Nine secrets of successful business owners

Nigel Botterill is the founder of several successful enterprises including the Entrepreneur’s Circle and thebestof. He looks at the common characteristics shared by the bosses, founders and board members of thriving UK businesses.

They focus on responsibility and learning, not blaming and whingeing: Super successful business owners never blame anyone else for their failures. Modern society and large parts of the media encourage us to play the victim. Millionaire business owners do not play the blame game. They learn from their mistakes and they learn from other people’s mistakes as well.

They are marketing focused: Successful business owners understand the importance of getting out there, building lists and selling, and they do it first thing every morning! Few people know that Bill Gates has a marketing degree from Harvard and everyone in the senior management team at Microsoft has a marketing background. This is not coincidence, or luck, it’s deliberate.

They trust their instincts:There are times in business when people may tell you that you are crazy for making certain decisions, that it won’t work, meaning that you are left in isolation when attempting to pursue your aim. Accomplished business owners have a special skill that enables them to stick with their instincts and carry on through hard times. To be successful you have to trust yourself, believe in your ideas and most importantly – follow your gut instinct!

They listen to the right people: Everyone has an opinion about everything these days but not all views and opinions are equal. Successful business owners listen to advice and make sure it is coming from the right people and the right sources: people who are qualified and have experience in their particular field.

They have a single focus: What I have discovered is that Super Succesful business owners have a business and they focus on that one core business. They make things happen quickly because they focus on single goals, all their efforts leading to accomplishing the main goal. I see lots of people who operate what I call, ‘the bankruptcy model.’ They have lots of scattered businesses, with various unrelated businesses tacked on, pulling them in too many directions. I know about this from firsthand experience because I did it myself when I first started out. It’s easy to think that being scattered makes you entrepreneurial and with everything spread you are minimising the risk. The reality is that you are compromising on everything.

They understand the importance of learning: To be super successful you have to want to learn. I met Duncan Bannatyne last year and was surprised to hear just how many business books he reads. Millionaire business owners attend seminars and courses, listen to CDs and seek out experts. If you want to be in any super-succesful club, then you had better make sure you are learning!

They are not afraid to make mistakes and receive feedback:

I make mistakes all the time. I try to learn from them but what I’ve learned is that if you stop… you lose. People fail to get things done and delivered because they are perfectionists and perfection is vastly overrated in business. An old friend of mine says, ‘You don’t have to get it right, you just have to get it going.’ It’s a great mantra, and yes, he is a multi-millionaire. Feedback is a great way to learn, because it’s usually honest! When people share their opinions, if you have the right approach, and can avoid becoming defensive, you can learn a great deal. It’s about listening, and interpreting in the right way.

They build a great team: Super Succesful entrepreneurs buildteams. My business would not be a fraction of what it currently is without my team, and that includes key partners and suppliers. The bottom line is that being succesful is a team sport and you must have the right people around you.

They take quick decisive action:Successful business owners are very action orientated. When they see an opportunity, they jump on it decisively. In my analysis, one of the major causes of failure is lack of action, which can be traced back to taking too long to make decisions. The world moves fast, and if you take longer than a day or two to ponder and deliberate, you are not going to get anywhere near the Super Succesful Club!

Read more of Botterill’s business insight at His book, Botty’s Rules, is published by Vermilion and is out now.

August 2011