Topic overview

Running a business

Running a businessHaving a viable business idea is only one aspect of what you need to succeed. Your experience, knowledge and skill are crucial when running your business. If you are lacking skills or knowledge in some areas you should seek help or training to address those gaps. Much will also depend on your personal qualities.

If you're sure running your own business is the right thing for you, you'll need a fair measure of self-confidence if you are to move things forward. This can be developed over time, but if you are the shy and retiring type, running your own business might not be right for you.

The qualities required to successfully run a business

Successful entrepreneurs are usually ambitious, competitive and passionate. They're creative and resourceful, often willing to take calculated risks.

Doggedly determined and naturally optimistic, they believe in themselves and their ideas. When starting and running your own business, you've got be prepared to take the rough with the smooth - and 'take it on the chin' when setbacks occur. Your determination to overcome the odds might one day prove the difference between survival and failure.

Starting a business can be a lonely and thankless pursuit. Things are easier if you can count on the support of family and friends, but there will be times when you'll feel isolated. The support of a mentor or trusted advisor can also be enormously beneficial.

Entrepreneurial drive, belief and vision

You'll be the main driving force behind your new business, which is why you need faith in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, you can't expect others to.

A common quality that links many successful entrepreneurs is vision. They're able to look into the future and see the bigger picture. They have goals and firm ideas about how to achieve them. They understand their market and adapt their businesses to meet demand.

Your customers, suppliers and any employees will depend on you - so don't expect an easy ride. Running your own business is likely to require longer hours, not less, so don't do it if you're looking for an easier life.

Communication skills

Effective communication skills are essential when running your own business. You'll have to be able to deal with all manner of people in different situations - an angry customer one minute, an employee who needs geeing up the next, then possibly you might need to get tough with a supplier who has let you down.

Communication is not just about talking - you've also got to be a good listener. And sometimes you won't like what you hear, but criticism goes with the turf. Some of it will be justified, some perhaps not, but you can't take things personally. Starting a business involves a steep learning curve and you must accept that you don't know everything. Ask for advice from the right people when you need it and act on it.

Realism, organisation and discipline

Overnight success stories are the exception in business, so you'll need to be patient and realistic with your ambitions.

You'll also need to be versatile, organised and disciplined if you're to get through your daily to-do list. This is likely to include jobs that you don't enjoy or have no previous experience of. You will need to ensure you comply with tax and filing requirements and make sure you pay any VAT, tax and National Insurance contributions due for yourself and your employees.

Many people and tasks will compete for your attention (including many unwelcome distractions), while you'll have to organise your own workload. You might not enjoy some of these key tasks, but someone's got to do them.

Hopefully, you're not feeling too put off by this point, but better to have realistic ideas about what running your own business will be like. Few people have all the necessary skills and personal qualities required when they start out in business. They can be developed over time - but you must have a willingness to listen, learn and move forward.

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