small business owner success

10 Habits of Highly Successful Small Business Owners

Kelly Spors

The unfortunate reality is that a lot of small businesses fail. What differentiates those that fail from those that become raging successes?

Certain traits and habits help business owners beat the odds and build highly successful companies. Here’s a look at the top 10:

1. Dream big.

Successful business owners are dreamers. “Business owners often create something out of nothing,” says Anita Campbell, founder and chief executive of, an online community for business owners. They wholeheartedly believe they can turn those dreams into reality, she says. “You have to see your business in your mind’s eye. You must have complete faith and belief in this vision of what your business can become from the very start, even when there’s hardly anything tangible yet.”

2. Spot opportunities.

Today’s most popular products and companies seemed like rather unlikely or even bizarre concepts when they were first introduced (think Twitter). But successful entrepreneurs are willing and able to think outside the box and see potential in ideas where other people don’t.

3. Know how to execute.

Lots of people have ideas. Taking an idea and figuring out how to bring it to market – and then getting people to actually buy it – is a completely different thing. It is this ability to execute that separates successful entrepreneurs from mere dreamers. The reason Facebook was able to beat out other social-networking sites such as MySpace is because Mark Zuckerberg and his team figured out how to win over consumers young and old and ultimately dominate their competitors.

4. Take small steps.

Even if their ideas are big, business owners know they aren’t able to achieve everything at once, Campbell says. “You never have enough. Never enough money. Never enough people. Never enough time in the day.” So they know how to prioritize and achieve things by taking small steps forward. They engage in incremental progress. “Over time, those daily steps will add up and eventually you will find they build into your big dream,” she adds.

5. Ask for help.

Many of today’s most famous business leaders have mentors, and most high-growth companies weren’t started by one person alone. That’s because even smart people need a sounding board. They look for people who have experience in their industry and find business partners that complement – not duplicate – their own skills.

6. Be nimble.

Like everyone, successful business owners make lots of mistakes. The difference, however, is that they are willing to learn from and accept those mistakes and change course – sometimes quickly. No one is going to care about stumbles along the way if the venture was a success at the end of the day.

7. Be confident.

They don’t let self-doubt or naysayers get in their way. Their persistence pushes them forward and keeps them focused, even when things don’t always work out.

8. Unafraid to fail.

Fear of failure prevents many people from starting businesses or trying new things. Successful entrepreneurs understand the risks and try to mitigate them, but don’t let risks stop them from pursuing their goals.

9. Build strong teams.

As companies start to grow and hire more people, owners know they can’t take that too lightly. Their employees and managers are the backbone of the business. Successful companies spend a lot of time figuring out what traits and skills — both hard and soft– they want in employees and then determine how they will find those people. The ability to hire well – as well as fire – is crucial.

10. Delegate tasks.

It’s often hard for business owners to let go. They built their companies from the ground up, after all. But the most successful ones know they can’t do everything, especially as their business grows. After they hire the right people, they let them do their jobs so they can focus on what they do best.

Download our free eBook: 21 Days to Be a More Productive Small Business Owner

What traits do you have and what traits are you currently working toward strengthening? Tell us in the comments below. 

32 Responses to "10 Habits of Highly Successful Small Business Owners"
    • Joseph Pfeiffer | August 21, 2019 at 7:45 am

      I routinely consult with small and mid sized business owners to help them maximize the performance, profits and growth of their business. You are spot on with these 10 habits. I just wish we could get more entrepreneurs to follow them.

      • Chloe Silverman | August 21, 2019 at 8:54 am

        Thank you, Joseph!

    • Dawn Armstrong | August 20, 2019 at 11:24 pm

      Thank you for this article! I have worked through and continue on #1-8. With #9 & 10, my team consists of contractors, mentors, friends & family. When I need to delegate, it’s to contractors. But I SO appreciate the advice, support and contributions from ALL of my team. I know I will be able to hire and be more than a business of 1 soon enough.

      • Chloe Silverman | August 21, 2019 at 8:53 am

        Thank you for the comment, Dawn!

    • Tippy | September 25, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      Team building from inside out! This will bring tremendous amount of good energy to work place, everyone benefits!!

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 26, 2018 at 11:21 am

        Thanks, Tippy!

    • Ernestine Williams | September 21, 2018 at 8:31 pm

      Ernestine Williams
      I am a 67 years young and I own my own homemade cookie shop in Palmyra NJ. This came about from a vision in 1975, maybe before any of you were born🙂. The ten points are very true. I feel I have the right team no (I am not going to say the perfect team, because nothing is perfect. My mentor is a gentleman who I meet 5 years ago and his mentor ship has helped me in ways you could not imagine. Faith yes it’s hard, belief it is hard. I just wake everyday thank God the Creator
      And get to work. I know big things are in store. Wholesale , retail, corporate accounts and fund raising. Than you for this time .

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 24, 2018 at 9:14 am

        Hi Ernestine, thanks for your feedback! Congrats on the success of your cookie shop!

    • Michele Watson-Bradford | September 20, 2018 at 6:17 pm

      Thank you for these, I appreciate them. I’ve learned how to accept humble beginnings. I am an Author of Children’s Religious Books that no one knows yet, but I’ve sold enough copies to receive a royalty check. I also sell Bathroom Accessories sets and have sells on that as well. One day the whole world is going to know who Michele Watson is. Thank you again,

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 24, 2018 at 9:11 am

        Thank you for your kind feedback, Michele!

    • T Nelson | September 20, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      I was feeling a bit of doubt today. This email and the comments weee right on time.

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 2:52 pm

        Thanks for your feedback, T!

    • Tom Bonavita | September 20, 2018 at 11:59 am

      Just crossed the 10 year mark after starting from scratch. Over 880 projects later averaging $8500 per project has taught me a couple of key things:

      1) Have integrity, not just with your customers but with your employees, and most importantly, with yourself. Don’t BS anyone and don’t believe your own BS.

      2) Make sure your customers are happy. Golden rule applies especially to them. Think about the companies you enjoy doing business with and why. Apply those attributes to your product and service delivery.

      3) Never make it hard for customers to give you money.

      4) Be communicative with your customers. Most people realize that issues arise and are accommodating if they are kept in the loop and know that your are trying your best to resolve them.

      5) Try to do your best. Don’t expect perfection from your employees or yourself. But expect them to try to do their best and set the lead by example.

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 2:52 pm

        Great advice for everyone Tom!

    • Lisa Toon | September 20, 2018 at 10:39 am

      Teacher for 15years, Caterer for 15 years and now chocolatier. The list is spot on. I’m on my third chapter of life and hope this one is more successful than the last.

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 2:51 pm

        What an amazing journey, Lisa! Thanks for your feedback.

    • Barry Uldrikson | September 20, 2018 at 10:07 am

      Being in a cash flow business independent of third party manipulation is best

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 2:51 pm

        We appreciate your feedback, Barry.

    • Berlinda Franklin | September 20, 2018 at 9:27 am

      Hello, I’ve had my massage therapy business for 21 years. I possess a few of these traits. I love the advice! Whew! I’ll continue to work on my confidence, execute my new ideas and team build. Thank you!

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 2:50 pm

        Thanks Berlinda!

    • Angus | September 20, 2018 at 8:38 am

      Thank you for this!! #7 seems to be the most difficult for me. Keep these coming!

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 2:49 pm

        Thanks, Angus!

    • Joan Burkholder | September 20, 2018 at 7:40 am

      This is one of the best bits of advice I have seen in this news letter fro Hartford. CICI has been in business for close to 30 years. We started with $1000.00 and a list of prospective customers (34 to be exact) who knew that we had the expertise to provide them with devices they wanted, would use, worked for long periods of time and with a high level of precision. For many years we had little or no competition. That same 34 customers who have not retired or passed on to another life still buy from us.

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 8:21 am

        Congratulations on your success, Joan! We appreciate your feedback.

    • Kate Luther | September 19, 2018 at 10:05 pm

      Great 10 totally agree

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 8:19 am

        Thanks Kate!

    • Ruben Sanchez | September 19, 2018 at 9:31 pm

      These 10 items hit the spot for my life/career right now!!! I am in my 5-6th career as an entrepreneur and this was ON POINT!! The previous careers, I feel, were NOT failures, but, building blocks & learning to be where I am today!!!!!

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 8:19 am

        Ruben, thank you for your feedback!

    • Julie Riedl | September 19, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      I really look forward to these tips. Thank you

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 8:19 am

        Thanks, Julie!

    • Milton E Jackson | September 19, 2018 at 6:29 pm

      I am CEO of Veterans 3 Janitorial LLC a new startup company that’s wants to a make a differance in the community. We all were born in Washington and we are all veterans. We need all the help we can from every where.

      • Hannah Sullivan | September 20, 2018 at 8:18 am

        Milton, congrats on your new startup!

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