In order to find success in pursuing your dream of starting and owning your own business, you must harness a combination of self-awareness and character traits that will help you cultivate success!  Owning your own business can not only help you support yourself, but help you in your pursuit of personal fulfillment and home-work balance: the trifecta we all dream of!


The most important trait, in my opinion, to building a successful business is resilience.  Things may not always go as you plan them.  You can’t control external forces, but you can control how you react!  What has kept me going through tough times is the knowledge that in six months or a year, I’ll look back and not even remember the bad days.  

The Customer is King

Every success I’ve had in my business was because of insights offered to me from my clients.  Give yourself room to change and grow and react to the needs, and feedback of your customers.

But You Know Best

Even though “the customer is always right,” you have to be able to trust your instincts.  This is your business, and you know best.  Sometimes you will have to say no; sometimes it will be ok to respectfully disagree with a customer.  Don’t be afraid to make on-the-spot decisions.  Trust in yourself and your instincts.

Constant Optimism

Successful entrepreneurs have positive outlooks. If you’ve ever trained for a marathon, you know that any long-range (or long-distance!) goal involves arduous training and intense physical and emotional strain – including nurturing your business.  When you own your own business, there isn’t a true finish line (we all know there’s always more work to do, more dreams to pursue!), but there are moments during the journey that you can enjoy, moments that make the long days more than worth it!  You might find yourself cursing yourself for undertaking such a monumental task, but don’t get lost in those moments.  When you hit your stride and your business truly blossoms, you will feel amazing!  Keep that end goal in mind, despite the inevitable setbacks.  Savor the good moments and let them propel you through the challenging ones.

The Power of Partnerships

Smart business people choose the right partner.  One of my first businesses died a painful death in under a year because I chose the wrong partner. Trusting my gut and choosing a different partner would have saved me a lot of aggravation – and a friendship about which I cared deeply.

Bias Towards Action

Be biased towards action more so than analysis. It takes time when you first start to build a certain risk tolerance but you quickly realize that it’s either that or the death of your dream! Taking measured risk is part of everyday business. When the choice between analysis and action has the same impact, opt for action every time.  Analyze your decisions in retrospect to make better decisions going forward.

Inspire and Empower

A successful entrepreneur engenders trust in their employees.  When I started managing teams back in my Big Four days, one of the techniques I relied on most heavily was rote authority.  This is the most primitive form of leadership, and it’s not productive or effective.  Fortunately, at the time my manager was skilled at building trust, and he taught me, too, how to inspire and empower my team.  People are inspired not because you tell them to be, but because they trust you, believe in a shared mission, and have very clear expectations.

Build A Network Of Peers

Success in your business will also rely on your ability to connect with your peers.  This business is your baby – you care more than anyone else, and also have more responsibility than anyone else.  As one of my favorite bosses, a CEO I worked for, used to say, “It is lonely at the top.”  Find other entrepreneurs and connect with them. You will be surprised by how similar their situations are to yours and how valuable their perspective is.

Image Credit: Mirjana Jesic



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