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Have You Got What It Takes? 20 Characteristics You’ll Need As a Business Owner 1. The Desire To Be In Charge. As the boss, no one is going to tell you what you should be doing or how or when to do things. From now on, it’s your call. 2.

Imagination and Initiative. Being the boss isn’t just about telling others to do things for you. You’ll need to come up with the ideas and the goals and inspire others to work towards these too.

3. Strong Persuasive Powers. From the bank manager, to your friends and family, to your staff and ultimately your customers, you are going to have to persuade everyone that what you are selling is first-rate. 4. Caution. In the first flush of enthusiasm, it’s easy to rush out there before you have thought everything through. Do your homework. Is everything in place before you start? It is a proven fact that successful business owners are moderate risk takers. Don’t take big risks. Test the waters and take advice. In particular, make sure that you seek professional advice where it’s needed. 5. Drive. It’s all very well coming up with ideas, but you’ll need energy and persistence as well as enthusiasm to get you off the ground. 6. The Ability To Work Hard. As they say, some people don’t know the meaning of hard work. In the early days, you may have to give your business every ounce of your energy. You don’t just put 24/7 on your business cards because it sounds good. If you and your family can accept this, then you are off to a good start. However, if you’ll resent the long hours and time away from leisure activities, you’ll struggle. Be honest with yourself and find ways to work so that you are committed for the long term. 7. Resilience. There will be times when business will slump. At times like this, it is essential to stay positive and to find the ways and means to fight your way back to the top. 8. Flexibility. We’re not talking Yoga moves here, but if things aren’t going to plan, is there another way they could be done? Running a business is about being able to juggle, revise and adjust. 9. Being Able To Accept Responsibility. As the boss, the buck stops with you – whoever’s fault it is. Be prepared for this and learn how to be a fixer not a blamer. 10. Having Problem-solving Ability. Good entrepreneurs don’t panic or stick their heads in the sand when something goes wrong. Instead, they find a way © Copyright 2012 -

to turn things around to their advantage. Face up to any problems and fix them as quickly as you can. 11. Being Able To See Things From Other People’s Point Of View. You may be the boss and your word goes, but make sure you also look at things from the point of view of your customers and staff. Would you want to employ your company? Would you want to work for you? You can’t please everybody all of the time, but without happy customers and a happy team, you won’t have a successful business. Be prepared to meet people half way if it will solve a problem. 12. Self-sufficiency. If you are used to working alone this will not be a problem for you. However, many people find that they miss the office environment and the camaraderie of their peers. Be prepared for this when you decide how to develop your business. If balancing books late into the night gets you down, employ a bookkeeper to free up some time to spend with your family and friends. If running a business feels like too much of a weight on your shoulders, look into teaming up with someone who can share the burdens. 13. Leading by Example: Convey your good working practices to your staff. Show them that you expect the same working standards that you set yourself. Above all, motivate your staff. 14. Staying Grounded. Being the boss does not mean that everybody else gets to do the hard work. Be fair to employees – delegate the tasks that your staff are employed to do, but don’t expect them to make important decisions or to tackle difficult problems that should be your responsibility. Always be prepared to step into the breach if necessary. 15. Great Organisational Skills. In business you need to plan not just for the day or week ahead, but also for the year or years ahead. Work out systems so that you do not drop any plates along the way, whether this means redesigning your office space, upgrading your technology or computer skills, or taking on staff. 16. Being Competitive. Those that succeed in business want to be the best and stay the best. Successful entrepreneurs never get complacent. They are continually looking for ways to grow and improve their business and put a lot of effort into staying ahead of their competitors. 17. Controlling. There’s no need to be a control freak, but make sure never to let your business run away with you. Stay as many steps ahead as you can. 18. Honesty. Shoddy work, overcharging and promising what you can’t deliver isn’t a long-term strategy for success. Customers aren’t stupid. If you unavoidably run into difficulties, tell your customers. It is surprising how many compromises can be reached by playing it straight. 19. Being Able to Do The Sums. Simply put, money coming in has to be more than money going out. Make sure that you have a full understanding of all

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your overheads and expenses so that you can be sure your profits really are profits. 20. Being Willing to go The Extra Mile. Just that little bit of extra effort can go a long way . . . making the time to attend to an emergency call out; having a good stock of materials in your van to fix on the spot repairs; hand-delivering flyers to houses in the road in which you are working; being punctual; being neat; being cheerful. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot but that small effort could be the difference between you getting your next job or your competitor. Be prepared to give 110% to all areas of your business

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Evaluate your entrepreneurial potential by completing the table below. In each box chose between low, moderate or high and add any comments. In the final column, add your action plan to deal with any low-scoring areas. Characteristics



Desire To Take Charge


Persuasive Powers

Risk Taking

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Action Plan


Ability To Work Hard



Ability To Accept Responsibility

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Problem-solving Ability

Ability To See Things From Other People’s Point Of View


Ability To Lead By Example

Ability To Stay Grounded.

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Organisational Skills

Competitive Nature

Ability To Stay In Control


Financial Control

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Going The Extra Mile

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Do you have the right business skills? To be successful in business requires more than being a first-rate electrician. On top of your specialist electrical skills, have you thought about brushing up your computer skills, your skills in financial management, or employing and managing staff? Here are some areas to think about. If you answer yes to most of them, you are raring to go. If you have quite a few No’s on the page, however, you may want to take advantage of further training.

 Do you have clerical and bookkeeping experience?  Do you have first-rate communication skills?  Can you negotiate credit terms with suppliers?  Can you stay on top of money coming in and having to be paid out?  Can you create a spreadsheet on your computer?  Can you create a failsafe invoicing system?  Can you manage your time efficiently?  Can you manage other people?  Are you a good presenter who handles meetings successfully?  Do you have good skills of negotiation?  Can you close a deal?  Can you motivate people?  Can you write a persuasive letter or copy?  Do you know the best ways to market your business?  Can you see ways to expand your business in the future and to stay ahead of your competitors?

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What are your training needs? Experience counts for a lot, but in some areas it may be better to seek out formal training. It is for you to identify and decide where these areas lie.


How will this be valuable to my business?

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Do you have time management problems? Try completing the NCS Time Management Questionnaire to identify any time-poor areas in your working day. YES I procrastinate when faced with decisions. I find it difficult to get organised. I often lose things. I let myself get distracted by other things. I take on too much. I’m always waiting for other people to do their job. I am snowed under with correspondence. I am often late to meetings. I double book myself. I often have to go back to clients to confirm information. I am not sure what is in my diary for tomorrow/next week/next month. I like to nip off work as soon as I can. I can’t stop working even if it’s late at night. I find it difficult to prioritise. I am too optimistic about the time needed to complete a job. I can’t believe that anyone can do the job better than me. I often seem to have miscommunications with clients and people I work with. I correct other people’s mistakes. I am understaffed. I don’t ask customers for feedback until the job is finished. I find it a struggle to stay on top of my invoicing. I am too busy setting goals and not completing them. I feel low much of the time and find it hard to get on with the job.

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I don’t have time for my family and friends. I don’t have time to pay my household bills. I don’t have time for me.

Managing your time effectively is key to a successful business. Read through the questionnaire again and study your answers carefully. Try to establish ways to deal with any areas where you have identified problems. Remember, it’s not always possible to fix something overnight. Look for ways to make small changes at first or simply address one problem at a time. Every little helps.

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Getting Professional Advice You will almost certainly need to take professional advice about your business, whether it is getting a lawyer to look over a contract you have prepared, talking to a bank manager about a loan, or employing the services of an accountant or bookkeeper to help you stay on top of your accounts – and on the right side of the tax man.

Solicitors A solicitor will advise you on all the legal aspects of your business. Remember that solicitors’ fees can be high, so prepare well before your visit. Be as clear as you can be about what service you want from them and try to establish what details and documents they might want from you. In this way you can enjoy a more productive meeting and save yourself money.

Accountants An accountant will advise you on preparing your accounts and on dealing with relevant authorities about taxes, VAT and National Insurance. As your business grows, using an accountant can take a weight off your shoulders, particularly if you would prefer to be out in the field selling and marketing your business. Keeping track of financial affairs is not only essential to your business, it is a legal requirement. Your accountant will advise on exactly what records you need to keep. For example, you must keep complete records of your earnings and expenses (including all receipts). Computer packages can also help you with accounting, but you must make sure you have the skills and knowledge to use these correctly. If you are not computer literate, you would be wise to look for an appropriate course.

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Bookkeepers If you are organised and efficient at staying on top of your accounting, you may not need the services of a bookkeeper. However, in busy periods it is easy to forget to chase or pay invoices, and it is tempting to allow filing to pile up. Additionally, preparing your tax forms can be an annual headache, and a nightmare if you have not kept on top of your invoices and receipts. Employing a bookkeeper for a few hours a week will free up your time and give you the reassurance that your accounts are in good order.

Insurance brokers Your business must be adequately insured. An insurance broker will ensure that you have all necessary areas of your business covered, including public liability and employer’s liability if necessary, vehicles, tools and other business essentials. A good broker will not only get you the best deals on insurance, but will give you reassurance that you are covered if anything goes wrong. Insurance brokers do not charge you directly, but instead take a commission on the premiums you pay.

Banks Banks can offer you loans to get your business started, and will advise you on the best way to manage your business account. Don’t forget to shop around. Compare loans and interest rates before you commit and don’t forget Internet banking. Remember that before offering you a loan, your bank manager will want to be reassured of the viability of your business. He will want a good estimation of when the business will move into profit, as well as an understanding of your cash flow and what security you can offer in the event of being unable to repay the loan. Don’t forget to take a detailed business plan along with you to any meetings with people whom you hope to persuade to invest in your business or to lend you money. They will want to see it.

Other organisations There are dozens of organisations to help people who are starting their own business. Some are initiatives set up by the government, while others are run by the private sector. The services offered vary from the simplest advice to in-depth counselling on the best way to organise your business. © Copyright 2012 -

You may be able to source training seminars and videos, specialist libraries and information on different markets and industries through them. Contact those organisations in your area which are appropriate to your plans and ask what they have to offer. Your local job centre will be able to give you some guidance as to where you can get information. The local Chamber of Commerce may have a Business Counselling Team which can offer basic advice. The Business Link Network is a major source of support, information and advice for small business start-ups.

Mentors Everyone needs someone to discuss their problems with. Don’t shoulder your worries alone but try to make contacts who are happy to lend you an ear and useful advice.

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Visit HMRC website for up to date information on VAT, Tax and other relevant business information. VAT Your accountant or solicitor will advise you on whether it is necessary to register for VAT and how to go about doing so. If your business turnover exceeds a certain level then it is obligatory, but he/she may suggest that it is in your interest to register even if your income is below that level so that you can reclaim the VAT you pay on goods purchased for use in the business. If you have set up your business as a sole trader, you won’t pay income tax under the PAYE scheme, but you will have to complete a self-assessment form at the end of each tax year. You will then pay tax based on your profits in a series of lump sums. Whether you run your business as a sole trader or as a limited company, the cost of most of the things bought to run the business are deductible from your earnings for tax purposes. As a sole trader you are taxed on the remainder (less also your personal allowances). The cost of things like new equipment and tools are Balance Sheet items, and you can claim deduction by way of Capital Allowances. The position is more complicated if, for example, you use your home phone or your car for both business and personal use. Your accountant will tell you what are legitimate business expenses and what are not. Keep the receipts for things you buy before you actually start trading, these may also be “allowable” expenses.

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Have You Got What It Takes?  
Have You Got What It Takes?  

20 characteristics you will need as a business owner. Find tips and advice on how to get setup your business correctly.