Father and daughter business team standing behind a cafe counter.
From finding and leading with a specific mission to adopting a growth mindset, there are several key qualities that help lead to business success. — Getty Images/Edwin Tan

The U.S. is currently seeing a boom in startups. The Census Bureau announced that Americans filed a record-breaking 1,396,800 applications to form new businesses in the first nine months of 2021, turning around a decades-long trend of stagnation — and even decline — in new business applications.

How many of these new businesses succeed depends on a variety of factors. But entrepreneurs with a particular set of skills, experience, and mindset may have an advantage when bringing their idea to market. These qualities and attributes help make entrepreneurs successful in the competitive business arena.

[Read more: Personality Traits Successful Entrepreneurs Have in Common]

Take calculated risks

Savvy business owners know how to take calculated risks. Starting a new venture is bound to be fraught with obstacles and challenges. But meeting those challenges with the right approach to risk is key.

In one study from Denmark, researchers looked at firm sales from 2001 to 2016 to understand what young entrepreneurs were doing to start their businesses successfully. Their research showed that young founders who became “serial entrepreneurs” were able to double their sales revenues between their first and second firms.

There were two factors that led to this increase. First, young founders were more inclined to register new firms as LLCs, protecting their personal finances in the event the firm failed. And second, successful young founders were able to keep their first firms open when they went on to found their second, creating a portfolio effect. Ultimately, these young entrepreneurs gambled on their hard work and vision — but not on their personal liability.

Find your purpose

Edward Amoroso, founder and CEO at TAG Cyber, believes that older entrepreneurs like himself found companies because they seek purpose. As Amoroso writes in Fast Company, “Serving others is what successful business is all about—and sometimes it takes a lifetime to figure that out.”

[Read more: 7 Smart Small Business Tips for Older Entrepreneurs]

At any age, entrepreneurs who found a company with a specific vision and mission often have an easier time connecting with consumers. Today’s values-driven consumers want their purchase decisions to have a positive impact on their communities and on the world at large — not just on the business’s bottom line. Passion is infectious; don’t be afraid to share your impact, mission, and inspiration for your business with those around you.

Smart entrepreneurs understand that it’s nearly impossible to do everything well by themselves. They network to get the support they need, whether it’s fundraising, mentorship, or hiring their first employees.

Work smart, not hard

Small business owners often take on many roles themselves: marketer, salesperson, customer service representative, floor manager, HR representative, and finance director, among others. Those who do not optimize their day can easily become overwhelmed.

Smart entrepreneurs understand that it’s nearly impossible to do everything well by themselves. They network to get the support they need, whether it’s fundraising, mentorship, or hiring their first employees. Many business owners also implement platforms, software, and other tools that can automate some of the most time intensive manual tasks, such as shift scheduling or inventory management. “Hustle culture” is often a big part of entrepreneurship, but it has limited usefulness.

Stay humble and adopt a growth mindset

No matter what your age, it’s important to be open to learning new things and receptive to feedback. You may even decide to get a coach or formal mentor to give you feedback as you grow your business.

“After I got a coach, I quadrupled my business in my first full year of full-time entrepreneurship. I was no longer winging it and had a strategy to implement,” Atiya Brown, creator of The Savvy Accountant, told SCORE. “Having advice from someone who looks like me and understands nuances that I'm currently going through and can help me navigate them while growing my business was a game-changer.”

Coaching and mentoring is only useful if you are able to receive advice with an open mind. Even the most experienced business leaders benefit from a growth mindset. Be open to trying new tools, strategies, and technologies.

It’s likely you will face obstacles as your business grows. But, by asking for feedback and keeping a flexible, open mindset, you will be able to guide your business through its challenges.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Where business leaders go to grow

CO— is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Published July 15, 2022