What does it take to be a business owner

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Running a business requires many characteristics, all of which will help you towards your goals. As a business owner, whether you're just starting out or building and growing your company, there are certain things that you have to do to enable the business to be successful.

Bear in mind that it's not all about money, though naturally it's a given that you're in business to make as much as you can. It's also about your ideas, your planning, and how well you can communicate with your clients and customers. Remember also that if you don't enjoy what you're doing, then there's a good chance that your business will not be a success. If your heart isn't really in it, then how can you enthuse others, including employees and those to whom you want to sell?

Take your business seriously

You need to show everyone involved, from worker to buyer, from banker to accountant, that you are serious about what you are doing. It can be easy to take your eye off the ball or get side-tracked and unmotivated, but if you want to succeed, you have to work hard all the time and keep focused. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't take a holiday now and then when you can (and you should, otherwise beware of burning out), but you do need to set up structures that will safeguard the running of the business in all circumstances.

Plan ahead

It's great when you have a business idea that you think is going to work really well, but to be effective, you have to spend time planning. You don't have to have a degree in business studies, though it can be very helpful, but you do need to spend time on your strategic planning.

As a business owner, the planning process is an essential part of your ongoing operations, especially when dealing with the financial aspects of the company, such as invoicing, accounting, capital and revenue spending, PAYE and VAT (if you are registered for this tax). Put a regular budgeting procedure in place and monitor it frequently to see what works and what doesn't, giving you an early opportunity to spot if anything is going wrong.

Successful business owners have a head for figures, and if this is not an initial main skill of yours, there are plenty of courses that you can take to get you right up to speed. Then you can continue to grow your business to work towards the heights of the likes of shipping magnate Evangelos Marinakis. Marinakis started out in his family shipping firm in Greece and developed what was a relatively small undertaking in the world of shipowners into a major force in world shipping. As well as his maritime activities, he is also closely involved in the world of professional football in Greece and the UK.

Effective marketing

There's not much point in having a brilliant product or service unless people know about it. Successful business owners are always beating the drum for their organisation to get the word out and maintain a profile in the sector or sectors in which they operate. Your marketing plan should be based on targeted research so that you know which individuals and other businesses you want to reach.

An essential part of this in today's hi-tech world is to have a good website to advertise what you do, how people can contact you, and providing information that is easy to access and easy to read. If you're not a tech genius, then bring in someone who is and can set up and maintain your website. There are many web designers out there who will help you fashion something that suits your business. Be prepared to put a fair amount of your time into the process to start with so that you get it right, especially if you are going to be selling goods online.

Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to get your messages out, to keep customers informed about what's happening, and when you have new products or services available. Social media is a great tool for driving traffic to your website and increasing your marketing reach.

Horses for courses

When building your business team, bear in mind that some people are better at certain things than others, so examine strengths and weaknesses and make your personnel choices based on information gained. This is the way towards ensuring that your business has everything that it needs to grow into a large and successful organisation.