America’s Revenue Growth® Architect, Kent Billingsley, reveals what makes an entrepreneur successful.
What makes an entrepreneur successful? There is no shortage of answers on the Internet and books on the subject of how and why a certain breed of businessperson achieves fortune or fame. “You must be passionate, with great drive, be fearless, don’t take no for an answer, and you must be highly motivated and disciplined!” shouts the many motivational speakers and YouTube videos. A recent but disturbing mantra has been, “You must learn how to fail.” Yeah, I can’t wait until my 11-year-old uses that one after receiving a lousy math score. “I’m learning a lot, Dad. I’m mastering how to fail.” I hope that terrible talking point and belief goes away soon.
Could the so-called experts all be wrong? We don’t know where many of the “in-your-face” speakers get their data, or even if they even have any, but this is ours based on working with entrepreneurs around the world. Over the last twenty years, we have had several thousand entrepreneurs as clients in our high-intensity programs. In almost all cases we are with them physically inside their offices every week for up to five years at a time. We are typically embedded alongside the senior leadership and the field teams in parallel helping all levels transform their business.
Unlike researchers, observers, or trainers, we help guide the strategy, provide the restructuring, lead the cultural reengineering, and architect the organizational transformations from the inside out. We have lived with the political powerplays, experienced the periodic but disruptive reorganizations, while also watching some teams “get unstuck,” and others make ridiculous fortunes
After the first five years of delivering on-site programs, we started seeing a pattern emerge that split the entrepreneurs of our monthly programs into two distinct groups. One group was those entrepreneurs who enjoyed good-to-great success with their business. They achieved solid growth, strong profits, and a new sense of control and joy with their businesses. Another group, somewhat smaller, achieved unimaginable success, or what could be called “retire-tomorrow” riches. They either started generating ridiculous profits or, in many cases, sold their companies for millions more than they ever expected.
The overarching question became finding out what the difference or differences were between these two groups. What made some entrepreneurs embarrassingly rich and others not so much? The common thinking was the hyper-successful group had superior products and services. No, that wasn’t it. Maybe the second group had more passionate and driven leaders and workers. Many speakers talk about success in business is all about passion. No, the emotion and efforts were about the same. Then it must be that the most successful were in red hot or fast-growth industries. Nope, some were in industries either stagnant or declining.
What is the differentiator? It’s not traits or talent; it’s how the leader thinks and executes. The big “Aha!” we discovered was almost every leader in our programs called themselves an “entrepreneur.” But what we found is the group (leaders and employees) who became millionaires and multi-millionaires in short order were actually highly “entrepreneurial.” They exhibited the highest spectrum of attributes such as “creative problem solving, understanding and calculating risk, investing versus spending, leverage versus working harder or working smarter.”
These leaders and employees, who never have to work again, were willing to do things radically differently – to follow a different roadmap. They had the will and didn’t follow the old path of just focusing on starting, running, and growing a business. Instead, they learned how to “create business wealth” – a different but more successful path that has proven to be work even in today’s tough economic times. Creating wealth inside a company is when you understand how to scale your sales, increase revenues, and produce greater profits without spending more money, hiring more resources, or working any harder. Instead of the old and stale paradigm of “you must spend money to make money” they learned how to make money without spending any. Today, whether you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner you must become more “entrepreneurial” and follow the roadmap to creating business wealth.