The truth about successful entrepreneurs

According to Start-up Britain, there have been 224,657 businesses created this year.

It’s never been easier to set up a business, and younger generations are taking advantage of this. Analysis by Simply Business found that the fastest growing age groups for small business owners were 18-24 and 25-34.

“We’re seeing this generational shift where entrepreneurship and becoming self-employed is now a viable career alternative,” says Gary Turner, managing director of Xero UK. It was really hard to set up a business 20 years ago. Now it’s a lifestyle choice.”

According to a study by Xero, these new entrepreneurs don’t always display the values and traits that we expect business owners to have. Here are some of the traits that modern business owners share:

1. They don’t work all hours

While the stereotype of an entrepreneur is someone that is driven to work all hours in pursuit of success, modern small business owners actually value their free time and make sure they keep their evenings free – 58% said that spending time with family every night is crucial to ensure their effectiveness as a business owner. Over half also said that it was important to keep weekends work free.

However, just 28% said they would switch off their phones and laptops during downtime, so most are not completely disconnected from their businesses when putting the kids to bed.

“What’s the point of success if you’re not enjoying it?” says Dr Robert Holden of the Happiness Project. “Those that step away, switch off and make time for the people they love are most likely to be successful.”

2. They ask for help

A third of successful entrepreneurs say they have called upon a mentor, an online group or other entrepreneurs to help them get their business established.

“Your support network doesn’t need to be exclusively focused on the industry you operate in. I’ve seen many entrepreneurs gather together informal ‘boards’ with participants drawn from all walks of life,” says Porter Gale, author of Your Network is your net worth.

3. Technology and marketing are their biggest spends

Half of successful business owners surveyed said that they spent money on advertising, social media and PR, while 58% have invested in software to help improve the way they run their business

4. They maintain a healthy bottom line

Financial issues such as cashflow or access to capital was the biggest reason for businesses failing– 65% of failed entrepreneurs said financial mismanagement was the main reason why their companies failed. “In terms of survival rates, the businesses that are investing in software to manage their finances and are looking to run themselves properly are much more likely to survive,” says Gary Turner.

5. They are more likely to sell services

Almost two-thirds of successful business owners surveyed sold services over products. On the flip side, 41% of failed companies sold products, and only 19% of product-based companies considered them successful.

Mark Rowland is a journalist and former editor of Accounting Technician and 20 magazine.

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