Part 1 What Successful Business Owners Do That Unsuccessful Don't

May 22, 2010


Over the years, as a student of business and then as a advisor, I have noted varying degrees of success.  While there is no one behavior or practice that has resulted in  success or the absence of which has resulted in failure, I believe that successful business owners behave differently.  This article explores a half-dozen of those behaviors. 

Successful business owners:

1.             are totally committed to their business.  Running a business is often inconvenient and demanding.  Successful business owners accept that it takes hard work, long hours and in the beginning, little pay.  The are generally the first to arrive and the last to leave.  They are focused on doing all that is necessary, within the bounds of moral, ethical and legal acceptability, to achieve success in their business. 

2.             accept responsibility for their business.  Successful business owners don’t make excuses when things don’t go according to plan - they don’t play the victim card.  As a President once stated, “the buck stops here.”  But, if there is something that really goes well, they are quick to recognize employees that have performed in a superior manner.

3.             pay their taxes when due - payroll, property, estimated, etc.  There is a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard monies collected from employees and there can be severe criminal and financial penalties for failing to do so.  Successful business owners are compliant with local, state, and federal tax requirements.

4.             demonstrate financial intelligence.  Owners know precisely where their money comes from and are intimately familiar with where the money goes.  They monitor cash flow daily and conduct a weekly review of projected cash demands in order to anticipate short falls or extra funds that could be put to use.  Successful owners pay close attention to the Balance Sheet and the Income Statement.

5.             pay all bills when due.  Just as customers are expected to pay according to agreed upon terms, successful business owners fulfill the commitment to their vendors by paying them on time.  Successful owners monitor expenses and take steps to avoid financial commitments for which they can’t pay.  

6.             don’t expect their employees to field angry calls from vendors.  Successful business owners would not expect an employee to have to apologize and make excuses on their behalf because there are insufficient monies to pay the debts the business has incurred.  Should money be “tight,” successful business owners preempt the angry calls by contacting vendors to arrange a payment schedule.


This article has examined just six behaviors that, in my observation, are characteristic of successful business owners.  Unsuccessful business owners may do some of these, but successful owners consistently perform all these behaviors.  While others may come up with a different list, I believe these are behaviors that would be beneficial to the success of any business.  





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About the Author

Steven D. Olson, CPA, has extensive experience in a wide range of leadership, management and advisory positions. In the role of Chief Financial Officer, he provides executives with timely and accurate financial statements, ongoing cash flow projections, oversight over accounting and finance operations, as well as design and maintenance of the financial reporting structures.

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