Do You Have What It Takes to Run a Business?

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Many people dream of one day opening up their own business. On television shows like Shark Tank and The Profit, we see entrepreneurs of all types who are trying to make their dreams of successful business ventures come true, and these dreams are not that far-fetched.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, between 1994 and 2010, there was an average of about 605,000 business establishments born each year. Statistics from last year indicate that around 543,000 new businesses get started each month — this is including home operations and self-employed individuals with no employees or payroll, though. Some of these businesses turned into profitable ventures, and others ended up being complete flops.

Only around a quarter of businesses that began in 1994 were still alive and well in 2010. Regardless to which year a business begins, however, the BLS indicates that business survival rates tend follow a similar pattern, and that over time, only the strongest ones will survive.

Of course, factors like industry, capital funding, and the product or service the business offers play a large role. But one major factor that impacts the success or failure of a business are the entrepreneurs themselves. Does that person have what it takes to grow the business and maintain its success? Do you have what it takes to run a successful business?

Gallup recently analyzed a nationally representative sample of entrepreneurs, studying thousands of successful entrepreneurs over three decades. According to the research database, the following are 10 key talents successful entrepreneurs possess:

  1. Business focus: They remain focused on the bottom-line impact of business decisions.
  2. Confidence: They are self-confident, and they have the ability to understand others.
  3. Creative thinkers: They are able to think outside the box, finding creative ways to make a product, service, or process better.
  4. Delegators: They know they cannot do everything, and are willing to consider other’s views and opinions.
  5. Determination: They get back up and dust themselves off, even through the most difficult obstacles.
  6. Independent: They’ll do whatever it takes to build a successful business.
  7. Knowledge-seekers: They recognize there is always more to learn and they seek out this knowledge.
  8. Promoters: They are the best spokesperson for their business.
  9. Relationship-builders: They are good in social situations and are adept at building beneficial relationships for the business.
  10. Risk-takers: They instinctively know how to manage risk.


The most successful entrepreneurs (the top 5%) 

Gallup found that most successful entrepreneurs — those you read about in Inc. and Forbes, for instance — generally possess at least eight out of 10 of the key talents. Other entrepreneurs of course possess some of these talents, and some may even perform well, but not to the same degree as the top performers. Overall, highly talented business owners outperformed all other business owners in several areas, which you can see in the chart below.

Graphic: Erika Rawes/Data source: Gallup

Are you a strong creative thinker? Do you have confidence, business focus, or skills as a relationship builder? You may just have what it takes to build and run a successful business.

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