9 Traits Of A Great Small Business

Note: This article was originally published on OPEN Forum.

What constitutes a great small business? We all know what a good small business looks like – it makes a tidy profit, is run efficiently, and grows slowly but surely, right? You might quibble around the edges of that definition, but that is the essence of it.

But a great small business, what is that? I submit that great small businesses share most or all of these traits.

Click here to see nine traits of a great small business >

They are about more than money

The first thing you may notice about this list is that it will have very little to do with money. Is money great? Of course. But the best small businesses view profit as element of a bigger whole; a part of the sum.

The best small businesses are in business for reasons other than profit alone. These businesses want to make a difference, add value. They serve their customers, employees, and shareholders. There is an undercurrent, dare I say, of altruism in what they do.

They are fun

And so it is that being a great place to work is also critical to being considered a great business. Great small businesses foster a sense of teamwork. They value employees as individuals. There is a sense of fun, joy and creativity at play. People like working there.

Are there bad days and tough times? You bet. But the good days and happy people trump them.

They are creative

We have all been to the rote business where by the book is de rigueur: 'You pay for that and I give you this. Don't expect more because I won't give more.' What a bore. What a waste. What a lost opportunity.

Great businesses tap into the creativity of their staff. People are allowed to try out new ideas and be individuals. New programs, policies, ideas, and campaigns are tried. Some work, some don't. They adapt and move on.

They are led by a charismatic entrepreneur

Groups need leaders, and any time you see a successful small business you can bet that there is a driven entrepreneur (or entrepreneurs) at the helm -- someone who can enroll people behind a vision, who understands business, someone people like; the rising tide that lifts all boats.

They have a great team

That special entrepreneur typically has a knack for surrounding herself with great people. These folks are given the leeway to do what they do best, they buy into the vision, they are committed to the goal, and they are willing to work hard and work together to get there.

They experiment and innovate

Recently, my wife asked me to pick up some food for the family on the way home from work. So before I left the office I went online and looked for the restaurant's website so I could see their menu.

They had no website.

Are you kidding me? Aside from being business malpractice, the greater concern is that businesses that are not keeping up with the times are in fact falling behind because of the increased pace of technological change. Today you simply must tweet, update, learn, grow, change, and adapt.

The best small businesses do what they do well, but they don't stop looking for ways to do things better.

They risk failure

They work hard and play hard

The only way you get be the best at something is by working hard at it. By failing and learning. By putting in the hours. No, it is not easy, but as I tell my daughters everything is hard before it is easy. Entrepreneurs usually push themselves hard, and push those around them hard too. But they do so in search of that greater good, that bigger goal. And the staff that gets it and comes along for the ride is rewarded appropriately.

They strive to be the best

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