Why a successful business needs more than just a great idea

biz success

What makes a business successful? The answers to this question are infinite, ranging from market conditions, competition, the product, the marketing mix, price, and the owner and their staff.

There are thousands of books written on all of these elements, but at the heart of it, you need to look in the mirror.

And ask yourself, ‘do I have what it takes to make my business successful?”

Your confidence, doubts, natural preferences and biases become magnified through the business as you begin to work on it.

In my mentoring and coaching work, I work with many clients whose growth is stalled or accelerated by how they are. Do they think naturally of success and strong growth, or naturally of failure and minor incremental growth?

I have worked with business owners on each side of this spectrum, and the results of their business indicate clearly where they sit.

In my first book Corporate Crossovers – when it’s time to leave the office and start your own business’, I conducted a large piece of quantitative research of 300 Corporate Crossovers in the UK and US. I also held in depth interviews with 50.  From these pieces of research and my work with over 1,500 women business owners, I have discovered the seven essential personal qualities of a successful businesswoman.


Top of the list is Passion.

You need to have total and utter belief that what you are doing is worth it. A feeling of being so in love with your idea and the value it will bring to others that you can feel it. This is your strong reason why. Why you are doing this, why it exists and why it’s worth it.

Equally important is to be passionate about running your own business. Passionate about being in charge, making the decisions and operating a business.

Next is determination.

The determination to make their business a success, to persevere when it seems that luck is against them, to do whatever it takes to build the business. Many people may begin businesses but those who succeed are those that keep perservering. It is not giving up at the first, third or even the tenth rejection but carrying on until you get what you want. You know that a ‘yes’ is key to the success of your business and realisation of your passion, so you don’t give up until you get it.


Optimistic Corporate Crossovers reflect on their successes instead of their failures. Set backs, rejection, slower than forecast sales dented them but not for long. They also look for the benefit and opportunities in every situation, thinking of their business goal and how can this situation enhance it. They will see opportunities where others won’t.

Optimism also fuels their activity. The belief that they control their environment and make things happen when they are out there, mean they are active, creating opportunities and momentum.

 Customer Love

Critical to any successful business is an attitude of customer love. Forming great relationships with prospects and then forging stronger relationships as they become customers. Many of the women I spoke to emphasised the importance of developing deep and strong relationships with all customers. They enjoyed long term client relationships and also referrals over time. Taking pride in their work and going the extra mile to ensure that customer was delighted and didn’t start to consider competitors.


Staying close to your customers also means that you are that much more informed about their needs and how the market may be shifting. In many cases the business you start may be different to one that you are running a few years later. The need to be nimble, to be observant is an essential quality.

Strong Work Ethic

When  you are setting up your business you are creating something out of nothing. You are establishing a brand in a competitive market place, creating a presence, building a sales pipeline, getting prospects to know, like and trust you and your offering.

As you become established, you may be working longer hours than you have for some time, and earning far less money than when you worked.

This stage of building the business is like getting a jumbo jet off the ground. You need far more fuel and a leap of faith that you will get that 450,000 kg metal object off the ground, than when you are cruising comfortably at 35,000 ft.


Opportunities are everywhere but you have to be fearless to grab them! Starting and running your own business will push and pull at every part of your comfort zone. You will have to put yourself out there in ways you haven’t imagined. There is no company or brand to lean on anymore, no sales department to bring in the business. It is now completely up to you.


I believe that these qualities can be acquired over time if you really want them. Starting and running your own business is like going on a never ending personal development programme, you will be stretched and tested constantly. Over time you will grow as your business does.


So when the people I meet tell me they don’t have a good idea, I reply “the idea is secondary, the bigger issue is do you have the essential qualities to start and lead a successful business?”

That, as well as a strong, compelling idea are the questions to ask yourself before you start.

Whether you are just starting out, or been running your business for a while, how do you compare with the seven essential qualities? Please leave a comment below, we’d love to know!




  • Sunita Prodan Benolić

    wow, I’ve got most of them. But having been working in corporate since forever, I’m not sure I would be able to discipline myself to get the work done. So work ethics, by which I mean time and productivity management is a big issue for me and I’m not sure I’d be able to oblige. It bugs me a lot, I feel I could fail just because I would procrastinate too much.

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