Effective business owners often have a good number of concrete factors working in their favor. They might have a great idea or an incredible intellect. They may have large amounts of money or simple know the right people. They often possess a good eye for talent, a strong sense of leadership, and a proclivity for taking risks at just the right time.
These resources, assets, and intangibles are unfortunately not available to every business owner who seeks them. You can’t snap your fingers and accrue leadership skills or considerable wealth – in other words, you can’t turn yourself into an effective business owner simply because you want to join those ranks. As with everything in life, there are elements of business that can be mastered and elements that cannot. Many advantages of ownership fall in that latter category.
But while favorable business connections may make an owner more effective, a person can still be an effective owner in absence of that capability. More generally, it is possible to be highly effective and successful without possessing favorable resources. To do, this, however, it is all the more important that an owner maximize what is entirely within his control – that he practice effective ownership habits even if he doesn’t have the above assets at his disposal.
What are these habits demonstrated by effective business owners? Here are eight of the most important ones:
– Create goals. As a business owner it is important that you have a vision – a finish line or a checkpoint that you want your business to cross. These goals can change monthly or even weekly, but they should always relate back to your product, your brand, and your culture. And they should always be clearly shared by all employees.
– Take risks. Taking risks is an easy way to fail but the only way to succeed. If you’re too hesitant and unsure of yourself (and of your company’s direction), you will likely miss opportunities and fail to adapt as needed in changing times. There’s nothing wrong with considering every action carefully and skeptically. But when an opportunity arrives, go for it.
– Listen to advice. No person is perfect, and it’s not a coincidence that the best managers often surround themselves with the best employees and advisors. As a business owner, it is important that you listen to advice whenever it is presented. And, if the advice is any good, you should take it to heart regardless of the source from which it came.
– Keep the past in the past. It is often said that the best relief pitchers in baseball are those players that have a bad memory – in other words, those players that can brush off a blown save and return to the mound in the 9th inning the very next day. Effective business owners are similar to an extent. While there are often valuable lessons to be gained from past failures, an owner should be able to put successes and disappointments from the past behind him when a new decision is being made.
– Focus on the details. Some people erroneously believe that being a successful owner is all about – and only about – grasping the big picture and letting employees figure out the details. This is obviously far from the truth. An effective owner, rather than being a God-like leader or a presidential figurehead, is best prepared to make the big picture decisions when he is actively engaged in the business’ details on a daily basis.
– Be willing to change the course. Just as it is important to take risks when the opportunity arises, so too is it crucial to change a goal or stop a practice if the results have clearly turned detrimental. Not being able to pull the trigger and “cut-and-run” at the right moment could result in lawsuits and lost revenue for the business.
– Stay informed. An effective owner shouldn’t just live in the narrow world that his business inhabits. Rather, he should always have a strong sense of context and a strong knowledge of news and trends in his industry.
– Conduct yourself honestly. Finally, it is of utmost importance that a business owner carries himself with integrity at all times. To do otherwise would risk losing connections and contracts (as well as the all-important trust of others), finding less confidence in oneself, and breeding a corrosive business culture. These are all outcomes that one would certainly want to avoid.
These are eight of the main habits of highly effective business owners. While following them won’t guarantee you success, they should be ignored at your own peril. After all, there’s no reason not to maximize those things that we can most easily control.