15 (not so common) principles of entrepreneurial success

1. Add value first

Gain trust by providing something of value first without expectation. This gets you very far with customers and personal relationships. Don’t squeeze your customers for every penny, especially early. Too many people are tight lipped with helpful advice. Share it. Gain trust and thus loyalty and profit later.

2. 80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your effort

Same with profit and customers. Don’t get lost in the weeds. Work in your wheelhouse and continue to double down on what is generating the highest ROI for you and your business.

3. Say NO more often

Early on saying yes is what leads to small wins and momentum. Casting a wide net early on can be a great strategy. As you get more successful guard your time and stay focused. Scope creep is a real thing with all business. Don’t be afraid to turn away customers to stay focused. There will be many many customers who reach out to you that aren’t in your wheelhouse and your service isn’t for them. Tell them so and focus on the people who you built it for.

4. Outsource your weaknesses

Don’t try to be a jack of all trades – you’ll end up being a master of none. Get really really good at what you do best and outsource everything else.

5. Start small and start local

You don’t need to touch millions to make millions. Start with 10 true customers. Then 20. Some great businesses can be build with 100 true fans. Don’t try to build your product/service for everyone or it will end up not working for anyone. Customers want you to specialize.

6. Passion doesn’t move product

Too many people start businesses based on their own selfish desires. If you are passionate about it chances are so are thousands of other people. The market doesn’t care what you want to spend your time doing. Build a business based on a gap and a need. Don’t try to turn your passions into business. Be passionate about building something and entrepreneurship. Think with your head – not your heart. These businesses are targets for passionate illogical people so be careful.

7. Ego is the enemy

A lot of business is being in the right place at the right time. An early win can lead to an amplified failure. Your ego can lead to filtering the incoming information based only on what you want to hear. It can cloud your judgement. Being right is more important than finding the BEST solution. Stay humble. Encourage those around you to challenge you. Change your mind quickly and often if the data points to it.

8. Work on the stuff that is important but not urgent

Everybody works hard. You can’t succeed by out working the next guy. You have to work on the things that are important but not urgent. Make the decision that removes a thousand future decisions. Think ahead. Do the uncommon work.

9. Its not about finding great people. Its about simplifying the job

I know there are exceptions to this. But to do anything at scale you need to simplify what you are asking out of your employees. They need to specialize. Ask them to be very good at one or two things and ignore everything else. Set up your systems so NORMAL people can do very well at your company.

10. Keep your emotions out of your decisions

Be a stoic. Think logically and calmly in the face of stress, uncertainty, anger and fear. This is the skill that will get you very very far and save you tons in damage control. Read Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic and The Obstacle is the Way.

11. Don’t sleep on service businesses

Choose your competition wisely. Its a lot easier to compete on a local level with the mom and pop down the street than on a global level with venture capital and big money. Here is a list of service businesses I love.

12. Control your own platform

Don’t rely on other platforms to bring you customers. Starbucks spent hundreds of millions getting facebook followers. Then facebook changed the algorithm and now Starbucks still has to pay to reach them. Amazon Basics comes out with new products daily that completely crush businesses who previously dominated. YouTube is changing the way it interacts with its content producers daily. When you are dependent on a third party you are at risk.

13. Know the difference between value and money

The hard and important work of a successful entrepreneur is understanding value. It’s easy to ignore value because we can’t see it, touch it or count it. It isn’t liquid this very moment. The successful entrepreneurs know it all too well. They know how to recognize it. They know how to measure it. They know how to grow it. They know how to invest in it and build it.

14. You don’t build a network – you earn a network

Networking is important – don’t get me wrong. Your network will become valuable only after you bring something to the table. Build your first company. Get really good at something. Then your network will be fruitful.

15. Frugality wins.

Start a lean business that can survive change. Keep your expenses variable. Buy things used. The longer you can operate without taking a profit the better off you will be.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.