Can anyone be a business owner?

Anyone can be a business owner… or can they?  It’s always an interesting discussion to have with business owners and business intenders. Business owners tend to downplay the skills required which can leave others to think, “how hard can it be?”

I believe anyone can be a business owner, but not everyone will be a successful business owner.

To help explain what I mean, let’s change the question to, “can anyone play tennis?” The answer in most cases is yes. Most people can play tennis in some form. Will everyone play tennis like Ash Barty? I think we can safely say no. Does everyone who runs a business run it as well as Richard Branson? No, but not everyone who operates a business wants to be Richard Branson!

As with tennis, there are some fundamentals you need to have in place to play the business game well. With tennis, you need to be able to serve, return serve and keep score. How well you do this depends on your ability, the time you’ve put into practice, and how much you enjoy the game. So too, how successful you are as a business owner depends on a few factors.

Let’s explore some of the things you need and how you can get them if you don’t have them.

The Opportunity

It’s important to have the opportunity to be a business owner. Luckily in Australia, the barriers to operating your own small business are low and opportunity is everywhere.

Maybe you are lucky enough to have something fall into your lap such as a family business. Perhaps you have a million-dollar idea or know exactly what type of business you want to establish. If you don’t know exactly what kind of business you want to start, you can buy an existing business through a business broker or consider purchasing a franchise of one of your favourite businesses.

If owning a bricks and mortar business isn’t your style, you could join the many others who are maximising the opportunities through internet technology to run an online business

If you’re not at a point where you’re comfortable diving into the deep end, starting a business and leaving the comfort of your regular pay cheque behind, maybe consider staying in your job and running a side hustle or selling in online marketplaces. Both can be a great start and who knows where they may lead!

The right disposition

How do you become a tennis champion? Is it through hard work, natural talent or personality? It’s usually a combination of all three. Like becoming a business champion it is never just one factor.

Before you give up on your dream of being a business owner let me just say for the record I don’t think any small business owner has got everything required from business day one. Rather you will develop what you need along the way. Whatever natural talents you come into your business with, a willingness to learn and resilience in the face of setbacks will take you a long way.

Ability to take responsibility

As a business owner, the buck stops with you. You need to be comfortable with that level of responsibility. Being able to make decisions often and then stand by those decisions is important. If you don’t have that initially, it is something you need to develop as you go.

I guess it’s a bit like parenting; you don’t always know what you are doing but after a year or two you start to feel like a professional. You get used to the responsibility and naturally develop a tolerance for the stress it can bring.

Hard work and motivation

How motivated are you to own your own business? You need more reasons to start your business than not to start. This can change at different times in your life. Sometimes people who are working full-time dream of running their own business, however their desire to run their own business is less than their desire to earn a regular income so they never make the leap.

This is understandable. Running a business is not easy. It takes determination and perseverance and while over the long haul you get rewards for your effort, you still have to stay motivated in the lean times.

Often we work hard when we are motivated so it’s important if you are running a business to keep your motivation up by networking with other business owners. Getting a business coach can also be helpful. They can be great for keeping you accountable.

Willingness to make mistakes

Part of the challenge of running a business is that mistakes are made as part of the learning process. Many people don’t feel comfortable making mistakes. Many business owners try and avoid making mistakes by not taking action and sometimes this is the biggest mistake they can make!

Running a business happens in action and doesn’t always follow the plan or strategy you had in your head. One thing you learn as a business owner is not to sweat for too long on any mistakes that have been made. Learn from them yes, try not to repeat them yes, but move on.  Engaging consultants or mentors can help build your confidence in this area. 

The right skill set

Do you have the following skills?

  • organisational skills
  • time management
  • stress management
  • money skills
  • people and networking skills
  • decision making.

These are just some of the skills you need to run a business. If you didn’t tick many on the list don’t worry, you can still be a business owner. A lot of things can be learnt on the job or through business courses, books, coaching, consultants or staff members.

For example, you can learn how to develop great record-keeping systems through your bookkeeper or Virtual Assistant. You get better at making decisions the more practice you have at making them. And by joining a networking group you can improve your networking and people skills.


It’s important to know how to run a business so that you operate legally and have success. There is a misconception that you need to know all this before you start. Sure, learn as much as you can before you start, but collecting business knowledge is an ongoing task for business owners. You never stop learning because there is just so much to learn!

The great news is that it’s much easier now (than BI – Before Internet) to access the information you need. There are loads of workshops (check out Small Business Victoria Workshops for starters), business blogs, podcasts, the Business Victoria website and helpful business books.

One of the biggest challenges is identifying what you don’t know.  A business mentor who has walked the path before can be of great assistance.

So can anyone be a business owner? Yes! If you have a strong desire, are prepared to learn, open to making a few mistakes on the way and surround yourself with people that can help you on your journey, you can be a business owner.

If that sounds like you and you haven’t started your business yet, what’s stopping you?

Ailsa Page

Founder | AP Marketing Works.

Ailsa Page is a marketing sherpa, speaker and founder of AP Marketing Works.

Ailsa is a workshop leader for Small Business Victoria’s Effective Business Networking workshops.