and creates a network of new and repeat customers.

When small business owners take the time to hand write thank you notes, carry retail packages out to a customer’s car, remember their returning customers by name and display these acts in the most genuine manner, they are laying the foundation of long-term success.

Alan GuinnAlan Guinn

Alan Guinn is the Managing Director and CEO of The Guinn Consultancy Group, Inc., an award-winning business consultancy based in Bristol, TN.

What I find to be most impressive about small business owners, and what I think is a common trait among the most successful of them, is…

Their truly indomitable spirit.

What an amazing resource this quality is for them, and you can see this exhibited in a variety of ways…not the least of which is their effort to try to constantly upgrade and improve/enhance their business.

Where they have challenges to meet, they find ways to address those challenges. If someone puts a mountain in their way, they find a way to climb it, or move it, or build a pathway around it. If it’s funding they need, they find a way to get the money required–even up to selling a piece of the business to someone to keep it going. They are like hungry tigers; they always find a way to get what is required for the business’s success.

If they need resources they don’t possess, they find people who do possess those resources, and find a way to include them in their dream. They sometimes lack personal patience, but they are patient to a fault when their professional business interests are concerned. Even when others think they’ve failed, or a venture within their business is not successful, they take away from the experience that they might have made mistakes, but they learned from those mistakes, and they won’t ever make them again.

Jan TriplettJan Triplett

Jan Triplett is the CEO of Business Success Center, Strategist, Activist, Speaker, & Author. She is the Author of the e-book, “The Networker’s Guide to Success” and co-author of “Easy to Be Green” and “Thinking Big, Staying Small”. She has been a presenter and mentor SXSW Interactive and SXSW V2V and is a national and internationally recognized keynote speaker.

The most common trait of successful business owners is..

They are willing to listen, but when push comes to shove they take responsibility. This makes them like, what I call “benevolent despots”.

This leads to greater trust from others and a greater ability to minimize their company’s risks of going in a different direction or making other major changes.

Almost as important as the trait of behaving as a benevolent despot is a sense of humor. They have to be able to laugh at themselves and the situation. It gets them through the tough times and turns bad to good. In some cases, it meant the difference between giving up and pushing on to become an Inc. 500 winner.

Bill WatsonBill Watson

Bill Watson is the Founder of Advanced Business Group, a business consultancy that specializes in helping others to buy and sell companies, as well as maximize business value Bill is also a former CPA licensed in two states, previous owner and President of healthcare companies, and for the last 20 years has been helping 100’s of business owners to buy, sell, and value their businesses.

A common trait I find in highly successful small business owners is…

They understand the value of their company and manage that value to its maximum level at all times.

This is what often separates “successful” apart from “highly successful”. Most business owners are experts in their line of business. At the same time, they are not experts at buying or selling a business and do not understand what their business looks like to an independent purchaser.

A business owner that knows what really drives the value of their company, will make decisions and manage the company not only to be profitable, but to maximize value as well. Very few businesses sell or transfer ownership exactly when planned, yet they all will transfer ownership at some time. The owner that keeps his value high at all times does not leave money on the table and is the one that truly is
highly successful!

Tom-Corson-KnowlesTom Corson-Knowles

Tom Corson-Knowles is CEO of TCK Publishing and the Bestselling Author of “Schedule Your Success”.

The most common trait of successful business owners is..

Quick thinking and Initiative.

Successful entrepreneurs act fast. When they come up with a good idea, learn about a new tool that can help them grow their business, or discover an opportunity, successful entrepreneurs take action right away. Most of the time, that action means taking the next step and calling on a new potential client or requesting more information about a new business tool.

Other times, the immediate action may be writing down the idea and scheduling the next step for later. Successful entrepreneurs don’t let great opportunities slip away. They take action right away!

Ron YatesRon Yates

Ron Yates has been a successful small business owner for more than 25 years. He started a small jewelry store, Yates & Co Jewelers, in 1988 in Modesto, CA, and in 2002, Ron started a web business Titanium-Jewelry.com. In short order that website became a leader in the niche of contemporary metals jewelry.

Trying to pick one single trait that is most common among my successful small business peers is difficult. But for me to pick one word at this stage of my career I would say…


It can be defined as “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.”

You need perseverance at all stages of your business. Starting a business, with its uphill climb, can be daunting. So many times I wanted to quit and go to work for someone else. You sometimes lose faith in your abilities, your business plan and market. As you try to grow your business, perseverance is also needed. There will always be obstacles that come up. And complacency has to be overcome. You have to continue to push on.

When your business experiences a downturn it can be especially stressful and trying. And you may feel defeated and lose your enthusiasm and positive outlook. Again, perseverance to continue in the best course of action despite discouragement is needed. If you don’t have perseverance you cannot succeed.

I am dealing with this daily now, trying to pull my web business back up. Learned a hard lesson of relying too much on Google. When Google decided to punish my website, traffic and sales plummeted. I have to rely on perseverance every single day.

Tracey LawrenceTracey Lawrence

Tracey Lawrence is the Founder of Grand Family Planning, a membership network that connects and coordinates multiple services for families. Tracey is also a seasoned caregiver and problem solver who has always sought solutions to things that bugged her, Tracey shares her knowledge with those who might benefit as a respected blogger who’s caregiving exploits and savvy advice can be accessed at http://lightofgray.com/.

The most successful small business owners I know share one quality and that is…

They don’t give up. They understand that profitability takes time. Having a vision and knowing they can achieve it, they recognize that anything worth doing is never easy, requires courage, persistence and a willingness to adapt.

Listening to client feedback and responding to it is also key. Today, customer service is a rare commodity, and clients are more inclined to do business with those providers who treat them with respect.

Liran-HirschkornLiran Hirschkorn

Liran Hirschkorn is an Independent Life Insurance Agent and Founder of BestLifeQuote.com, a national life insurance agency. His mission is to help individuals across the U.S find the best rates on life insurance, specializing in helping those who have previously been declined coverage. Liran’s expertise is in high-risk life insurance and understanding the unique underwriting guidelines of more than 30 life insurance companies.

The most common trait of highly successful small business owners is…

Passion and persistence.

If you are really passionate about what you do, and believe in it, and are persistent and never give up, failure can never truly happen. Everyone has ups and downs, but it’s how you react to the downs that really makes you successful in business.

Michael TalveMichael Talve

Michael Talve is Founder of The Expert Institute, a technology-driven platform for connecting qualified experts in every field with lawyers, investment firms, and journalists looking for technical expertise and guidance. By leveraging new technologies and techniques within the legal industry, The Expert Institute has become the fastest-growing expert referral service in the country.

The most important thing that successful small business owners possess is…

Stability and discipline in his/her personal life.

Growing a small business into a medium sized business and beyond is a full-time job, but that doesn’t mean you spend every hour of every day working. You need to take time to take care of yourself physically and emotionally, and to maintain personal relationships with friends and family. When you own your own business, everyone you employee, as well as your customers and investors, are relying on you to show up to work rested, refreshed, and ready to preform, and it’s impossible to do that if your personal life is in disarray.

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