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  • Writer's pictureDavid Parker

Being a successful business owner in 2021

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

“Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer.”

This anonymous quote perfectly describes the character of a successful small business owner. It takes more work than most people realise and you have to be willing to plow through when the going gets tough. Whether you’re thinking about opening a florist, setting up a bistro or your own consulting firm, business owners need to be determined, open-minded thinkers willing to dive headfirst into the unknown. That said, owning a business also offers a unique career path that allows for creative flexibility and the ability to be your own boss. We're a small business too, so know exactly how our customers experience the highs and lows of running your own show. Here’s what you need to know about becoming a small business owner.

Small business and the economy

Research shows that small business owners are the backbone of most countries and are a major force in driving the economy forward. According to there are 5.97m small businesses in the UK alone.

Pros and cons of being a small business owner

According to a survey conducted by the digital marketing firm Constant Contact, 56% of small business owners feel they can never be away from their businesses, and 84% say that if they could, they would start their businesses all over again. Clearly, being a business owner has its perks and its downsides. But most agree that the pros heavily outweigh the cons.


Why does someone decide to start a business anyway? One of the main reasons is independence and the autonomy to do things your own way. In fact, small business owners report that there are two driving factors behind their motivation: the ability to pursue their passions and professional flexibility. There’s nothing like getting to be your own boss and creating your own product or service. It’s an even better feeling when customers are willing to spend their hard-earned money to buy it. You're in control of your destiny and the sky is the limit in terms of earning potential, growth and achieving your objectives. Other benefits include getting to hire your own employees and setting the tone for your business’ brand and culture.


The downsides of being a small business owner are overshadowed by the advantages. Still, it’s no secret that business ownership is not for everyone. Small business owners work exceedingly hard, spending their own time and money to operate and grow their businesses. Because of this, they may not make a profit for quite some time. They also have to say goodbye to 40-hour work weeks, at least at the beginning. Often, they work 50-70 hours a week, which can sometimes make work-life balance nearly impossible. Even after putting in the hours, 56% claim they don’t have enough time to get everything done. The buck stops with you and being ill, on holiday etc... is tricky until a strong structure is established where the business doesn't need you there all the time. Wearing multiple hats at once can also cause extra stress, anxiety and fear of failure. But don’t let these factors sway you from creating your own small business. Perseverance and determination are the secret sauce for success, especially in the longer term.

10 qualities of successful small business owners

That leads us to the next point: small business owners require a unique combination of certain soft skills in order to keep their companies up and running. Being comfortable with taking risks and learning how to manage a budget are just two of the skills that are essential for business management. With that in mind, here are 10 essential qualities of successful small business owners:

  1. Be personable and approachable

  2. Be prepared to evolve

  3. Take risks - calculated ones

  4. Be independent

  5. Be confident

  6. Know when to take a break

  7. Stick to the budget

  8. Prioritise

  9. Look at the big picture

  10. Get a pro on your side - a great accountant or advisor is proven to help you be more successful.

01. Be personable and approachable Being kind to others may sound trite, but making connections with your employees, customers, vendors and even competitors can actually bring you more business. Additionally, consumers don’t make purchasing decisions based on a product alone; they are also swayed by what your represents. In fact, experts point out that kindness in itself is a powerful strategy. You are more likely to have repeat customers who will tell their friends and family to buy from you instead of the guy down the street. In turn, your bottom line will increase and people will get the product they need (and let’s face it-yours is the best out there anyway).

02. Be prepared to evolve The market will inevitably shift over time and business owners need to adapt to keep their product relevant. Refusing to change your approach to what consumers want or need will only hurt you in the long run. An excellent example is the way some restaurants adapted to the changes brought about by Covid-19. dining restaurants are now offering fine dining meals to go. The ability to quickly adapt, not only allowed them to survive but thrive in many cases as they developed another revenue stream.

03. Take Risks

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, once noted that “the biggest risk is not taking any risk.” Starting a business always means taking a chance; there’s no way to know for certain whether it will work. While successful small business owners make educated decisions and use market research to drive their ideas forward, it’s impossible to know what the future holds. Investing your own time and money into a business is always a risk but goes hand in hand with being a business owner.

04. Be independent The ability to think for yourself and make important decisions are both vital traits for any entrepreneur. Independence provides the drive to get where you want to go without the influence of others’ opinions or any outside noise. Perhaps you have a unique idea for a product or service that hasn’t been created before. Independence gives you the ability to put yourself out there and take the initiative to make it happen.

05. Be confident Confidence and independence often go hand-in-hand. Having confidence in your business and financial decisions is vital. Because your business lives and dies with you, you need to believe in yourself to move forward and weather the storm through difficult situations. On top of that, confidence instills respect and encourages others to see you as a leader. This can have a major impact on team management. Strong leaders are rewarded with increased productivity and creativity from their employees, making the business overall more efficient.

06. Know when to take a break

While it’s true that small business owners work tirelessly, they also know when to take a break. Burnout is characterised by exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy and can lead to feelings of overwhelm and decreased motivation. The best way to avoid it is by making sure to incorporate certain habits into your daily life, such as scheduling time away from your business. Even if all you get is thirty solid minutes to focus on yourself or spend time with loved ones, make sure to do it. Successful business owners understand the value of having time away from their work, even if it’s only for a short time each day.

07. Stick to the budget

Overspending can be the death of your business. In fact, 82% of small businesses fail due to poor cash flow management. When creating your budget and business plan, a tip is to overestimate expenses and underestimate income. That way you’ll never be stretched too thin and always be prepared for unexpected costs. 08. Prioritise More often than not, the number of things you have to do is overwhelming. If you work alone and don’t have anyone to delegate tasks to, this trait is particularly important. As a business owner, you’ll need to hone your project management skills to determine which tasks have the most business value and which ones can fall lower on your priority list. A good way to start this process is by labeling your list of tasks as important or urgent. As a rule of thumb: Important tasks are those that are vital to the business’ long-term success but may not need to get done right away. Urgent ones are those that require immediate attention and are necessary to keep your business up and running. These should always be prioritised first.

A handy tool to help determine which tasks to prioritise is Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix. This simple chart can help you easily break down your list of projects into four main categories: urgent/important, not urgent/important, urgent/not important and not urgent/not important.

9. Look at the big picture

It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. Any difficulties that arise may cause you to question why you started your business in the first place. But remind yourself of those reasons, and look at your overall success instead of minor pitfalls - that’s what will keep you moving forward in the long run. 10. Get a pro onboard Shameless plug for our own small business, but we've been helping business owners like you since 2007. It can be a bit lonely sometimes running a business and having someone to bounce ideas off and keep your number sin check is invaluable and nobody want to be doing this late at night after a hard day. Spend that time getting more new business and making money. Get in touch: article extract from Wix

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