I have worked with hundreds of business owners over the years. They’ve represented a wide variety of industries and achieved a wide spectrum of success – some were so successful that they able to retire at age 40 if they wanted to, while others took a longer road to success. And while there is no single factor which in and of itself determines the ultimate success or failure of a successful business owner, I have been able to identify a number of their common traits. Below are five of the most important:

  1. The ability to combine vision with action. Most business owners are visionaries, full of great ideas. The problem for most is putting those ideas into action.Successful business owners have the ability to see the big picture and to create plans that capitalize on their external environment… but they also have the grit and the leadership ability to execute their plans.
  2. The ability to set (and track) specific, clear goals. In general, the more specific a goal is, the better. Successful business owners understand this. Vague goals like “increase revenue” are much less useful than a goal like “by August, increase revenue by 25% month-on-month as compared to last year” (and even this should be clarified more to the specifics of the organization.) Successful leaders set specific, clear goals, track their progress, and make adjustments as necessary.
  3. The ability to communicate proactively. Whether it is their employees, customers, partners, or others… successful business owners communicate clearly and proactively.
  4. The ability to learn from mistakes, rather than being defeated by them.Mistakes, setbacks, and failures are inevitable. Virtually every success story, from Steve Jobs to Michael Jordan, and everywhere in between, is characterized by failure. Successful leaders have the ability to stay positive and to keep moving forward, rather than packing up their tent and giving up. Most importantly, successful leaders learn from their mistakes and do their best to avoid repeating them.
  5. The ability to inspire others. Successful business owners have the ability to motivate, whether it’s a handful of employees or tens of thousands. There is more to inspiring employees than giving a good speech, however – a successful leader is able to create a sense of purpose for his team. By creating a fulfilling workplace for employees, he or she gives them a reason to get out of bed each morning excitedabout coming to work. This passion translates into real results – results that can’t be duplicated by an uninspired workforce.

How many of these characteristics are true of you?

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