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The Right Characteristics to Build Your WC Empire


I’ve met a lot of people over the years who tell me they would like to start their own business and ask me for advice.  The worst part of these conversations is usually the part where I begin explaining that just being good at something, whether it’s welding, painting, programming, baking, or candlestick making isn’t enough to grow a successful business.  I have painfully watched some forge ahead with plans to become an entrepreneur in spite of not possessing the basic qualities of leadership that a person needs to be successful in business.


I say painfully because often they wind up crashed against the unforgiving rocks of business reality.  In spite of what Hollywood thinks makes a great movie, just believing in yourself and the power of your dreams is not enough to be successful.  Yes, I saw Rocky and Rudy, and yes, both movies inspired me, but to survive in the jungle of the start-up company, you need certain character traits and yes, even some skills.  So if you lay in bed at night with visions of getting up early in the morning, drinking raw eggs from a dirty glass, and doing one handed push-ups before heading out with your squeegee to conquer the business world, here are some things to think about.


Before you begin to build that window cleaning empire you need to make sure you possess a few of the right personal character qualities.  The following list is based on my own personal observations and obviously is limited in scope and non-scientific, but these are a few of the character traits that I have seen in the successful entrepreneurs that I have met throughout my life.


1. You love a good challenge.


Business leaders like doing hard things. Too many times over the years I have witnessed people with a strong desire to start a business because they hated “working for the man,” but who were just plain lazy.  Leaders are those people who love a good challenge because it is, well, a good challenge.  They thrive on testing themselves and getting out of their comfort zone, knowing that with each accomplishment they grow better.  True leaders dream big and don’t mind making the sacrifice to accomplish something that most people would consider too much work.  If you are the kind of person who has big goals and doesn’t mind hard work, you have the makings of a good window cleaning business owner.  If you are not willing to give up your nights and weekends or you usually choose to sit in front of the TV or surf the internet instead of investing in yourself by reading good leadership or business books, you probably need to realize that “working for the man” also has some benefits.


2. You thrive on uncertainty


Business leaders don’t need a security blanket, plain and simple.  They prefer the thrill of leaving the cave every day, making the kill and dragging it home.  Doing great things means that you might win big but it also means that you might lose big.  People who are timid about going down the path of the unknown or those who need every risk eliminated before they begin, are seldom successful in business.  Leaders thrive on risk, not foolish risk like winding your sport bike up to 180 mph on a busy California freeway, but rather the kind of risk that could yield great results if successful, but might also cause you to come up short for your mortgage next month, if you are not.  I’ve met many people who wanted to be self-employed but didn’t want the uncertainty that comes with stepping out of their comfort zone, looking foolish, or failing at something.  If you need a high sense of job security probably a solid 9 to 5 is a better fit for you.


3. You solve your own problems


Leaders don’t sit around waiting for someone to come along and fix things for them.  That’s exactly what leadership is about, being out front as point man, getting shot at.  The people who want to be window cleaning business owners but always have to look to someone else to hold their hand and walk them through the steps are only kidding themselves.  To be a good leader you have to have some “skin in the game.”  Look around next time you are at a meeting and see who is sitting on the edge of their seat taking notes and asking questions, those are probably the leaders.  Leaders do their own heavy lifting instead of sitting around hoping someone will come along and carry the load for them.  This is not to say that leaders should adopt the “lone wolf” mentality because we all need to reach out to others for help from time to time, but if you have difficulty solving your own problems being in business for yourself is not for you.


4. You can handle criticism


Business owners cannot be insecure people.  They do not need the continuous praise of others to stay motivated.  Owning a business brings with it the fact that others will be critical of your decisions, direction, appearance, tastes, speech, ideas, and just about anything else you can think of.  Good leaders listen to the critics as a way of learning and getting better, but don’t let critics rule their thought process.  As a business owner you are going to make mistakes and get hammered for it, but good leaders consider the source when criticism comes, and handle it in an objective way.  On the other hand, non-leaders allow an overwhelming need to be liked dictate their direction.  If you get defensive and have a hard time when someone questions you or your decisions, starting your own company is probably not for you.


This is not a comprehensive list by far but hopefully a good start.  The best advice I can give someone about starting your own business is this:  It’s far better to realize early that you are not cut out for entrepreneurship and begin developing the skills and character that you need to be successful, than it is to get yourself in over your head.  I’m not trying to be a wet blanket or pull down your dreams, but outside of Hollywood lies this place called “reality,” and if you have what it takes to make it in the real world, get out there and go for it!



By Steve Stevens

Sonlight Window Cleaning

Murray, Kentucky



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