Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Entrepreneurship: Succeed or Bust!

Are you meant to be an entrepreneur? Do you have what it takes to build a business for yourself? Do you have a great idea that needs to be in the marketplace? 1. Do you love what you do? Are you passionate about getting up in the morning and starting to work on your business? It is very difficult to excel in your work environment if you are not passionate about the work you do. Whatever you decide to do, choose to be in a business or a field that you love. 2. Are you the best person for the job? Do you have the right elements of human capital to be successful in your industry? Human capital is talent, skill, ability, experience, and education. I would love to be a ballerina or a gymnast. I have neither the talent (strength, stamina, build, etc.) nor the training to be a ballerina or a gymnast. I am clearly not the best person for the job. 3. Does being an entrepreneur or a leader in business suit you? Are you self-motivated and do you have the ability to motivate and lead others? Are you persuasive? Can you sell your idea? 4. Do you have the right personality for the job? Some people are more outgoing and extroverted than others. What makes one person good at sales may mean that they are poor record keepers. A business that demands a great deal of personal selling and customer service may not be ideal for the more introverted person. Look closely at your personality, and match your personality to that part of the business. For those jobs that do not interest you but are necessary parts o the business, are you willing to hire the best people possible, pay them as much as you can, and then trust them to do their jobs well. 5. Are you confident in yourself and your business idea? Successful business leaders are proud of their product and the people who work with them. Great business leaders exude confidence that is contagious to people around them and is evident in everything they do. They are sure that their business is going to succeed, that their products are the best in the market, and that their people are delivering quality service every time. 6. Can you make good decisions? Can you make difficult decisions? Can you make decisions that impact people’s jobs, their livelihood, or their level of satisfaction with your business? Entrepreneurs must be decisive. They need to understand the factors involved information required, and the consequences of the decision, then act on the decision in a confident and efficient manner. 7. Do you treat people nicely? Do you really love people? All people? One of the points I make to business people is that they truly need to want to serve others. The best business people are those who happily and cheerfully deliver great service to everyone. I (gently) warn people that if they want to succeed in business, they need to give up every stereotypical or discriminatory idea they were raised with, because great businesses embrace all of their customers and treat them all like royalty. 8. Are you financially committed? Are you willing to devote your personal resources and savings to start and grow your business? Have you mapped out the finances associated with this endeavor? (If not, here is a free download to help you plan your revenues and expenses 9. Do you walk the talk? Have you ever seen a bumper sticker on a car that preaches love or peace and then they cut people off while waving obscenely? What about vehicles that are mobile promotions of an electrician, plumber or a cable company but they dangerously weave in and out of traffic? . When the drivers drive badly, it definitely sends the wrong message. If you advertise one message but practice another, you lose authenticity and alienate current and future customers. Can you live according to your external messaging? 10. Do you have a vision of where you want your business to go? Successful entrepreneurs have a mental picture of where they want their business to be in five years, ten years, and twenty years. Once they have this vision, they plan out the steps needed to achieve this future. Wildly successful entrepreneurs combine their passion with their vision, and are confident with where the business is going, how it is going to touch lives, and how other people will participate either as client, customers, or as employees. Owning you own business sounds glamorous. As an entrepreneur, it sounds like you would be in control of your time, talent and destiny. That is the view from the outside. From the inside, ask any entrepreneur, and they will tell you they have never worked as hard for someone else as they work for themselves.


  1. Elizabeth Hagen

    Great article, Mary! I am definitely meant to be an entrepreneur and so glad I am!

  2. Marilyn Suttle

    You pose the questions that will help an entrepreneur know if the path they are picking is a good fit. Success needs to include happiness, passion, and a true “I want to be doing this” feeling otherwise the stress will eventually take you down. Well done Mary!

  3. Mary Kelly

    Thanks for the comments! I appreciate your thoughts!
    Warmly, Mary

  4. Ashley

    This is excellent. Any aspiring entrepreneur needs to read this and be able to answer these questions. Because it takes guts to be one as you need to be up to the challenge.


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