Running a small business requires more than guts and ingenuity. Small business owners must be leaders. They lead customers, employees, their families, and more towards their individual goals. With that in mind, there are certain qualities small business owners should cultivate and develop if they intend to find success. 1. Ability to listen While many people claim to be good listeners, few actually are. Many people have a tendency to listen politely, all the while waiting to interject their opinion. For a small business owner, the ability to listen is invaluable; not only do they need to listen to input from employees, but also from customers. A customer's opinion can be a great resource for pinpointing problems within the company and identifying potential areas for improvement. In addition to listening to advice and input given from other sources, small business owners should give credit where it's due if they choose to implement new ideas. Not only does this display humility, but it encourages further input from employees and customers. 2. Be willing to delegate For many small business owners, the brunt of the work falls on their own shoulders. Entrepreneurs have a tendency to try to do everything themselves; after all, they started their own companies because they didn't want to work for anyone else. However, there are a limited number of hours in the day and a nearly unlimited amount of work to be done. Without a willingness to delegate work, a small business owner will never reach their full potential. Business owners must examine themselves and identify what their strengths and weaknesses are. If a certain task can be completed more quickly by passing it on to someone else, then pride should not get in the way. There will always be some jobs that can be best performed by the business owner, but miscellaneous tasks should be passed over in favor of the bigger picture. By utilizing each team member's strengths and focusing on using them, a business owner can see massive growth much more quickly than they may see otherwise. 3. Keep a forward-thinking perspective Business owners should always have a plan. Entrepreneurs need to ask themselves where they want their businesses to be in three years, in five years, and in ten years. Not only can visualizing this increase motivation, but it helps with planning and focus. Entrepreneurs with a plan are more likely to succeed than those that are trying to fly by the seat of their pants. While a business plan is often frowned on, having a strategic plan for moving a business forward is absolutely necessary. Far too often complacency can grow when times are easy, but it's during periods of success and growth that small business owners should buckle down and push forward even more. These periods allow for massive leaps forward. During the periods of struggle, having a bit of downtime to focus on solving whatever problems the business faces can help to alleviate some of the stress. Very few small business owners have strategic planning skills. By cultivating these and learning how to best use them, an entrepreneur can gain a strong advantage over the competition. 4. Persistence A single word says it all. Persistence is absolutely one of the most powerful leadership qualities entrepreneurs should possess; because they serve as the head of the company, employees will look to the business owner when success seems impossible. When they see their leader striding forward despite the odds, they'll take solace. In many cases, business is much like war, and the business owner is like a general leading the troops. Countless stories exist of inventors, tinkerers, and entrepreneurs who kept trying despite repeated failures. It's this stubborn refusal to give up in the face of adversity that makes them a success. The creator of Paypal infamously says, "My first four companies failed. My fifth was Paypal." That shows exactly how powerful persistence can be; if a business owner never gives up, they will see the success they're after. 5. Passion On top of persistence, passion is also necessary. The most successful companies were not started out of a desire to pad wallets and line pockets; they began with a single spark of passion for an idea. When business owners set out to make a difference in their worlds, they're far more likely to succeed than someone who creates a business simply for the sake of making money. The reason why is simple. Passion will keep someone motivated to work towards their goal when all else fails. When the odds seem insurmountable, passion can bolster morale and fuel persistence in a way that little else can. And because passion is contagious, it can be spread to employees. When an employee becomes someone just as devoted and invested in making a business succeed as the business owner is, little can stand in their way. These five leadership qualities can make all the difference between success and failure. Even if a business owner doesn't currently possess them, these are not inborn talents; they can all be learned and grown.