I guess I’m lucky in that I knew I wanted to be a business owner from a very young age.
I can always remember being a pretty observant person. Even as a kid I was always looking at people and especially at adults for clues on what their lives were like and how happy they were.
Maybe that’s how every kid is – curious and observant – but watching grownups was a way for me to learn.
What I learned was that business was intriguing. I was intrigued by the lifestyle of business owners. They were in control of their lives. It wasn’t as much about the free time and things like that, but more about how they were free to make decisions. They took the risk of doing something on their own and providing for themselves and their families.
It’s a risky way to live, yes, but I don’t think it’s any less risky than working for a company. The looming risk of layoffs are always there for just about any company that you might work for.
While watching business owners growing up I noticed a few common traits. These traits were often subtle, but looking back now I continue to see these traits in people I admire.
Here are those traits.
Do you have any?
1. They Don’t Care About Politics
This one might surprise people.
We all have the crazy uncle that only posts political rants on Facebook.
But those seem to be the minority.
Some businesspeople might do that, but the ones I admire are the ones that stay out of politics. They focus on the things they can control and that means they put their energy into their business and their families.
I can’t remember who said it, but someone I met once said, “I can either sit and whine about politics or I can go with whatever policies are in place and focus on how I can make money in spite of those policies.”
2. They’re Upbeat
Business is a high stress job.
Sure it could be like working in a salt mine at times, but for the most part, businesspeople seem to love what they do and they recognize that fact.
I’ve also noticed that the businesspeople I admire most know how to make time for things they love like friends, family and hobbies.
And they still get things done.
They know how to delegate. They know that they can’t do everything. They still get involved in their business and they’re very proud, but they know that trying to do everything limits the business.
So when I see businesspeople that I admire they’re generally in a good mood. They’re engaging. They’re not complaining about clients, customers, partners or anything like that.
It could be raining or blazing hot outside. The successful people seem to find the silver lining while brining smiles to the faces of everyone around.
3. They Make Mistakes
There is this weird stigma in our world that mistakes are bad.
Yes, if you make mistake after mistake you’re going to struggle with anything.
But you can’t get better and learn if you don’t make mistakes.
Successful businesspeople seem to not care what others will think if they make a mistake. They’ll make 10 mistakes if it means that on try #11 that they figure something out and can then make a profit.
4. They Care Most About Profit
Profit is not a bad word.
With it there wouldn’t be a reason for businesses to exist. And that would mean the loss of a lot of jobs.
Yes, we can do things for the reward of doing them, but having the incentive to make a profit to provide for oneself and one’s family is usually necessary for good work to happen.
The best businesspeople I’ve met have this uncanny ability to see through all the talk and focus on profit. If they’re looking at a new opportunity they’ll break down the situation into the simple terms of, “Will this make profit?”
They can run numbers in their head and they can tell if something is a good or bad investment.
5. They Have Hobbies
As I mentioned above, businesspeople that are happy have hobbies. They golf in golf league once a week and on Saturday mornings. They play in the local basketball league. Or they belong to a local community group.
Hobbies are important for anyone in any area of life. But businesspeople tend to get caught up in their work sometimes and that means foregoing a hobby. This seems to lead to unhappiness.
The most successful people know that happiness is a key to doing good work. So they make time for hobbies because they know it will make them happier, which leads to a better business.
6. They Recognize Their Place In The World (Humility)
Some people (myself included at one time) thought that businesspeople had to be outgoing, gregarious and all those things.
But it’s not the case. The best businesspeople seem to have humility.
As this study found, the best businesspeople are confident and hard working, but they also realize that the business is more important than themselves. They know that they aren’t perfect so they seek out knowledge. They seek out smart people to work with that will bring the entire business to another level.
7. They Hire People To Take Over Their Tasks
I mentioned this up above briefly.
You can’t do it all yourself. That’s a tough lesson to learn.
If you’re getting too busy you have to figure out how to cut back. Maybe some of the things you’re doing aren’t necessary. That could mean reworking the type of work you do for your business. For example, at GBW we used to do work like long e-books and guides, but we couldn’t make it work. So we cut back and focused on blog posts.
That’s one example.
It also means hiring people to take over your tasks. You only have so much time and once you reach your limit, your business reaches its limit. You have to create documentation for each task you do and then hire someone to follow that documentation.
I don’t think everybody has all these traits. And I’m not sure that you have to be born with the traits either to be successful. You can train yourself to be more humble and to not care about politics. I think you can learn to be all of the things listed above.
And if you do I think you’re setting yourself up for success. A lifetime of observation has proven to me that these are the traits of the most successful (and happy) businesspeople.