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Alison Griffiths
Tue, 02 Oct 2012 18:28:34 GMT | By Alison Griffiths, MSN Money

Do you have what it takes to run a small business?

One marvel of the human race is the inventor. Another is the entrepreneur. These two are kissing cousins with their imagination and innovation. But while the former is often pictured tinkering away penniless and dreamy-eyed, the latter is celebrated in movies, books and television shows like CBC’s “Dragons’ Den.”

Small wonder then, that so many of us aspire to run our own business. Whether your goal is to be self-employed and working solo or the creator of a large corporation, the initial steps are the same.

Perhaps the most important considerations are psychological. Do you have the personality and character not only to be successful in business but also to overcome the many obstacles along the road from start-up to success? Passion, openness, and humility are just as important as the ability to work long hours.

Craig Dowden, the Toronto managing director of SPB Psychology Inc., which consults with businesses across the country about leadership, performance and employees, offers four critical touchstones for small business owners.

1. Love what you do/Do what you love.
Starting a business takes a lot of hard work and the most successful organizations are those that have a strong sense of purpose. Being passionate about what you are doing and why you are doing it will keep you motivated and committed.

2. Seek and accept support.
A critical and yet often overlooked predictor of entrepreneurial success is emotional support received from family and friends. People want to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask.

3. Keep your customers in mind!
Although it is important to have a good product or service, it is equally, if not more, important to connect with your customers. The business should not be about you. It is about your clients. Never forget that.

4. Be open to feedback.
Find people who are critical of your idea/product/service and ask them as many questions as you can. This exercise can help you identify ways to strengthen your product or service and to see your business from a different point of view.

It’s easy to get caught up in the innumerable details of starting and running a small business and forget what might be considered the “softer” side. Margot MacDonald, a Nova Scotia entrepreneur who has run a bed and breakfast, a jewelry store and a commercial janitorial service says a little personal reflection from time to time is invaluable.

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