What are the five most important qualities a business owner needs?
In the last month I’ve heard from 5 highly respected business owners who are having a “tough week”. They’re not unrealistic, seriously worried or lacking business acumen. They’re going through the business cycle, and it’s tough.
I admire all 5 of them and appreciate their honesty in owning this moment. I know that there are times when running a business is tough. Innumerable reasons range from your financial buffer dropping to less than 3 months, a delayed flight resulting in a missed critical meeting or a staff member resigning – just when you’ve got them trained and productive – they’re all relevant and require you to drag yourself back to “front of house”.
Interestingly few people openly discuss this at the time, they would raise it after the fact. The sentence would start with “last week” or “a few months ago” but that’s changing. It may be because I’ve been around so long now that there are few secrets or perhaps honesty develops over the period your business matures. Either way, the most critical qualities for a business owner (in my opinion) are:-
1. Sense of humour: self-deprecating, lightness of being and taking the edge off the seriousness of the situation can be done only by the leader – then you can get to work solving the problem. Fear of the challenge will not help to overcome it.
2. Perspective: everything looks different from a different angle, outline the problem, pick it up, throw it around with others, ask opinions of those you respect. It can look different from another seat at the table.
3. Pragmatism: it is just a business. I know that this hurts but take the personal away and the problem becomes clearer, less emotional and separate from a private concern. Put your “business head” on, take a deep breath and find the core of the problem.
4. Boundaries: there is a time to worry, and a time to put it to one side. The sub-conscious part of your brain works constantly, many a problem has been solved by not addressing it immediately, but by looking at the surrounding issues. Is it business or personal? You or the business? Work or home? When and how should it be managed?
5. Self-awareness: know when you need help, when it is time to check in with a mentor, advisor or partner. It won’t go away if it’s not addressed… Working without the flurry of anxiety and knowing that you have someone on your side counts.
Only 5 qualities! Agreed, there are many more and these are just some of them. Work ethic, discipline, vision, bravery, gumption, agility and humanity come to mind but the 5 I mention have been most obvious within my client base in 3 different cities over the last month. An impressive group.