The study, from the Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, is The Guardian Life Index: What Matters Most to America's Small Business Owners. The survey of more than 1,000 entrepreneurs with between two and 99 workers first identified 60 critical factors for business success. These were then boiled down to six important skills that were common to successful business owners. These owners are:
- Collaborative. Delegating effectively and building good relationships with employees, vendors, and other partners is key. The study found successful owners had a win-win attitude and were dedicated to "creating opportunities for others."
- Self-fulfilled. Great entrepreneurs love being in control of their destiny, deciding how hard to work and when, and deriving personal fulfillment and gratification from operating their businesses.
- Future-focused. Good business owners aren't just slogging through the day, focused on keeping the doors open another 24 hours. They're the woman or man with a plan.
- Curious. Constant learning is a hallmark of winning business leaders. They're always looking for opportunities to improve how they manage their business.
- Tech-savvy. The study found winners "intensively value their company's Web site and are significantly more likely to rely a great deal on technology to help make our business more effective and more efficient."
- Action oriented. Successful entrepreneurs are taking proactive steps to build their businesses. They indicated high levels of agreement with phrases such as "commitment to taking the business to the next level," "differentiating ourselves from competitors," and "having something to sell when I'm ready to retire." These glass-half-full types saw hard times as "a kick in the rear to help move you forward."
Did they leave any important traits out? Leave your nominations for the most important characteristics of entrepreneurs in the comments below.