6 Rules for Entrepreneurial Success

6 Rules for Entrepreneurial Success

The six rules for entrepreneurial success is the third in an occasional series about becoming an entrepreneur. You can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

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This article was originally published in 2012, and updated in 2022.

Once you have your small business up and running, it is definitely not time to sit back and wait for the profits to roll in. As I have said before “build it and they will come” only worked in Field of Dreams. Once your business starts picking up, it’s easy to begin getting so overwhelmed by the work that we forget to manage the business.  The goal of every small business owner should be to work ON your business and not just IN your business. Here are six rules for entrepreneurial success, that if you follow them, will help you stay on the right track and avoid that overwhelm that causes so many entrepreneurs to throw in the towel.

woodworker following his rules for entrepreneurial success

Pay Attention to the Details

Don’t get so busy that you let the little things slide.  Take the time early in your business to develop an organizational plan that can support you in your growth. As you get too busy to do everything yourself, know what you need to outsource and delegate and do it. If you are having trouble figuring out how to delegate and release control, try reading The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. This is a great instruction manual for every small business owner. You should be controlling the essential functions of the business that match your strengths and that bring in the income and outsourcing those functions that are not the best use of your time and talents.

Keep Your Overhead Low

There is a great temptation for many new business owners to invest in the accoutrements, to have an office and all the trappings that give the image of a successful business. That money is always better spent giving the business a solid foundation than a pretty image.  Save your money for essentials; cut corners on the luxuries. If you can work from home in the beginning, it can save you thousands in your first year. If your existing computer, smart phone and laptop will do the job, wait to upgrade until your business has the cash. Whenever possible, adopt a pay-as-you-go policy of investment. Avoid the temptation to use credit cards to finance your business.  If you must borrow, seek out a low-interest SBA loan, but be prepared to show a solid business plan and give full financial disclosure as part of the process.

entrepreneurial couple in their market

Keep Learning

When you are in business for yourself, you need to be on top of your industry. Continual learning–and applying what you learn–is one of the essential rules for entrepreneurial success. You need to know what’s happening in the business world and you need to make sure you have the latest information available for your niche. There are many ways to keep up with the business world. Subscribe to magazines in your niche (many trade publications are free, either online or in your mailbox). Learn who the key influencers in your industry are and follow their blogs and Twitter accounts.

Find a Mentor and/or Coach

Coaches and mentors aren’t just for beginners. Most CEO’s and successful business owners have coaches. Having someone to keep you accountable, to help you stay focused, to break through barriers and increase productivity are just a few of the benefits of having a coach on your business team. Coaches can provide specifically tailored individual and small-group assistance to help smooth your road to success. If you’re ready for a mentor/coach, message me here and let’s talk. 

Know Your Value & Communicate It

If you do not place value on your product or service and really own that value, no one else will either. Don’t try and compete on price.  Fellow photographer Blake Discher once said, “Competing on price is a race to the bottom.” Just because you’re a new business doesn’t mean your products or services need to be cheaper than your competition’s. Your pricing needs to be based on a combination of YOUR cost of doing business (which is NOT the same as your cost of goods, but we’ll discuss that in a future post) and your value.  Do not underestimate the value of your time and your expertise.

You did not leave the corporate world to work for minimum wage–or less. If your job doesn’t pay as much as working in a fast-food restaurant would, you might as well go work in a fast-food restaurant and save yourself some stress. You need to make sure you are worth the price and then settle for nothing less. Learning to embrace and communicate your value is one of the rules for entrepreneurial success that many entrepreneurs struggle with.

entrepreneurial couple in their bookstore

Set Yourself Apart

Part of your business plan should include your branding. Branding is more than a logo, a color scheme and a tag line. Branding is how your business will be known. It includes your reputation, the way you do business and most importantly, your USP, which stands for “unique selling proposition.”

What is it that you do differently or better than anyone else? Are your widgets cooler, stronger, more flexible or prettier than anyone else’s? Do you have an amazing code in your web designs that make them stand out from everyone else’s? Do you have a way with words that just makes your client’s copy sing? Market that unique talent. Make sure that everyone knows what your business can do that sets you apart from your competition and why they want to do business with you. Oh, and while you’re at it, do it in a way that builds you up without tearing your competition down. It’s really not that hard and will make you much more successful in the long run.

What advice would you give someone going into business?

And what do you wish you knew when you started?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.

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  1. I really need to work on my over head. My company over head is getting to be a bit much! Starting to get that in order and thamks for the tips.

    1. I think that is probably the biggest challenge when starting a business–that period of time when the income isn’t quite rolling in yet and the overhead is still, well, overhead. Keep at it and you’ll get it all balanced out.

  2. Great advice, Marie. I really love the point about paying attention to the details. It’s so important to have a basic structure to work from. Yes, I adore the E-Myth books. It’s really helps you to understand why you need to outsource.

  3. Another great post that gave me lots to consider. 🙂 I especially like your point to keep learning. When you get to the point in your career that you are ready to go into business for yourself, it’s easy to think you know everything you need to know.

    But times change, technology changes, customers’ needs change – everything changes. You have to keep learning to stay in the game.

  4. Awesome list for consideration! I am so enjoying your posts Marie 🙂 Lots of growth in my business in 2012 🙂

  5. Great advice Marie, I was chatting with a fellow entrepreneur about this today. This is a wonderful list of important considerations for every business owner.

  6. Wow! We were definitely on the same wave length today! There is SO much that goes into running a business and it’s great when people who are DOiNG it give their tips! Thanks!

    1. I was just thinking the same thing, Martha! Great minds and all that. . . .

  7. There’s lots of good advice in here, much of which I wish I’d received (or at least paid attention to) when I first ventured into entrepreneurship.

    I would agree that Micahel Gerber’s booth The E-Myth is an essential starting point for entrepreneurs. Following Gerber’s principals means the difference between creating a job for yourself and creating a business that will grow around you.

    I wish I’d found a mentor sooner, but I think I’ve done a good job at keeping overhead low. There are lots of ways to make your business look great without forking out huge money for office space and fancy desks.

    For years I thought if I wanted to make a name for myself, I needed to offer the best rates. It isn’t until recently that I discovered that by upping my rates, I’ve gained the respect I needed to thrive.

    So much great advice crammed in one blog post. Cheers!

  8. Great article and solid advice. We’ve been in business thirty years and I can give a big amen to your advice “Keep Learning.” Keep taking classes, trying new things, seminars, reading and practicing your craft! Talk to people, listen to the experts in your field, read biographies, keep up with trade news and always stay open to what comes your way!

  9. Gee thanks for the ideas it is very big help to pursue my success. 🙂 love it so much.