Being a successful business owner requires investing your own money, time and effort. You may be attracted to the idea of being your own boss, but are you cut out to successfully meet the demands of owning a business? The only thing certain in business is that nothing is certain. Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable? Can you handle taking educated risks and surviving the constant ups and downs of operating a business?
Running a successful business is not just about having great ideas. It’s more about strong execution. If you have a hard time staying focused, if you are uncomfortable generating revenue, and if you are averse to managing all aspects of the organization — not just the editorial component — then entrepreneurship may not be the way to fulfill your journalistic passion.
It is important to have a realistic picture of the characteristics and skills you bring to this venture. Perhaps more important is understanding why you want to take this challenging step. Here is a questionnaire with some tough questions you may want to consider before embarking on this journey: Entrepreneurial self-assessment worksheet.
Essential Qualities for Business Owners
You can be a successful business owner even if you don’t possess every skill needed to run a small business. However, certain qualities are essential for success.
- Willingness to sacrifice: You must be willing to accept the fact that, as a small-business owner, you are the last one to be paid. Your vendors and employees are in line ahead of you. You must be willing to sacrifice much of your free time. If you like working set hours and taking three weeks of vacation every year, don’t go into business for yourself.
- Strong interpersonal skills: If you thought getting along with your boss was tough, wait until you have to deal with suppliers, funders, employees, lawyers, accountants, government officials, and everybody in between. Successful owners are able to work with all personality types, and they are able to find out what their customers like and don’t like.
- Strong leadership skills: Successful owners understand that others are looking to them to be led to the promised land. Others will be looking to you for answers, and if you have to be ready for that responsibility.
- Strong organizational skills: Successful owners are able to keep track of everything going on in their business, set priorities and get things done. They know that if they lose track of what’s going on, they’re sunk.
- Intelligence: Being able to score well on standardized tests is great, but having street smarts and common sense — being able to quickly think on your feet — is essential. Successful owners are able to anticipate problems before they arise and take preemptive steps to avoid them. They know how to solve a crisis after it occurs.
- Management ability: Operating a small business is all about managing relationships — with your audience, your clients, your employees, your suppliers, your funders and with your family.
- Business experience: Without solid business experience or access to business expertise, it may be challenging to get funding for your idea. Funders will want to know about your journalism experience, but they will also want to know if you have the business savvy to sustain the enterprise long-term.
- Risk tolerance: How will you react when your business isn’t going as well as you expected? A risk avoider may fold the tent, but a risk-taker believes in the business and will keep going.