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When you’ve upped and left the comfort of the nine to five schedule in favour of the more turbulent exciting freelancing lifestyle, then it’s doubtful that you want to turn back anytime soon. You’ve left the lengthy commute and the arctic office winters behind in hopes of a new found freedom, and you aren’t ready to give it up just yet.

But how do you know that your business will prosper? 55% of small businesses fail in their first five years, so if you don’t want to waste your time, make sure you’ll be able to go the distance.

Successful entrepreneurs have a number of qualities in common that help them build long-lasting businesses, so why not see if you have what it takes?


If you spend a couple of hours picking what you want from the local takeaway, it’s possible you’ll find the world of business to be a challenge.

Your first year of trading is going to be full of impromptu decisions and pressure to make the right ones. You’ll need to know exactly what’s going on and be able to give your opinion on it. If this doesn’t sound like you, now would be a good time to take a crash course in decision-making.


If you’re struggling to be decisive, you might not have the most confident personality. This could be something worth working on if you want to inspire your employees and peers.

Traders and investors are won’t want to do business with you if you end every sentence with ‘maybe’, ‘perhaps’ or ‘if you think that’s okay’. The best leaders are the ones who are confident in what they do and expect the same from those who they work with.

A floundering boss who isn’t certain about anything isn’t going to inspire creativity and confidence in colleagues and employees. So throwback your shoulders and keep that chin in the air, because a confident entrepreneur is a successful one.

To be Relaxed

While decisive and confident, good leaders should not be anxious. Stay cool, calm and collected in order to get the most out of your business and sail through your first year.

Make a note that relaxed doesn’t equal ‘lazy’. You shouldn’t expect others to pick up the slack when things get touch, and remaining on the ball should be one of your everyday hobbies.

For those entrepreneurs wanting to become more relaxed, why not try mediating? You might have started sniggering, but meditation is a practice that helps plenty of entrepreneurs in their work life, so don’t turn your nose up at it just yet.


Your first year of trading will rely heavily on your marketing and networking skills in order to stay afloat.

Keep your business circles full by making an effort to meet new people and gain their respect. Rather than brashly asking what they can do for you (FYI, never a good conversation starter), use the power of conversation that is at your disposal.

Be interested, animated and chatty to get the best return on networking, and walk away from the event with a handful of business cards and enthusiastic prospects.


The best entrepreneurs are the ones who can adapt to any situation. And while it can take years to master this skill, you should definitely make a start now.

The initial year of trading will be the one that tests how you can adapt to different roles, and which you are best suited for.

Rather than pushing yourself too much and struggling when your company is already up and running, start testing yourself in different roles in time for the business’ opening. This way you’re able to focus on your weaknesses and strengthen, so your company doesn’t have to bear the brunt of it.


Having empathy doesn’t mean you have to break down in tears when a colleague informs you that they’re feeling under the weather. Nor does it mean you can let your employees do whatever they want in the office, lest you become ‘the bad guy’ and have to berate them for not doing the work they are paid for.

You can carry on being the boss, but you can also be a human being at the same time (who knew!) and listen to your employees’ worries. If they aren’t up to scratch on their recent work,  taking an aggressive approach will only cause upset and a lack of communication – both things to avoid if you want a smooth running  business.

Let your employees come to you with problems, so that you can help them sort out a solution. Having some empathy in your soul will also be good for your own well-being.

Creative Thinking

Every business needs a leader who can say “But is there a way we can increase our brand awareness using only £3.50?”

If you’re planning on getting through the first year, without a doubt you’ll need to be able to create new and exciting ways of branding without breaking the bank.

So, if that means using hosting your opening event in your mum’s front room, or creating a budget remix as part of your next marketing scheme, then don’t be afraid to do it (although we advise against the latter. Strongly).

If you’re already a creative thinker then you’re halfway there.


So, you think you’re ready to set up a business? You’ve got all of the above qualities and want to dive head-first into setting up your own company. But here’s the clincher. Are you ready to go the distance?

How do you know this isn’t just a fling; that you won’t get tired after a couple of months and decide it wasn’t leaving the long-term relationship of your nine to five day job?

Before you venture to the next step in your career, consider this: how committed are you? How invested in this business idea will you be when you’re wearing six jumpers and two blankets around the house because you need to save money on heating?

Before you do anything too drastic, make sure you assess your level of commitment. If you decide you’re not quite ready yet, take some time. You’ll still be able to quit your job in a year!

Have you got what it takes to survive your first year of trading? Leave us a comment and tell us why!

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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