March 21, 2024

5 Essential Takeaways from Hundreds of Successful Entrepreneurs

All successful entrepreneurs have five key things in common. Here's their secret to achieving their goals and reaching next-level success.

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When I started building my business, my dad—a seasoned business owner—gave me one piece of advice: “Enjoy your clients.”

Having worked with hundreds of clients over the years, I’m happy to say that finding joy in my work is rarely a problem.  I’ve had the great fortune to work with great people.

These clients have challenged, inspired, and taught me what it takes to run a successful business.

Here are some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from them:


1. Successful entrepreneurs know that progress is better than perfection, but you should all aim to do your best.

There are some great quotes about the dangers of perfectionism —many are scribed on inspirational pillows or posted on social media by self-help gurus. 

While I’m not trying to undermine this idea, I have observed that the adage “progress over perfection” is often used as a crutch by individuals who don’t want to make an effort to make something work.

On the other hand, successful entrepreneurs tend to aim for greatness and put 100% into everything they do but still accept that they probably won’t achieve perfection.  

They’re also inclined to consider all the variables that go into any project or pursuit—time, resources, and existing knowledge—and evaluate the outcome based on those parameters. 

They’ll often say things like, “Ok, this is the best we can do right now,” or “Once we get X, we’ll be able to improve Y.” In other words, they’re happy to measure and acknowledge progress but equally driven to get better.

For successful, forward-thinking entrepreneurs, progress is part of their business journey, and they take each step with a sense of purpose and care. And that’s pretty inspirational! So, while the goal may not be perfection, the aim is still a certain level of greatness.


2. Thriving business owners focus on what their customers’ wants and then they give them what they need.

I can tell how long someone has been in business by the way they describe their work to me when we first meet.  

Early-stage business owners are keen to tell me all about the product or service in great detail. On the other hand, more seasoned entrepreneurs describe their customers first. Then, they’ll send me a resource describing what they intend to sell. 

Experienced business people understand they’re not just selling a product or service. They’re providing solutions to problems and helping customers change their lives. They know that when it comes to marketing, communicating the “transformative experience” they offer is probably more important than the product or service itself.

Successful entrepreneurs understand that customer-centered marketing communicates its value proposition in the clearest, simplest, and most engaging way possible. They’re very good at listening to their customers, attending to their needs, and adjusting their messaging to reflect those desires while staying true to their brand. 

3. Great leaders know when to in-source and outsource.

Ok, so I don’t think in-source is technically a word, but one of my favorite clients/people uses this phrase a lot (Hi John!).

Entrepreneurs wear many hats, especially in the early stages of business development, so it’s sometimes difficult to know when to keep specific work in-house and when to use an outsider. 

A very successful serial entrepreneur turned coach told me that they hire contractors for three reasons:

  • To save themselves or their team time and energy.
  • To access expertise and knowledge they lack.
  • To get a fresh perspective that could inspire their team and innovate their business.

Above and beyond the financial gains that outsourcing may provide, working with outside experts can spark creativity in your in-house tea. It’s also a great way to try a new approach or learn something new, which brings us to the next lesson…


4. Successful business leaders stay curious and never stop learning.

I don’t know why this surprises me every time, but when I’ve worked with successful people, I’ve always been amazed at their bread of knowledge and interests. They have hobbies and interests that go beyond their work. They’re constantly reading and learning new things. Their passion for life is contagious, and I think it fuels their passion for business. 

If you work in the creative space, it’s also very handy to collaborate with people like this. 

Creative marketing initiatives require innovative thinking, and staying curious is the only way to stay creative.  Some of my best and most successful projects were sparked by clients’ interests or expertise in areas outside their core business. 

That’s because being open to new ideas and perspectives, having a range of interests, and having a reasonable depth of knowledge in certain areas help develop better strategies and unique messaging for a business.


5.  Successful entrepreneurs just keep moving forward.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve had to remind myself of “The Tortoise and the Hare” parable throughout my business trajectory. I’ve seen many people succeed much faster than I have in this line of work, and it’s difficult not to compare myself to them.

Fortunately, time keeps moving forward. The more time I’ve spent working with entrepreneurs while running my business, the more I realize that genuinely successful people tend to grow their businesses “low and slow.” 

As one client said, “Lots of people in my line of work think they’re running a business, but they’ve just created a lucrative hustle that rarely succeeds in the long run.” 

Hustlers are preoccupied with growing their revenue quickly. Successful entrepreneurs focus on steadily and strategically developing their operations and brand so they can grow their bottom line sustainably. Sometimes, that pace feels too slow, but having the patience to move forward with purpose is always the better approach.

Overall, successful entrepreneurs have an enduring optimism that keeps them engaged and inspired even when the chips are down. My favorite clients remind me of this. That resilience and drive come down to three essential qualities.

I look forward to what they’ll teach me in the future.

Kelly MacDonald

Kelly established Brave Tale to combine her love of the written word with her passion for entrepreneurship. As a strategist and copywriter, Kelly helps turn your business vision into messaging that’s true to your brand.

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