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5 traits of a successful entrepreneur.

When it comes to determining the key traits for entrepreneurial success, who better to ask than the person behind the best startup of the year? In 2015, that person would be Arjun Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of KAI Innovations, who was recently honoured with an AIR MILES®† For Business Small Business Achievement Award sponsored by BMO. And no wonder: His two-year-old business is one of the fastest growing healthcare information technology companies in the country.

Unlike the majority of full-service electronic medical record providers, which target large healthcare organizations, KAI focuses on helping smaller clinics in Ontario convert from paper to a digital environment. Kumar explains: “We are one of the only companies offering a turnkey solution to clinics with one-to-ten physicians, and we basically take care of everything.”

The result of being “a small fish in a big pond,” as he describes it? Since launching in 2013 with a $50,000 grant, the Whitby, Ontario-based startup is now pulling in million-dollar revenues.

Your Financial Life recently sat down with Kumar to get his perspective on what it takes for a small business owner to make it in today’s economy. The following five qualities are at the top of his list:

  1. Dedication: If you’re thinking of becoming a small business owner because you want a 9-to-5 job, you might want to reconsider. According to Kumar, it’s a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year gig, especially in a field with no downtime (like healthcare) — and especially when first starting out. “You have to be able to commit that time and have nothing else in your life until you get on your feet,” he says.
  1. Passion: But all that effort is worth it when you love what you do. Which brings us to the second point: You can’t have dedication without passion, which will help keep you motivated every day. “I feel happier on Monday morning than I do on Saturday morning,” he adds, “I find that passion makes a big difference.”
  1. Level-headedness: When you own a business, it’s your baby, which could make it difficult to control your emotions while facing obstacles. But cooler heads must prevail, maintains Kumar, because anger or frustration can lead to detrimental decisions. It’s also a good idea to avoid going overboard when things go well, he says: “The best piece of advice I received from many of my mentors is that if I don’t let my highs get too high, my lows won’t get too low.”
  1. Leadership: As a startup, it could be difficult to find “Google-level quality employees.” Instead, you often resort to hiring people who are just beginning to build their careers. Nonetheless, a great leader can transform employees into assets, by assessing their skillset and determining their strengths. Kumar shares more thoughts on leadership in this video.
  1. Hustle: As an entrepreneur, you have to go above-and-beyond — and that might mean pounding the pavement and knocking on doors, particularly in the early days. “You have to be able to do anything your company needs,” says Kumar. “You can’t consider anything below you.”

Want more advice from the best startup in Canada? Watch this video.

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