There is a great deal of appeal to owning and running your own business. You don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself- and your customers-, you get to make your own schedule, and there’s the potential to make a good amount of money.

According to one Forbes study nearly 22 million registered companies in the U.S. are classified as self-employed, small businesses. That translates to almost 120 million individuals, or just over 50% of the working population, who get their paycheck from a small business.

Further, it’s estimated that more than 500,000 new businesses get started each month. However, with more employer businesses shutting down than start up, and half lasting less than 5 years the decision to create a company of your own shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The past 4 decades has taught me some very tangible lessons in owning and running a successful business. Here are my top four skills one must employ as a business owner:

1)       Goal Setting. As tact that is important both from an individual and also a business standpoint, setting achievable goals is really key.  Entrepreneurs can get caught up in the task of running the company and lose sight of where they want the company to go.  It is important that the owner have reasonable short term and long term goals that keep them focused on what tasks are really important from an ownership standpoint.  Similarly, the entrepreneur needs to have a clear cut plan for where they want their career to go.  Having that goal in place and keeping a realistic target in mind can help the owner keep focus.

We also recommend this informative article Inc. wrote on ‘How to Set Business Goals’.

2)      People Skills.  I frequently hear owners talk about the type of business that they are in.  In reality, it all boils down to the fact that all business owners are in the “relationship” business.  Successful entrepreneurs all need to possess (or develop) people skills in order to establish and maintain healthy relationships with their staff, customers, and suppliers.  It is interesting, that of all the skill sets business owners can have, relationship skills are usually the most overlooked, but arguable the most important.  People skills, that is, the ability to foster relationships, is one of the hardest skill sets to develop.

Small business advocate also wrote this great piece on interpersonal skills.

3)      Business Ethics.  It has often been said, that owning a business is a license to steal.  Many business owners have the ability to expand on the “grey” area in working with clients and others.  A successful entrepreneur stays successful in maintaining long term relationships which are only kept if the owner acts ethical in all areas of his ownership tenure.

Read more at the online magazine at Business-ethics.com

4)      Money Management. At times this proves to be a hard discipline for many business owners.  If the “green” is there, many business owners think that the money in the bank account or the cash register belongs to them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Staff, suppliers and even customers on sales discounts have to be paid first before the owner can take his or her “cut”.  The temptation of money without employing the necessary discipline of good money management is the downfall of many entrepreneurs.

For more, check out these tools from Money Management International.

Looking for more insightful tips as you get ready to launch your own business? Take a look at these five books courtesy of Entrepreneur.com