Start small but scale big.
When you start your business, everyone will tell you to find a small group of people to sell to. In other words, find a niche of specific buyers that you can serve well.
The accepted wisdom is that it makes sense to start small, build a loyal customer base, and then naturally outgrow that small market and go after a bigger one. For me, this advice causes more problems than it helps. I see a lot of entrepreneurs with successful niche businesses, but they’ve hit a ceiling and lost momentum. It impacts your productivity, your growth, and your motivation, and you start second-guessing your strategy. Most of these businesses stagnate at best, but more often than not fail because the founder gets bored and unhappy and moves on.
Momentum is the most powerful force in business, and when you choose to start serving a small niche and hope to outgrow it later, you plan on compromising your momentum at some stage. Don’t be afraid to enter into a large market. Be careful making rules for your business that will get in the way of momentum.
Don’t aim too high.
The sporting culture that’s led to the fascination of being number 1 does not apply to entrepreneurship. Numbers 2 and 3, in most decent-sized industries, represents an extreme level of success that any entrepreneur should be ecstatic about. Don’t aim too high. Aim to improve your current position, but set goals that will motivate yourself, your co-founders, and your staff, and enjoy every step of the journey. You might find that going from #113 to #20 is far more satisfying than going from #3 to #2.
You can’t make luck.
If you made it, it would be execution, not luck. And besides, just like “work hard,” it doesn’t explain why so many people are working on their businesses for so many years and not achieving success. There are shitloads of people working hard or working on making their own luck, but for whatever reason, they don’t get lucky. Perhaps it’s because luck tends to be a bit random. That’s the whole point of luck. To me, it’s okay to admit the truth that luck has a big role to play in success in business. It keeps you humble. As soon as you think you are entirely responsible for your success, you become arrogant.
How did Elon Musk become the god-like figure of entrepreneurs? Sure, he worked hard and took obscene risks, and he’s stupidly smart and creative. Yet he was within inches of it all being one big devastating failure. In 2008, he was within days of bankruptcy, and he landed a huge contract with NASA that saved his space exploration company, SpaceX, and was granted hundreds of millions of dollars from the government to keep his fledgling electric vehicle startup, Tesla, afloat. He’s had his fair share of bad luck. But let’s be honest, that series of events is nothing but good luck!
I’m sick of hearing business experts claim that ideas don’t matter, only execution matters. This is some of the most damaging advice an entrepreneur can take on. It’s basically saying, “Don’t worry too much about what you are working on; just keep working.” The problem is, this is the biggest problem we have: working too hard on the wrong things.
Working hard is a prerequisite, but work hard on a good idea.
Stress isn’t your friend.
Most of the time your best work is done when you aren’t stressed and fearful. A relaxed state with plenty of sleep and working deep in your zone is often where the best work happens. There are certainly times when overcoming fear is the right step. If the outcome puts you in the position you want to be in, great! Go to for it; take the leap. But don’t invite stress and anxiety into your life for the sole reason that you think you have to overcome a certain fear. Sometimes it makes more sense to stay in your zone.
Just build a great product.
What gets more reach on Facebook, pages or groups? What accounting software should I use? What’s a free/cheap way to manage leads in your business? What software should I use for invoicing? Does anyone know how I can find some more information on financial planning?
It doesn’t matter! None of these questions relate to the one problem that I would guess every single one of these entrepreneurs has and the only thing that is going to make a significant dent in the trajectory of their business—a great product. Uber did not take off because they chose the right invoicing software. It took off because there were millions of people frustrated with shitty taxi service, and Uber did it cheaper, more reliably, more efficiently, and more elegantly. Netflix didn’t replace Blockbuster because they had a better logo. The Netflix logo is shit; it’s red letters. It took off because it provided a much better product: more convenient, more engaging, cheaper, higher-quality, the list goes on.
Focus on making a better product for your customers. All the other problems you’ve distracted yourself with DO NOT MATTER.
You’re both successful and struggling. So be happy.
Being a “successful” entrepreneur isn’t all that different from being a struggling one. The struggle is constant, so don’t put all of your eggs in the future basket. If you are pining for a time in the future where you are all of a sudden happy, you probably won’t be. In the best-case scenario, you will get some success, and as a result, you’ll have more options. More places to invest your money. More properties that become attainable. More businesses that need investing. More friends that enjoy your support. The list goes on, and fundamentally, the biggest surprise is you still just feel like you. And if you expect to give your life to entrepreneurship and in the end become someone else, you’re sorely mistaken. No matter how successful, how rich, or how many hair transplants, you will still feel like you.
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You have every reason to be happy, grateful, and accomplished right now. You don’t need some external metric to supply that for you. Be happy now. Be grateful now. Regardless of your success, you will always be you.