The key traits of successful sole traders

One of the best ways to learn something well is to learn it from someone who is already doing it extremely well. Study them, whether from afar or in person, if possible, and absorb all the learnings you can about what makes them successful.

When it comes to sole traders, a great way to do just that is by seeking out a business mentor and gleaning their best sole proprietor tips from them. Your mentor could be a leading small business owner in your industry, a relative or friend who has enjoyed small business success in their own right, or a contact you’ve met at a business networking event or industry conference.

Either way, you should be able to gain an understanding of the character of a sole trader and pick up some insights around what makes a good sole trader.

If you can’t find an acquaintance with those virtues in the circles you move in, then the following four traits may help you on your way to becoming a successful sole trader in your own right.

1. Be as flexible as possible

When you’re a sole trader you will inevitably wear many, many hats and no longer have one simple and neatly defined role. You will need to be all things to all people when it comes to running your business, and this is particularly true over the first few years of running your sole trader business. Unlike employees who often have more or less set routines and duties from one work day to the next, self-employed individuals don’t usually enjoy day to day regular routines.

This means that you need to be as flexible as humanly possible, because whether things in your business are going swimmingly or otherwise, it will be highly likely that you yourself will be the one who has to deal with whatever issues arises while on the job. And beyond that, those around you, whether staff, clients, or suppliers, will be looking to you to solve any and all problems.

2. Always be up to the challenge

When are you are a self-employed individual, you have sole responsibility for your sole trader business. An important sole proprietor tip to remember is that on every working day it will be up to you to take charge, set the direction, establish the work ethic and the objectives for the day, and get after it with gusto.

You will need to lead by example with a rational, level-headed approach to all tasks and challenges, take charge, and be a consummate practical problem solver. Creating a action plan and setting goals are your domain and yours alone, which can be daunting if you’re used to being an employee.

No one is going to schedule appointments for you or point out what needs to be done in order to make a profit. For many people who try to become self-employed and start businesses after having a long-term full-time job, self-motivation can be the hardest adjustment to make.

3. Sell, sell, sell

When compiling a list of what makes good sole trader, confidence in selling is near the very top of the list. Successful sole traders, by necessity, are also successful and doggedly determined salespeople. This is because there simply isn’t any other option.

If you’ve committed to running your own sole trader business, sooner or later (more likely sooner) you will need to get not just comfortable, but confident, in closing sales on your own. It may be a modest order from a new client, or pallets-worth of product destined for the shelves of a major retailer or an industrial warehouse.

You may have sales staff on hand, but as the owner of a sole trader business, you will likely be personally leading sales negotiations with your biggest clients.

4. Take calculated risks

As a sole trader, you will often be called upon to take calculated risks in your business, with no guarantee that things will go your way. So sooner or later you will need to figure out how to get comfortable with taking risks.

For example, you can’t be 100 per cent sure that there will be a healthy market for the products or services you sell in a year’s time. You may sooner or later employ a staff member who doesn’t live up to your expectations and you need to let them go. Your customers may not pay their invoices on time, or your largest, longest-standing client may take their business elsewhere.

These can all be realistic risks for any business, but they are risks that you will need to get comfortable with to succeed as a sole trader.

While you’re managing your sole trader business, let BizCover lend a hand by simplifying your sole trader insurance*. Take a look at our dedicated sole trader insurance page, or give us a call 1300 920 864 to see how we can help protect your sole trading business.

*This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. © 2022 BizCover Pty Limited, all rights reserved. ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769

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