There simply is no substitute. You may not be the
smartest person in the room - and usually you
won’t be. But a person of average intellect who out
hustles a person with above average intelligence
will win almost every time! When others are
relaxing or sleeping what are you doing?
Identify Your Calling
Focus on your gift. Many of us spend time in jobs
or on business ideas that may be interesting or
lucrative, but that have absolutely nothing to do
with what we were placed on this earth to do.
What are you good at? What is it that you can do in
your sleep that others have to work hard at?
For some of us it can be difficult and take a lot of
time to really identify our gifts, but the effort is
worth it; and moving forward without being clear
about your giftedness can be futile.
Establish a Goal
And make it a Big Hairy Audacious Goal – a
BHAG… A clear, compelling, aggressive goal with
a clear finish line…. a goal that your friends don’t
think you can achieve, but that you know can be
accomplished under the right circumstances.
Your BHAG gives
you something to
work towards and
an opportunity to
prove the doubters
Tell people what you are doing. Explain it to them
and try to get them excited about it. If you say it
you’ll start to believe it - they will too; and the
combination will make your vision come true.
Write a Business Plan
Whether your business is just getting started or is
50 years old, you need a thorough plan.
Writing this plan will force you to think through all
of the aspects of your business, from office space to
technology, and from marketing strategy to
financial plans. The business plan will help you see
more clearly what it will take to succeed, it will help
you identify your businesses strengths, and it may
even convince you that your concept is not such a
good idea after all – which is better to realize
sooner rather than later.
Many are tempted to skip this step because it’s just
too much… Wait, see #1 above.
Identify Your Weakness
Knowing your weaknesses is as important as
knowing your strengths. Sometimes we don’t
like to face our imperfections, but we all have them.
A big enough blind spot can cripple an otherwise
viable idea or business, but if you know where it is
it will enable you to go and…
Many of us don’t like to ask for help, but at some
point or another, we all need it. If you are able to tell
someone specifically what type of help you need and
why, you will be surprised at their willingness to
No one gets anything significant accomplished
on their own, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Choose Good Partners
Starting or building a business is
not only hard work, but it can
also be very lonely.
partner can make the journey
more enjoyable and help you
keep your sanity, while bringing
another point of view to the
Just like any relationship though,
a good partner is hard to find.
Look for partners with whom you
share a common vision and moral
or ethical foundation, but who
also offer complementary skill
sets that can create a natural
division of labor. This match may
not occur on the first try, but can
make all the difference between a
successful or a failed venture.
Get the Support of Your
A simple, but often overlooked notion.
spouse or companion will often see things in ways
that you don’t, or that you miss entirely. Their
perspective can help you be more sensitive to your
environment, and they can also provide a hard
check on your approach or assumptions when
needed. Additionally, a supportive spouse can
make the ups and downs of entrepreneurship
much more bearable while a companion who is not
fully on board can make it very difficult to enjoy
Insist on Excellence
All that you have is your reputation.
You can build a good one by making certain that
your every presentation is the best one that it can
be – the math is right, the images are crisp and the
spelling is correct.
Vendors, employees and
contractors contribute to your presentation and
reputation. Inspect what you expect and insist on
the best from anyone that represents you.
Look the Part
The first impression that
people have of you is your
appearance - so look like
a leader in your field. Of
course, someone building a
business in the culinary
arts will dress differently
but the first element of
credibility is what you look
You don’t have to
shop at Neiman Marcus to
look great, but rundown
shoes, a wrinkled shirt or
dirty fingernails is never
on purpose and look the
Hang Out With People Who
Are Where You Want to Be
Wealthy people spend time with wealthy people,
barbers socialize with barbers, and entrepreneurs
can learn a lot from other entrepreneurs. So, if
you are starting or building a business, find a
group of people who are a few steps ahead of you,
look for mentors and make a few friends, and
begin to hang out with that group.
People who are where you want to be can share
insight with you, inspire you and prepare you for
the opportunities and challenges that can come
with achieving your goal.
Know Your Stuff
Abraham Lincoln said that it is “better to remain
silent and be thought a fool, that to speak out
and remove all doubt.” But better yet, how
about speaking with authority, but only when you
know what you are talking about.
Cultivate an area of expertise with in your
professional discipline and become known in your
social and professional circle as the expert on the
subject. Be sure to read industry magazines and
periodicals to remain up to speed on the latest
trends in your industry and develop your own
opinions and perspectives on how those issues will
shape your business and market.
Market Your Business
Find the most effective ways to let the world
know that your business is there.
business cards printed and, unless you are in the
most creative of sectors, keep them simple.
Depending upon what business you are in, you
may need to consider television, print or radio
advertising. These days you will almost always
want a well done website; and get comfortable
with one or two social networking platforms that
will allow you to cultivate your brand, get to know
your customers and expand your base of contacts.
Phone Calls and Email
People won’t call you unless you call them first;
and people won’t send you emails unless you send
them one first. So, make it a point to call a series
of contacts each month to keep the professional
Send a periodic email newsletter to your database
and send emails to a group of contacts to ask
questions or, from time to time, share a relevant
article that you read. This lets contacts know that
you are thinking of them, and encourages them to
think of you.
This can be especially effective on your most
discouraging of days – when you are least in the
mood to do it.
Reestablishing connections on
those lonely entrepreneurial days can provide new
thinking, renewed energy and open doors to new
If you intend to build your business for the longterm, then you will be more interested in
relationships than transactions.
Transactions are short term, not strategic, and
may be manipulated so that one party benefits
more than the other.
If you are transaction
focused you don’t look forward to the next
interaction, you are not focused on customer
satisfaction and you want to get as much as
possible today, with little concern for tomorrow.
Relationships are long-term and emphasize mutual
benefit, fairness and exceeding expectations.
Relationships encourage customers to refer others
to you and to stick with you when times are tough.
Relationships ensure the longevity and success of
Follow Up! Follow Up! Follow Up! Do what you
say you are going to do, when you say you are
going to do it! People do business with people
that they trust. People trust people who do what
they say they will do. Keep a to-do list, and
Nobody ever said that getting something
worthwhile done would be easy. Accomplishing
your entrepreneurial goals are likely to be difficult
You will inevitably run into
unanticipated hurdles and obstacles. False starts
are common. Business plans will have to be
rewritten. Partners will lose interest and contracts
will fall through. Count on it, and press forward
Learn Some Accounting
In any business, the
person with the best
financial statements has
an upper hand. Not only
do you need to know that
Revenue – Expenses =
Profit, but you also need to
understand the categories
of Assets, Liabilities and
Equity along with how the
knowledge of the financial
statements, it may only be
your accountant who is
Have Credible Financials
Not only do you need to understand accounting,
but you need to assure that financial statements
are created on regular intervals so that you can
measure your progress.
packages will allow you to input financial
information and create financial statements, yet
this area is often a weakness for smaller
If your firm has greater than $1 million in
revenues you should have a certified public
accounting firm produce Compiled or Reviewed
statements annually. If you ever hope to sell your
business and have revenues which are greater
than $5 million you will want to have Audited
financial statements produced annually.
work can be expensive, but it adds important
credibility to the operation of your business.
This was covered already, but it bears repeating.
If there is nothing else that this list conveys, it’s
that entrepreneurship is hard work!
complicated, diverse, takes tenacity and humility,
requires a broad set of skills and is a long-term
commitment. Entrepreneurship takes hard work –
so get to it!
It’s Not About You
Entrepreneurship is about personal satisfaction in
the workplace and ensuring that our dreams and
needs are met, but in the final analysis it’s about
service. Our businesses are a means to serve our
creator, our customers, our employees and future
generations. It’s not about you, so focus on
being of service.