The Secret to Entrepreneurial Success



Entrepreneurship is vital to the U.S. economy, but about half of all new businesses fail within five years.

I know first-hand what it’s like to take a huge risk to start a company.  I relocated my family to buy a business and ended up $300,000 in debt. Starting a business ranks high with getting married, having your first child and moving as some of the most stressful transitions a person can take. By incorporating a few principles, I discovered that finding authentic joy was the secret to making it all work. Here are a few ways to find your joy:

  1. Get support and think of others. Ask for help. Only relying on learning “the hard way” – as many entrepreneurs do – can lead to isolation and despair. The key is to think about where you need support and take action. Know yourself and your weaknesses so they can be delegated to someone else. Nothing great was accomplished alone.
  2. Prioritize. Businesses will come and go. Career opportunities will as well. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds 10 different jobs before age 40, and this number is projected to grow. True entrepreneurs are in the same boat. What doesn’t change? Your faith, family, friends and health.

Sure, there are times when the business has to take precedence. But one of the best ways to maintain your peace and joy is to remember the constants in your life. Business is variable. Your spouse and kids are constant. Make sure you learn how to focus your mind on the people who will be there by your side forever.

  1. Choose your sacrifices carefully. Starting a business requires huge sacrifice, so make sure the reason why you doing so is not superficial. To start a business simply to make more money will rarely get you through the tough times. The why needs to be deeper than that.

Starting a business should be something you feel like you have to do. It should be a calling of sorts. Ideally, it should be in alignment with your faith and morality. You should feel like someone on a crusade to change lives. If it isn’t this “big,” you will likely get discouraged when the early tough times occur.

By the same token, think about other small sacrifices that you can be making in your life. For many people, the alarm clock is the first battle of the day. How many times do you hit the snooze button? Challenge yourself to immediately get up as soon as the alarm clock goes off. In a sense, you have scheduled an appointment with yourself to get out of bed. The act of delaying this sends messages to your brain that it’s okay to not do what you say you’re going to do. But if you start off your day by accepting that appointment, you have won the first battle of the will and this can spur you on to win more throughout the day.

What leads to joy and why is it important for a start-up entrepreneur? Thinking about others more than yourself, making sure to keep the most important people in your life a priority and realizing the ultimate reason you are choosing to live through your current sacrifices.

Pleasures are fleeting. Joy is lasting. The challenges of starting a business are incredibly difficult. Stay a bit detached from the outcome that you are trying to achieve. Instead, think more about the people involved and the ultimate lives that are going to change through your business venture.

The platinum rule

This allows business leaders to treat others with even more respect and care than before. The golden rule says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When it comes to leadership, it could be worded this way: Lead others the way you want to be led.” When it comes to servant leadership, the platinum rule is a better one to follow, which says “Lead others as they want to be led.”

Leadership happens in every area of life. As an entrepreneur, chances are you definitely know you are a leader in the workplace. Take note that you also need to lead in your family and home life, as well as in business.

For me, faith comes first, then my wife of 20+ years, my five children and then everything else is a considerable distance after that. We’ve lived through tough times and certainly don’t want to go back. But if we had to again, as long as we stuck together, I am certain that everything would work out as it should.




Image Credit: CC by Ricardo Cardenas

About the author: Doug Kisgen

Doug Kisgen is a serial entrepreneur, organizational consultant, and author of Rethink Happy.  His company, Kisgen Group, works with entrepreneurs and executives to help them get what they want through the use of a short survey that validly measures seven work-related traits.

Kisgen’s former company Daydream Senior Care, dba Home Instead Senior Care, was a two-time Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company when he sold it. Kisgen has built several businesses while also remaining an accomplished musician, songwriter and actor.  He has been an EO member since 2010 and a graduate of the Entrepreneurial Master’s Program (EMP) hosted by MIT.

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