06/08/2015 09:09 am ET Updated Jun 08, 2016

10 Important Drivers of Successful Entrepreneurs

Success in small business can take many paths. However, it's clear there are certain entrepreneurial drivers that are present in most successful businesses. We've read about personality traits, but there is more to small business success than having the passion and confidence to win. There are common processes that influence success, so recognizing and trying even one of these drivers might fight off failure. Remember, if you always do things the same way, you'll always get the same results. So think about trying one or some of these important drivers of successful entrepreneurs and see how your business can benefit.

1. Raise the Bar:
You're not working for a boss anymore, so the only expectations you need to meet are your own. Make sure they're set high enough so that you continue to grow over time. While there's a confidence boost in accomplishing things, if you're not challenging yourself enough, it's a false sense of accomplishment. You must grow yourself to grow your business.

2. Dream Big:
If you can dream it you can achieve it. No entrepreneur ever became a millionaire by limiting her dreams. After all, dreams are free, aren't they? There's nothing wrong with making big plans, even if you can't see right now how you will accomplish them. As they say, aim for the moon. There's nothing wrong with hitting a star if you miss!

3. Take Responsibility:
That means take responsibility for accomplishing your goals and for your own mistakes. You have no one to blame but yourself if you don't reach your mark, so make sure you're taking the necessary actions to move toward your objectives. And when you make a mistake, acknowledge it and learn from it. However, the worst thing you can do is dwell on it, so just keep it moving.

4. Develop Action Habits:
Things don't get done in business by talking about them. Be a person of action. If you say you're going to follow up with someone, do so promptly. Keep lists of projects you need to work on and set deadlines for yourself. Overall, just make sure you're in the habit of taking action where you need to.

5. Visualize Your Success:
This goes with dreaming big: create a vision board of what you want your company to be like in five years. The process can go a long way to making it a reality. Will your company still be just you running it, or will you have employees in a few years or a few locations? How many clients will you have? Seeing this picture can help you plan for it. Put the vision board on your wall so that you can remind yourself why you work so hard.

6. Associate with Winners:
Remember how, as a kid, your mom never wanted you to play with "that kid" down the street? Maybe he had no manners, or she thought he came from the wrong part of town. Who we associate with does say something about ourselves, so when you hang out with successful people, a little of that magic rubs off on you. Look around at your network and see who you want to influence you. Make sure you're not always the smartest person in the room.

7. Give Back:
Becoming your own boss isn't just about your own financial success. It's about giving back to your community, usually through your time, money, or influence...or all three. If you grew up in a community where entrepreneurship wasn't encouraged much, just think of the influence you could spread by actively working to develop new small business programs in your local school, sponsoring a little league team or mentoring students.

8. Embrace Change:
As much as we dislike it, change is a part of entrepreneurship. Not only is technology changing how we market and run our businesses every day, but your industry is changing too. To remain relevant in your space, stay on top of industry trends. You've got to roll with those changes and be ready to adapt at a moment's notice so that your business stays relevant.

9. Have Faith:
Part of loving that process is appreciating the hard times as much as the good ones. It's about having faith that even if things seem to be falling apart in this moment, they'll soon get better. Trouble is temporary. The less you let the negative affect you, the easier it will be to rise above it. Prayer works too. Sometimes just some deep breaths in and out will help you see things more clearly.

10. Love the Process:
That's exactly what running a business is: a process. The trick is that you must figure out what you don't know about running a business. You'll have tedious times that will test your patience, and you'll have others where you're flying high. Enjoy the roller coaster you're on and know that everything is an opportunity to learn.

This article was originally published under the title 10 Leading Factors of Small Business Success at

Melinda F. Emerson, SmallBizLady  is America's #1 small business expert. She is an author, speaker and small business coach whose areas of expertise include small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. She writes a weekly column for the New York Times, publishes a resource blog, which is syndicated through The Huffington Post. She also hosts a weekly talk show on Twitter called #SmallBizChat for small business owners. As a brand, she reaches 1.5 million entrepreneurs a week on the internet. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. Forbes Magazine named Melinda Emerson one of the #1 Woman for Entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. Melinda has been featured on MSNBC, Fox News, NBC Nightly News and in Fortune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Black Enterprise. She is the bestselling author of "Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works," and the ebook How to Become a Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online.