Five Success Principles Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Heed

Christopher Connors Insights

6 mins read 2 comments

When you’re looking to make the leap to full-time entrepreneurship, it’s best to study the journeys of success stories who have come before you. History is a great lesson, as when studied carefully, we can learn from the mistakes of others and refine our approach to perfect our craft. Most importantly, we can learn the success principles that really matter and should always be abided by as we progress toward a profitable business. 

The mistake aspiring entrepreneurs make is thinking they can simply “jump right in” to the doing part of things while ignoring principles like mindset, planning, and identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement. In other words, it’s great to have all your bases covered, as well as knowing your blind spots.

As I’ve built my own business as an author, professional speaker, and executive coach, I’ve realized that five guiding principles have made the difference between pro and amateur. The truth is, there’s so much more to succeeding as an entrepreneur than just the power of your product or customer service. You need to consistently practice what you preach and get better each day if you want to survive and thrive. Here are five success principles to practice if you want to create a business that has what it takes to succeed for the long haul.

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1. Planning + Execution = Achieving Daily Goals 

This is both a success formula and a principle that is very simple in nature, yet profound in impact. You need to have a plan in order to successfully execute. The problem with many entrepreneurs is they think they can begin without a strategy. Sure, they’ve given things thought and they’ve dreamed about it for months or years. But it takes a lot more than just an idea to succeed. 

Dr. Kelly McGonigal, Stanford University psychologist, points out that creating a framework for goal setting is pivotal. In other words focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. 

“That’s basically just brain chemistry. Any sort of avoidance is going to trigger inhibition systems, whereas positive goals are going to trigger approach and reward motivation.”

plan to reach goals

The first step to planning is carving time into your schedule. Build-in dedicated time on your calendar to actual planning. It’s not sexy. Most people won’t brag about it. Yet, planning is what the world’s most successful entrepreneurs do. From there, you’re able to build out the dream day you want. You then have the blueprint in front of you and you can tie this to wanting to achieve, which makes the process better.

Motivation is absolutely essential, as a key part of emotional intelligence, and getting self-motivated takes self-awareness. To set achievable, high-impact goals, you must know what you want and you must fuse it with a desire to achieve it.

2. Two Things You Can Control – Your Attitude and Your Effort

This is the maxim that has meant the most to me in my life and it’s enabled me to write two bestselling books, work with executive clients around the globe, and deliver speaking engagements for industry-leading organizations. You can always approach every day with a positive attitude. This impacts the way you think and how you see yourself. 

You can always outwork the competition. You do not have control over the changes in the market, and certainly not a global pandemic. But you always have control over how you react. This is about adaptability and requires emotional intelligence and analysis. If you’re observing prospective clients shifting to different buying habits, then you must adapt and meet them where they are. You have control over that.

You don’t have control over a prospective client’s buying decision, but you can certainly influence their behavior by being prepared, understanding their needs and challenges, and offering a way to solve them. 

3. Know Your Greatness. Know Your Weaknesses

If you’re sitting here thinking, “I know I can do this. I’ve always believed I can do this. I just have to figure out how to build some momentum,” then you’re able to look yourself in the mirror with clear eyes and know you’ve got the goods. This is the exact thought sequence that played back in my mind prior to launching my leadership development business. 

I knew I had the goods. I believed it and other people told me. That was the starting point. The most important part was understanding why I felt that way, which further informed the things I was good at. Once I had the foundation for greatness, it was simply time to execute.

man sitting in front of a mirror

So, I turn to you and ask: What is your greatness? What is the thing (or things) that you do so well, that comes so naturally to you, that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have the goods? This belief and self-awareness create MOMENTUM. It puts the wheels in motion to get you moving from aspiring to acting. Taking action is where it’s at. 

Then, know what you don’t do well. This is not meant to be a frustrating, cathartic exercise that leaves you down. Knowing your weaknesses is actually a strength! This means you outsource these things and find partners who can complete them for you. This means you stop pouring hours and hours of time into things you don’t know, or you don’t do well, and you instead use your time to focus on the things you do well to increase your productivity.

In turn, you increase your likelihood of succeeding. 

Last, when it comes to knowing your strengths and weaknesses, remember this: You don’t have to prove anything to anyone but yourself. As you go through this thinking, don’t fret about what you don’t do well. Don’t feel like you need to justify your talents and greatness to anyone but yourself. This will enable you to pour your energy, heart, and soul into producing your best product and effort. That’s what the marketplace wants and needs.

4. Create a “Recharged Cyclical Mindset”

What is this? It’s a mindset that has both a beginning and end for each day and each process. It’s how you approach every part of your day and rejuvenate your energy with powerful thoughts, visualization, affirmations, and fun challenges to enable you to compete and rise to every new challenge. So, what does it look like? 

Step 1: Gratitude 

Give thanks at the beginning of your day for the blessings you have in your life. Even if you haven’t yet attained the success you want, be grateful that you have the opportunity to go for it! Not everyone does  so never take that for granted. Saying thank you (orally) and even journaling these thoughts is a very powerful, therapeutic way to get you in the right state of mind.

Step 2: Creative Thoughts that Kindle Your Fire 

What lights the fire inside of you? You might get energized thinking about that moment when your new product achieves its first 1,000 sales. Maybe you’re excited about the actual process of creating, testing, and tweaking. If you’re aspiring to be an entrepreneur, you have the creative bug. You have the itch. Something inside of you is stirring with passion to do great things.

It’s called fire and to get into a recharged mindset, you’re going to want to think deep on the things that really motivate and inspire you.

image of brain and thoughts

Step 3: Visualization Tied to Purpose 

See yourself doing great things by walking play-by-play through the steps that it will take to get there. See yourself winning. This is always best when it’s tied to your purpose, which is your “why” for doing what you’re doing. Purpose ignites progress. See yourself making progress and use your progress to complete the mental mapping process for the future.

Step 4: Focus on What Matters Most 

This is two parts: 

  1. Execute and get in the mindset of doing what needs to get done
  2. It’s also a call to focus on the people and things that matter most to you in your life. Everything else is a distant second.

Step 5: Self-Reflection 

Look back at your day, not with criticism, but with pride and inspiration for how to be successful again tomorrow. What worked? What didn’t? And most importantly what did you learn about yourself and your budding business?

Successful entrepreneurs have a learning mindset. They dedicate time every day to learning about their product, industry, and the marketplace. Things can change in an instant. A self-reflection process enables you to evaluate and stay on top.

Step 6: Recharge 

Wind down and decompress. I literally decompress my spine each day using an inversion table. It makes me feel relaxed. I also get a healthy night of sleep and drink lots of water. You can have a meditation practice or spend 15 minutes reading uplifting literature. Maybe you just need to watch a show on DVR that helps you chill. Don’t burn out. Recharge instead. 

5. Build One New Relationship Every Day

The best leadership advice I’ve ever received is very simple: Start building relationships right away. This includes the relationship you have with yourself and the relationships you build in your personal and professional life. Let’s focus here on the latter. You will grow your ideas, you will grow yourself, and you will grow your business by focusing on building relationships. 

Even if you run an entirely online business, you still need the relationships that come from working with freelancers, distributors, partners, and clients. Take advantage of social media sites like LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram. Find people in your space that you admire and ask them about how they became successful. Don’t hesitate reach out and ask!

Concluding Thoughts

The often-overlooked ingredients of entrepreneurial success are truly the principles that will guide you through good times and bad. The right mindset positions you for continuous growth. Setting goals works both your planning and execution muscles that need to work in harmony to complete the tasks at hand. You’re best positioned for success when you focus on what you do well and spend time continuing to lean into those strengths. Before long, you’ll see your journey unfolding in front of you in exactly the way you’ve always imagined.

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Christopher Connors
Christopher Connors
Christopher Connors is an author and executive coach. His books include The Value of You and Emotional Intelligence for the Modern Leader.