Characteristics Of A Genuine Business Owner

We see it too many times: a business owner who is just after your money or is just looking to make a sale. It’s a sad reality in the world that there are owners out there who know how to play the game and how to make a fool out of customers. The purpose of this article is to help people understand the qualities that a genuine business owner should have and what people should look out for.

#1: A Business Owner Should Always Be Willing to Admit Imperfections And Fault

Imperfections are always going to be a part of our lives, both personally and professionally. I’m sure all of you have seen various guarantees or promises by businesses for a top result in a short period of time. A genuine owner is the kind that will admit that their product is not perfect and that it is a work in progress. A business owner should, of course, stand by the effectiveness of their products and services, but he or she must not be afraid to admit imperfections about their products/services, and their business.

#2: A Business Owner Must Be Available And Willing To Answer Many Questions About Their Products, Services, and Criticisms

If there’s one key trait an owner must possess in order to be successful, it is a willingness to answer questions. Prospective clients will always have questions about products and services. It is the responsibility of the owner to be able to answer those questions effectively without evading them. If they do not know the answer, they need to communicate that openly to the client and research the answer to give to the client at a later time.

Any business owner who tries to evade questions or is unwilling to answer questions should be a dead giveaway that the owner is not genuine. Enduring questions and criticism is a key part of success in a business. Those questions and critcisms can provide an opportunity for the owner to improve their business if they make the best use of such opportunities.

#3: A Business Owner Should Be More Concerned About Learning About The Customer, As Opposed To Making A Sale

This is a tough one because every business is different, and some depend on the sale more than other businesses such as car salespeople and sales positions at various companies. My educational background has taught me that it is better to focus on the customer and their goals and needs as opposed to getting them to buy a product. I feel this makes the owner more genuine because they really learn about the customer and can better assist the customer in getting them the right product and service. It is also just as important to let the consumer decide on their own time whether they should buy the product or service as opposed to badgering them on the spot to purchase it.

Again, all businesses are different and some depend on making sales more than others. However, it is my personal belief that a business owner who spends time learning about the customer and letting them make their own decision on their own time comes across as a more genuine owner because the owner has placed the decision in the consumer’s hands, where it should have been from the very start.

Are You an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner?

Do you want to be an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner? Is there a difference, and does it matter?

There is a difference, and it’s easy to confuse the two or use the two terms interchangeably. A Small Business Owner owns their own business, but also actively participates in that business. Often the Small Business Owner is critical to the ongoing success of the company. Without him or her, the business either does not exist (i.e. medical, legal, accounting, consulting, freelancing) or would suffer greatly in the owner’s absence for any period of time.

We often use the term “Solopreneur” to refer to the individual practitioner who is their own boss but must personally deliver a service or create a product for their business to generate revenue. While this may certainly be better than working for someone else, it’s still about trading time for money – and time is our most limited resource.

Whether you are a Solopreneur or a Small Business Owner, you likely own a business that depends primarily on you. Perhaps the business is run by you and a couple of other founders. The point is, only a few people know and can execute on the secret recipe at the foundation of your business. And those key people must be present for the business to operate.

An Entrepreneur instead builds a business and supporting systems that are independent from the founder. The founder may well be an integral (or exclusive) part of the businesses initially, but the goal is always to grow the business to the point where the owner does not have to be involved in day-to-day operations. When you build a business that continues to generate revenues in your absence, then you have created a truly leveraged model and can call yourself an Entrepreneur.

Many of us start as Small Business Owners, enjoy success, and grow our companies. We may then move on to creating a larger business that does not require us to be present, and we graduate to the level of Entrepreneurship. If we repeat this multiple times, then we may call ourselves Serial Entrepreneurs.

“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”
Howard Stevenson, Harvard Business School Professor.

You may not be clear at the start as to which one you want to grow up to be, an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner. But by asking yourself a series of hard questions, and honestly assessing your true desires, you are more likely to start a business that suits you best. And it’s certainly acceptable if you want to be Small Business Owner… we are not saying that’s a bad thing. But it’s important for you to begin understanding the difference between the two as it may impact the type of business you build and how you plan to develop it.

It’s also important to avoid creating another low-paying harder-working “job”, like the one you may already have! Michael Gerber explains this situation best in his seminal book “The E-Myth”. This book is a must read for small business owners, with one of its major themes being the difference between working “in” your business (you make the pies) versus working “on” your business (others make the pies following your recipe and systems).

As you prepare to become your own boss, or if you have already started a small business, it’s important to keep your long-term vision in mind. Doing so will help you determine the type of business you start and build, helping ensure that you achieve your definition of success.

Do you want to be an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner? Here are some questions to ask to help you determine want you really want:

Do you want to own just one or two locations (i.e. one or two franchise units, or your own practice) or do you want to create something bigger with multiple locations and perhaps grow internationally (i.e. offer franchises and hire others to run the business)?
Do you want to work in the business (i.e. make the donuts) or do you want to have someone else manage the day-to-day operations (i.e. someone else makes the donuts following your instructions)?
Are you looking for a job or are you looking to create a self-managing company (a business that does not rely on your day-to-day presence for success)?
Do you prefer to create or do you enjoy executing?
Do you envision creating multiple different businesses across multiple industries?
Are you able to let go of all of the details, or are you a micro-manager?
Are you the only person who can deliver your service or product, or can you teach others how to do it?
Is your goal to work hard until a certain age and then retire, or continue creating and leading your businesses until you are no longer mentally capable?
Can you sell your business as it currently operates and without you having to continue being part of it?

9 Attitudes of Successful Business Owners

Your attitude that you show up with each day has a lasting impact on your behavior that affects your outcomes. A person’s attitude is an expression of their mindset at any time and in any given situation. Your attitude represents a feeling that can be changed instantly or maintained for a lifetime.

Why is this important?

It is important to understand the attitudes of the most successful business owners so you can emulate them and move your business forward.

Let’s begin.

1) Success Business owners are passionate about the success/value they can create. Unsuccessful ones are more passionate about watching people on TV live out their dreams in sports, movies shows etc. than actually going out and creating the life they want.

Action Steps:

Consider any major success story – what did they have in common?

· Passion for the value they could create.

· Ask yourself am I really passionate about my project?

· Is this passion sufficient to take me through all the ups and downs that I can expect in growing and scaling my business?

· If the passion is really not there – stop and rethink your next move carefully.

· As the old expression goes – “Don’t climb your business ladder to only learn it is leaning against the wrong wall”.

2) Successful owners maintain a positive mental attitude as a steady state condition. Unsuccessful ones have a mental state that changes and varies with outside circumstances.

Why is this important?

Many times in life you rise and fall to your level of expectations.

If you start with a Negative Mental Attitude you are likely to not fully apply yourself and get results consistent with your expectations.

Life is too short to be grumpy and you will attract other people who are also grumpy and will pull you down.

A positive mental attitude is not sufficient but it is a requirement to succeed.

Action Steps:

· Change your attitude right now by focusing all your thinking on what you are grateful for.

· You cannot maintain two completely different thoughts in your mind at the same time.

3) Successful owners are hyper consciousness about what they are thinking and their attitude at any given point in time. When they feel their attitude turning towards the worse they take massive evasive action to change their attitude since they know their attitude determines their altitude in life. Unsuccessful Business owners allow their emotions derived from their environment to run unchecked. They pay little attention to what they are thinking about and emotionally move with the current. Unsuccessful Business owners are not in control of their mental state.

Action Step:

· Take time at multiple points during the day and ask yourself: “What are my thoughts and feelings on ________ (the most pressing issue for you right now).

· Journal those thoughts and then analyze why you think the way you do.

4) Successful Business owners understand the importance of understanding the root of fear so they can eliminate it before it impacts their attitude. Successful Business owners have an abundance-oriented attitude and believe there is more than enough for everyone. Unsuccessful ones never get to the root of their fears and correspondingly their attitude is impacted. Unsuccessful Business owners have a scarcity-oriented attitude and believe that the pie is only so big – for them to prosper someone must suffer.

Action Steps:

· Write down a list of what you are fearful of.

· Separate the fears into two columns.

· Those that are rational with real consequences and those that are not rational without real consequences.

· For example jumping out of a perfectly good airplane to sky dive is a rational fear – you could die.

· Speaking to a group of 1000 industry peers at a conference is an irrational fear.

5) Successful Business owners have a can do attitude and focus on what they want irrespective of the odds. Unsuccessful ones allow the statistics of others to shape what they believe is possible and often settle in life.

Action Steps:

· Write down very clearly what you want and why you want it.

· Now go deeper and ask the question why again – you will soon discover your internal core motivation and it is this motivation that you need to harness to drive you through to achieve what you want.

· Pay no attention to the Nay Sayers and those that tell you why the odds are against you – they have already given up on their dreams and consider themselves to be “practical”.

6) Successful Business owners maintain an attitude of true collaboration and cooperation with others because the notion of competition while important is not the primary focus. Successful Business owners preoccupy their mind with offering incredible service as a way to differentiate themselves and be selected by the market. Unsuccessful Business owners believe that competition is the primary focus and their attitude is they must beat their competitors into the ground. Unsuccessful Business owners preoccupy their mind with how they can hurt the competition and by accident win new customers.

Action Step:

· Develop the ideal customer journey path for your client.

· Vividly imagine how a district and delightful experience can be crafted to meet your customer where they are to help them get to where they want to go.

· Focus 100% on the customer problem and anticipating their needs because you understand them so well.

7) Successful Business owners maintain a balanced attitude and seldom allow events in life to be taken personally. They look at life’s events objectively and are careful with the labels they use. Unsuccessful Business owners love to assign labels to everything and often get very excited because they take everything personally.

Action Step:

· Exercise your intellectual asset of Perception – whenever you examine a new idea – turn it over in your mind to see things from all perspectives.

· Be very careful before you assign a label to something as being “good” or as being “bad” because these choices impact your thinking downstream.

· For example if you lose a key customer and associated this as a “Terrible Loss” you cut your mind off from understating why they left and what can be done to improve the customer experience to:

· retain the rest of your clients and

· To innovate your service to attract more clients.

8) Successful owners maintain an attitude rooted in humility. Their inner self does not need this validation. Unsuccessful owners win so seldom that they want the whole world to acknowledge how great they are when it happens. Their sensitive inner self needs this validation

Action Steps:

· Objectively look at how you respond to wins and loses relative to your interactions with others

· Do you boast about your wins or are a quietly confident individual?

· Consider asking those that are very close to you this question and see what they say.

9) Successful Business owners maintain an attitude that is open to being wrong. Unsuccessful Business owners believe they are seldom wrong because they are so smart and accomplished

Action Steps:

· Make a list of mistakes you have made or were wrong about your business.

· Take a look at your financial statements and ask yourself this question again. If you struggle to see your weakness you will never address it or compensate for it through smart hires.

Business Owners Need to Start Growing Into Their Exit

In today’s market environment, many business owners are taking a look at the state of their businesses and measuring that businesses viability and continued profitability against their future exit. What many business owners are realizing is that it is time to get the company in shape in order to prepare for an exit – even if that exit is a number of years into the future.

Setting a plan for an exit requires a perspective on what a business owner is trying to achieve and when it is possible to attain such an outcome. An important consideration for every business owner is that of ‘exit windows’, or, how to time their exit to meet their personal goals. Once they understand the timing of their exit, there is an opportunity for them to begin planning today and to start making critical decisions based upon achieving this future exit. Without this type of planning, a business owner will likely find themselves without direction for their exit, and possibly missing the next exit window.

So, what should business owners be doing today to understand how to grow into their exit? Well, they can begin with the end in mind and understand that their personal needs from their business can be measured against where the business currently is.

In order to manage anything in life and in business, you need to be able to measure it. A measurement of a business owner’s current value becomes very important. Therefore a plan to grow that value as a business owner approaches their exit becomes a critical part of the exit planning process.

There are three components that a business owner should be looking at when thinking about growing into their exit. They are:

Profitability
Sustainability
Transferability

Let’s take a look at these three critical components in order to help further analyze the opportunities for a successful exit.

Profitability The profitability of a business is best understood as ‘the cash flows that would be available to somebody, other than current owner, who was to own that business.’ Profitability is critical to an exit because any future owner of the business – be it a buyer from within the industry or the management team, or another party – will want to know what they can expect as a return from owning that business. Although today’s profitability may be lower than the past, business owners need to look ahead to the future to understand where the profitability will be and make the best projections that can be made. Business Owners need to be able to assume future profits and direct their efforts towards achieving them. And, once they have understood their Value Gap – i.e. the amount of money that’s needed to get out of their business to meet their personal goals – they will be focused on a purpose in achieving that profitability.
Sustainability The second element to a successful business exit is sustainability – i.e. will the future owner be able to continue to generate profits in the company without the previous owner being here? This is a challenge for the small business owner in today’s marketplace. Many owners are experiencing the short-term effects of feeling that their profits are not sustainable because of the economic environment. However, sustainability of their profits extends beyond simply generating cash flow. They also need to take steps to assure that the next owner will be confident that the profits will continue. The simple task of managing their business with systems and controls that are run by someone other than them is a good first step and something that can be accomplished in this market downturn. By doing this, business owners increase the ‘sustainability’ of their profits. And, by understanding how to sustain the profits in their business, they can look to grow into their exit.
Transferability The last component of growing into an exit is the transferability of those profits. Many businesses that are owned and operated by the primary business owner are non-transferable because when that owner becomes detached from the business, the business ceases to operate as it currently does. By focusing on transferability of a business, business owners will help ensure that management and the employees are capable to run the business, that systems and processes are well developed, that the brand is independent of the owner, that the customer will survive the owner’s exit, and that the business model is supportable without the owner. All of these issues can, and should, be addressed in today’s market environment for the owner who wants to exit during the next window of opportunity.

In conclusion, if business owners know that their “exit window” is four (4) or five (5) years away, it is important for them to begin planning today. They will want to run their business with their exit in mind, focusing on its profitability, sustainability, and transferability. In this way, business owners can increase the likelihood of meeting their exit goals, which have been measured as a part of their total exit strategy planning.

Income Replacement For Sick Business Owners

If you are the business owner and you become sick, how are you, or the business for that matter, going to be able to pay for that? Typically, a business owner is needed in their business in order for it to function. When a business owner becomes sick the business suffers. Many business owners never think about this until it is too late. Just like most insurance programs, we cannot buy it after the fact.

Owners typically sit with their accountant, lawyer and people they trust and they work up business plans, goals, and the like to keep their business profitable. On the personal side, they may even do some financial planning and protection with a will or even a trust. Beyond that, the focus is on profits.

There is nothing wrong with focusing on profits. After all, isn’t that the reason we all go into business? However, if the owner doesn’t plan on protecting the asset they built, they will have a hard time focusing on profits in the event they become seriously ill. The focus will turn to keeping the business afloat until they are better. The unfortunate thing is illness does not discriminate. You could be the next business on the front page of the newspaper talking about closing their doors due to a serious illness.

Planning to protect your family and business in the event a business owner becomes seriously ill isn’t that difficult. In fact, with the right insurance agent, the agent will take care of all the details for the business owner and give them a path towards the right amount of protection. Having the right amount of protection, when you need the most, out weighs the time and effort in pursuing this type of protection. It really comes down to the question is it worth the small investment to come out ahead versus ignoring it and possibly going bankrupt personally as well as professionally. Try rebuilding after everything you worked hard for has collapsed after a serious illness. It is not as easy as one may think.

It can be viewed as selfishness if a business owner ignores reviewing this type of coverage for themselves and their businesses in the eyes of their customers, friends and family. It’s not the customers, friends or family members fault if the business owner has to make changes to their product or business that they originally liked, such as pricing or benefits of a product, or even close your doors because you are too sick to keep up on happy customers.

A business owner that takes action could be in a position to replace his or her income in the event they are seriously ill. This will give the business the opportunity to replace the owner while they are recovering. Maybe the business owner will decide it’s time to retire while the business still continues on without suffering with the loss of their expertise. The important thing here is the business owner can focus on become well again and to customers can still take advantage of a competitive strong business that continues to provide value.

The income replacement can be done with several different insurance products for asset protection, depending on the business and person. Not everyone can qualify, but if you do, it can be emotionally as well as financially rewarding in the event the business owner actually has to use the benefit. Disability insurance can be hard to qualify for a business owner for several reasons. Some life insurance policies have accelerated living benefits attached to the policy at no extra cost. This is a benefit that allows you access to cash when you have a qualifying event. This can be on a Term Life, Whole Life or Universal Life contract, depending on the insurance company. Some of them may allow you to add on a disability rider for benefits up to age 65, for accidents as well as illnesses, or a waiver of premium during the qualifying time period. Not all benefits are attainable or available with all products. Seek professional advice on such products.