Paper family

The journey of modern day entrepreneurs is a fascinating one. In November last year, Xero spoke to more than 2,000 small businesses in the UK and the US to learn about success and find out what keeps entrepreneurs going. The full findings were used to develop Xero’s Make or Break report and our discussions revealed a number of common traits and experiences separating successful small businesses from those that fail. One of the first interesting findings was that successful entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t work around the clock, as is the common perception.

The entrepreneurs that were more successful have a strong belief in the value of personal time and a great sense of work / life balance. They make time for loved ones in the evenings and at weekends. This rings true. One of the main reasons for leaving a corporate job to set up on your own is to have a better quality of life and follow a dream.

It’s fair to say that entrepreneurs will have a tough time in the first few months setting up a new business and will face many tough challenges, mountainous workloads and sleepless nights. That is why family and friends play such an important support role and help by relieving the stress and pressures with fun times, love and help when it’s needed. No one can run on empty for long.

The common reason for setting up alone is simply to be your own boss and this is the dream of many a disillusioned corporate worker with a difficult manager! Setting up your own things means you work at your pace and set your own deadlines. You no longer need to ask for permission to take a holiday or to leave early for a personal appointment. Being your own boss makes your time your own and this affords you with the choice of what to do with it.

Also, if you run your own business you get to do what you’re interested in and many of the most successful entrepreneurs turn a hobby into a business. This of course makes life more fulfilling which is why successful entrepreneurs in general have a positive mindset. They are literally living the dream.

Our Make or Break? report also found that the most successful entrepreneurs don’t pretend to have all the answers - They enlist the support of a large community: family, advisors and mentors, an accountant and a financial advisor. Having a good collaborative network with advisors and mentors to keep you on the right path is regarded as vital.

There’s no doubt that most entrepreneurs are extremely busy most of the time. The most successful ones put their time to good use and have figured out how to use technology and productivity tools to do the more mundane administrative tasks such as managing the business and the finances. Businesses that automate with cloud-based accountancy software for example save hours of time and lean more towards success than those that don’t. Investing in technology for increased productivity in finance, marketing and customer service is a no brainer.

Another common trait shared by the most successful entrepreneurs is that they feel fulfilled. They may have to sacrifice many things, such as swapping going out with friends for networking occasionally but the reward is happiness and the feeling of being fully in control.

So maybe 2016 will be the year many people take the leap of faith and do it. You’ll need the support of family and friends to be your cheerleaders, fans, supporters, sounding boards and stress relievers and if you succeed, you are well on your way to happiness and good fortune with the added bonus of having your loved ones all around you.

By Gary Turner, Managing Director at Xero