How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur – Five Lasting Lessons
Five Lasting Lessons
The road to success as an entrepreneur has five lasting lessons you must learn along the way:
- Work hard.
- Expect failures.
- Learn while you earn.
- Be the best person you can be.
1. Work Hard
I will be disappointed, of course, but I will not be in the least surprised if this turns out to be the most unpopular article I have written in the last two years. Perhaps ever.
Why? Because I am writing about a subject no one wants to hear:
There is no substitute for hard work.
Without Hard Work the Odds are Against You
An unknown author once penned a few words that have stood the test of time.
Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.
This is an alluring statement. But like so many other alluring statements, it carries a dangerous connotation with it. It suggests that success requires just a “few years” of effort to create a lifetime of comfort.
The truth is, the odds against being the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg are higher than being struck by lightning and making a gazillion dollars selling the resulting electricity.
This is the unvarnished truth: If you choose to be an entrepreneur, you have chosen the longest hours, the least security, the most risk and (without Herculean effort) the least likelihood of financial triumph of any road you might follow. The only statement you can make about entrepreneurship that is irrefutable is this: There is no substitute for hard work.
2. Expect Failures
In addition to hard work, you should expect failures along the way.
Thomas Edison, one of the foremost inventors of our time, was a colossal failure in his effort to commercialize the incandescent light bulb — failing thousands of times before he finally succeeded.
He explained it this way:
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Edison also believed in hard work and spent countless hours in the lab, despite frustration and failure. He said of his fellow businessmen:
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
3. Learn to Think
Most significantly, Edison adopted the view that most people ultimately fail because they have never learned how to think. He came to this conclusion:
Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.
4. Learn While You Earn
One of the most significant advantages to traveling the road toward entrepreneurial success is that you can learn from other entrepreneurs. In Trajectory, I stress the value of Power Tweeting, during which you provide useful content to your followers but as a side benefit assemble powerful knowledge for yourself. Jim Rohn, the self-described “business philosopher” cautions us to raise the bar for our followers and for ourselves. He explains it this way:
Don’t just read the easy stuff. You may be entertained by it, but you will never grow from it.
Napolean Hill echoes the sentiment when he says:
If you’re not learning while you’re earning, you’re cheating yourself out of the better portion of your compensation.
5. Be the Best Person You Can Be
If you follow the first four lessons, you will be on your way to becoming the best person you can be. Striving toward this lofty goal is a reward in itself. Jim Rohn said it best:
The greatest reward in becoming a millionaire is not the amount of money that you earn. It is the kind of person that you have to become to become a millionaire in the first place.
Choosing the road toward successful entrepreneurship is not all hard work and unrelenting struggle. It can, in fact, be the best decision you make and the most rewarding road you may ever travel. It will certainly make a profound difference in your life.
Robert Frost, my favorite poet, captured the essence of the entrepreneurial journey this way:
I shall be telling this with a sigh,
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.