Key Ingredients to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

January 16, 2020

I started blogging back in the 2000s when my product, reached the 1 million viewer mark. I thought my voice to consumers was okay, but it was the articles I wrote about how to start, grow and sell a startup that resonated the most – at least with me.

Here in 2020 I plan to bring back my favorite rules about being an entrepreneur. My plan is to go into depth on each one, but for now, here they are in summary –  

Without vision you have nothing

Startup weekends, hackathons and meetups are a waste of time. Million Cups of Coffee? Don’t go. Here’s why. If you’re truly an entrepreneur, you don’t have the time. If you’re not an entrepreneur, attending those startup clusterf*%&s are not where you’ll get your vision. Trust me.

Only start a business if you have a purpose

You need to be solving a problem. Solving that problem needs to become your inspiration. I started Syncbak to make watching broadcast TV on the Internet simple. Enough said.

Hire great people

You’re not going to do it alone. If that’s your goal, get a cat and sell stuff on eBay. If you’re starting a company, you need great people to help.

Madness is a prerequisite

Think about any entrepreneur you know or know about. What is the most common characteristic? Simple. We’re all a little crazy. We are all a little mad. You need to be to stay focused on the task at hand. The odds are stacked against you.

Be a great listener

This rule works everywhere in life. For this instance, the clues to what problems need solving come out of the mouths of potential customers, like “I wish this thing could do that thing.” People need problems solved and they’re often willing to talk about them.

Proceed with caution

A lot of things I can say here, but the most important is to think carefully about with whom you spend your time with. If the person’s job is to help entrepreneurs, but they’ve never been one themselves, run. They can’t help you because they don’t know how.

Measure everything

How are we doing? Seems like such a simple question, but all too often companies struggle with the answer. Set goals and constantly measure whether or not you are achieving them.

Nothing beats going face-to-face

This is especially important in the era of devices that make it is so easy NOT to visit our customers. Get off your ass, buy a plane ticket, reserve a hotel room and go see your customers. I guarantee they will appreciate the effort. 

Raise the right money

Building a great business takes time. Your investors need to understand that. Don’t take money from someone where you are their only investment. That’s not an investor. That’s a person who should be in mutual funds. Raise money from strategic investors or venture capitalists. They understand the risks and they can help you.

Don’t forget to celebrate

Seems obvious, right? It’s not. If you’ve set goals and achieved them, celebrate. If you just made your first sale, celebrate. If the press managed to mention your intrepid genius in an article, celebrate. Take time to celebrate.