by Steve Adubato, PhD

People talk all the time about starting their own business. There are professionals who don’t like their job and dream of being their own boss, and others who have just lost a job who envision becoming an entrepreneur.

But what does it really take to become a successful small business owner? Some people believe if you are really good at something, then that is the thing you should do. If it were only that simple. In fact, author Michael Gerber wrote a groundbreaking book in 1995 entitled, “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It” in which he challenged that exact premise.

With this in mind, let’s identify the other leadership and communication traits that entrepreneurs need to succeed in today’s highly competitive and challenging business environment:

--It’s all about the customer. It’s terrific if you are enthusiastic about a particular product or service, but your business will never work if that product or service is not compelling to prospective customers. People have to WANT or NEED what you are selling. The challenge here is to find the right balance between doing what you love, while matching that up with market demands. It is a delicate balance that all budding entrepreneurs must keep in mind.

--Promote your brand. Get comfortable with self-promotion. You can’t succeed in a small business unless you are constantly communicating why you believe in yourself and what service or product you are selling. What makes you stand out? What makes you distinctive? It’s not enough that you believe in yourself, you have to be confident and secure enough to communicate this message with passion and enthusiasm to clients and customers. If not, don’t start a business.

--Be humble. This may sound like a contradiction to the point above, but it’s not. The humility that I’m talking about is being secure enough to acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers. Therefore, as an entrepreneur, you want to know more. This requires you to be a superior communicator who asks probing questions of people who know more than you about a particular subject. Being humble and confident don’t have to be mutually exclusive as a small business person. In fact, in the right combination, it’s the perfect mix.

--Burn the midnight oil. In fact, sometimes be willing to stay up through the night. Successful small business professionals understand that we don’t work conventional hours. Sometimes, we are drafting a business plan or sketching out our vision at 2 or 3 in the morning. Further, not only do we not resent doing it, but we LOVE doing it because at our core, entrepreneurs have a special passion that says, “I don’t care what it takes to succeed. I am going to do it.”

--Be persistent. As a small business professional, I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been rejected for a book proposal or by a prospective client. Other entrepreneurs know this same feeling. However, to succeed, one must see those rejections as an invitation to prove how wrong those who rejected us really were. If you are easily defeated or deterred by the word “NO”, then going into your own business isn’t for you. However, if you can get beyond the rejection, the satisfaction of finally getting the long-awaited “YES” is what makes being in business for yourself worth it.