5 Essential Skills of Successful Small Business Owners

Scaling / June 2, 2016 / Kristie

There are five essential skills that successful business owners posses. Whether you’re about to start a business or have an existing business, learning how to master these skills will help you to be successful and grow your business.

small business character traits


Successful business owners know the importance of organization because it saves time and reduces stress. From your workspace to your business data, keeping things organized will help you to quickly access the information you need to make decisions. This includes organizing your contact information, tasks, sales information, and all the other moving pieces involved in bringing in new business and delivering on your promises.

“Every minute you spend looking through clutter, wondering where you put this or that, being unable to focus because you’re not organized costs you: time you could have spent with family or friends, time you could have been productive around the house, time you could have been making money.”

–Jean Chatzky

There are many tools available that can help you organize your business. Figure out the best solution or combination of solutions and leverage them to save time and energy.

Time management

Managing your time effectively is key to growing your small business. Two ways to effectively manage your time are to bucket tasks and plan blocks of time for the work you want to do. By grouping tasks together, you can focus on one type of work at a time and power thought it. By planning out your day in blocks of time, you have a realistic idea about what you have time for and can therefore prioritize better.

For example, plan time to check your email in the morning and once in the afternoon. Use that time to process your emails and send off any other emails you need to all at once. Then turn off email and shift focus to the next group of tasks. This way you avoid switching back and forth between tasks which wastes time, and you  have time to focus on things like your business strategy instead of just getting caught in the weeds.

“My days start the night before. I outline everything that needs to be done in a small notebook. My day consists of getting calls done in the first half of the day and taking care of all the general housekeeping tasks in the evening. Most of my day entails attempting to put a drop in each of the following buckets: investors, legal, marketing, product development, sales, accounting, and strategy.”

-Eric Schaumburg, CEO of Eventr.io



Communication is crucial to growing your business. This means effectively communicating to your clients as well as with your team. Communication is equal parts listening and talking. As a business owner, you can empower your team by communicating your goals and ambitions with your team. What are your goals for your business? How does your team fit into this? Listening to the goals and opinions of the people on your team will also help to grow your business.

Communication is essential to getting new business. Products and services exist to solve a problem in the market. Without the ability to effectively communicate your value proposition (how you solve that problem), you won’t be able to acquire new customers.

In an article on Forbes titled Five Reasons 8 out of 10 Businesses Fail, Eric T. Wagner explains that one of the key reasons 80% of startups fail in the first 18 months is because of the inability to communicate value proposition.

“Many entrepreneurs work hard to discover a point of differentiation then blow it because they do not communicate their message in a clear, concise and compelling manner. I watch many entrepreneurs bleed to death through their failure to communicate.”

Eric T. Wager

Listening and understanding your clients pain points and frustrations will help you to better position your products and/or services as well as indicate where you need to improve. What are your ideal clients’ pain points? How can you leverage these pain points to create a demand for your product/services? What are your current customer’s complaints? How can you improve your products/services to fit these needs, or how can you educate your customers to better ease their concerns?

If you’re still unsure how to effectively communicate your value proposition, read the 6 Building Blocks of Communicating Your Value Proposition.

Problem solving

For entrepreneurs, everyday is about solving problems. Successful business owners are able to think quickly, make decisions, and adapt to changes in the market. How will you solve the problem of not having enough cashflow? How will you solve the problem of having dissatisfied customers? How will you tap into a new market to expand your client base?

To become better at problem solving, work on identifying problems and being objective. Try to view each problem from multiple perspectives and leverage your resources. These resource can include your team, customer experiences, networking or a mentor, or even doing research. This post on Entrepreneur outlines in five steps How To Become a Master Problem Solver.

Ability to learn from mistakes

Last but not least, successful business owners are motivated to move forward and learn quickly from their mistakes. They have a positive, “can-do” attitude and push through all the small failures that are along the road to success.

Failure is part of learning. Through failure, you learn what works and what doesn’t.
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You learn what language attracts the wrong customers, what price points don’t work, and what kind of clients or customers are not right for your business. All of these are tiny failures but when you add up what you’ve learned, they contribute to the future success of your business.

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

–Winston Churchill

VisionLaunch presents some interesting facts about failure and in an infographic about the Success and Failure Statistics of Startups. They state that first-time entrepreneurs have a 10% chance of success, while entrepreneurs that have previously failed have double that chance.

If you view each small failure as a huge catastrophe, you’ll hold yourself back from growing as an entrepreneur and from growing your business. If you can shift your perspective from viewing hiccups in the road as failures to instead seeing them as learning experiences, you can leverage these experiences to make changes and grow your business.

About the author:
Kristie Holden is an online marketing consultant. She helps startups get more leads by clarifying their message and creating a marketing strategy to attract and convert their ideal client. Connect with her on Instagram.

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