Below are selected articles from Smarts, Guts & Luck

The Entrepreneurial Eight: Qualities That Lead To Success

by Ty Freyvogel

So you want to be an entrepreneur. Perhaps you're thinking of buying a franchise restaurant . . . or quitting your dull day job to open a custom bike shop . . . or starting your own in-home graphic design business so you can care for your babies and still make a little cash. Whatever flavor of business you're considering, when you dreamed it up your first thought was probably "How exciting!" Your second thought was "How scary!" And hot on its heels: "Do I really have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?" My responses to these initial reactions are as follows:


1. Yes, it is exciting!

2. Yes, it is scary! But that fact is directly linked to the excitement factor. Ask any skydiver: exhilaration is the other side of the fear coin. You're not going to get one without the other.

3. It depends. On one hand, if you're worried that you don't fit the entrepreneurial mold, you can relax. There is no mold to fit into. That's the great thing about entrepreneurship: you get to be yourself and make a living doing it.

On the other hand (there’s always another hand, isn't there?) I’ve found that with very few exceptions, successful business owners possess the same set of qualities. I call them "The Entrepreneurial Eight" and I've detailed them below. As you start out, you may not possess each of these traits, but the challenges you encounter along the way will help you develop them over time. Read them carefully, and strive to develop them within yourself:

A Natural Risk Taker 

Okay, I am starting with the most obvious quality. Entrepreneurs, by nature, are risk takers. Starting a new business is a huge risk and as you grow a new business you will be taking risk after risk along the way. Of course, the key to being a successful entrepreneur is learning how to anticipate risks along the way. Know the difference between risk taking and being reckless. When I am starting a new business, I always develop a plan B in case things don't go as anticipated. As an entrepreneur, you will learn that there has to be a limit to your risk taking. If your business, or a new development in your business isn't going as planned, you have to know when to pull the plug.


When you start your own business, if you are realistic at all, you have to know going in that there's a chance you may fail. We've all been there. I learned the importance of resilience when my first venture, a franchised telephone consulting business, ran into a major obstacle. The franchiser I purchased the business from went under. I knew that I didn't want my franchise to go under with him, so I ended up taking over the company and we became a huge success. When you become an entrepreneur, anything can happen. You have to be able to change directions on a dime. The key to resilience is being proactive. Anticipate the challenges you will encounter over the next six months, and be prepared to deal with them.

Ability to Learn from Your Mistakes

Talk to any entrepreneur and they'll tell you about crazy, ridiculous mistakes that will have you shaking your head and saying "I just can't believe someone could be that stupid." Well, they can. I can. And so can you. No matter how brilliant a mind you may have, no matter how sharply honed a business sense you possess, you don't have a crystal ball. And that's okay. No one ever learned anything meaningful from success. But failure ... well, failure is chock-full of lessons on business and life. Part of learning from your mistakes is learning how to make your mistakes work to your advantage.

Let me give you an example: When I owned a set of NutriSystem franchises, I gave local deejays free memberships and in return they plugged NutriSystem on the air. The plan was that the deejays would use their memberships and tell their audiences about their success. However, one of deejays wasn't losing any weight, and I knew that it could be a deal killer if someone saw the deejay around town and noted that he wasn't losing weight. So I gave a membership to his assistant and instead of telling about his own progress on the air, he started talking about her progress. By transferring the focus to his assistant, I was able to correct my mistake of relying only on the deejays to follow the plan.

The Need for Independence

Entrepreneurs need to feel in control of their own lives. They chafe under the authority of a "boss," though most of them will gladly jump through hoops to serve their clients and customers. Is there really a difference? In the mind of the entrepreneur, yes. You see, we entrepreneurs generally want to work. When we're immersed in work that we feel passionate about, we get a natural high, not unlike an endorphin rush. We just want to feel that it's our decision, not someone else's. When we work for others, we feel like we are giving up control. When you own your own business, you feel like you are in the driver's seat. No feeling is more empowering.

Passion for What You Do

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before embarking on an entrepreneurial venture. Am I truly interested in this field? Do I daydream about doing the work (instead of just spending the money)? Does this product, service or activity feel meaningful? Does it benefit humanity? Does it bring me joy? You know you have passion for something if you would be willing to do it even if you weren't making any money. If you don't have passion for your business, you are far less likely to be successful.

The Ability to Bring Out Passion in Others

Every entrepreneur relies on the services of other people: partners, vendors, clients, customers-and if you're going to grow beyond a one-person operation, you're going to need employees. While it's important to get everyone around you excited about your company, it's especially critical that the people who work for you have a sense of enthusiasm about their work.

In the early 80s, I owned a group of NutriSystem franchises. I always made a point to sit down with my employees to ask if they were excited to get out of bed and come to work every morning. I wanted to know what they were passionate about at work so I could ensure they were in the best job for them. It never fails ... the more passionate you are about something, the more willing you are to go that extra mile.


Okay, we've established that risk-taking is an innate part of entrepreneurship. But how do we know which risks to take? Yes, you can do all the research, take a million customer surveys, call the smartest person you know and ask his or her advice, then call your mother and ask her advice. And I'm not saying you shouldn't do all those things. But when it all comes down to the wire and you have to choose between Door #1 and Door #2, how do you pick a door? In a word, intuition. You've probably heard it called gut instinct, or maybe a "hunch," or if you're a spiritual type of person, perhaps the voice of your higher self. One thing's for sure: intuition has nothing to do with intellect. Entrepreneurs tend to be highly intuitive people. They trust their gut and act on it. I don't mean to imply that the gut never steers you wrong, but I have found that when I listen to mine, I make a good decision an astonishingly high percentage of the time.

A Sense of Belief and Optimism

There is real power in a positive attitude. From what I have seen in my life, focusing on the positive usually pays off. Holding a fierce belief that you can get the loan, you can close the deal, you can get the big client leads to goal-oriented action-which leads to more goal-oriented action-which leads to getting the loan, closing the deal and getting the big client. Remember that you have to use your optimism or you will lose it. The daily practice of optimistic thinking, backed by hard work, is a practical art.

If you do develop all eight traits in yourself, is success guaranteed? Of course not!  That's why becoming an entrepreneur may be one of the scariest things you'll ever do. And yet, in my opinion, it's the most courageous, fulfilling, authentic way to live your life. After you have experienced the ups (and yes, the downs) of owning your own business, you won't be the same person. You will have grown tremendously and learned a lot about yourself along the way. Those facts alone, regardless of financial success, make it a journey worth taking.

The Right Field for You? Five Ways to be Sure

by Ty Freyvogel


The freedom of entrepreneurship is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you get to do everything on your own terms and in your own way. You're on your own . . . yaay! On the other hand, well . . . you're on your own. (Yikes!) It's up to you (and only you) to make enough money for the business to survive. It's up to you to find customers and keep them. It's up to you to pay off that start-up loan. Everything is riding on your shoulders, on your drive and determination to be a success. And that's why choosing the right field for you is so very vital.

I know all too well the importance of choosing the right field. Why? Because I have made the mistake of choosing the wrong one. Once upon a time, I went into an auto service industry. I bought the franchise because the business model was familiar to me. I had experience in multiple location service businesses, so I felt this was a natural. Wrong! Turns out, I knew nothing about tuning up cars. Worse yet, I really didn't care about the tune up business. But I convinced myself I could learn to like it.

I soon found out that I couldn't. I wasn't passionate about that particular industry or company. And because of my lack of interest, I didn't do proper "due diligence" on the future of the industry before jumping in.

Little did I know, that within five years the U.S. Government would force automobile makers to make energy efficient cars. Those new cars had bright yellow spark plugs that now lasted for the life of the vehicle. And those new cars also were fuel injected, which eliminated carburetors altogether, which just happened to be our most profitable product.

What you don't know about something can kill your business, if not your future. Here are five ways you know you are choosing the right field for you:

1. You jump out of bed ready to work.

If you're not passionate about your field, eventually you're going to make a mistake. As with my case, your lack of interest might cause you to overlook some major stumbling block lying in wait for your fledgling company. But even if you don't commit a major business faux pas, without a passion for your field, you won't have the get-up-and-go attitude you need to be successful. And if you aren't enjoying what you are doing, you are forgetting why you got into entrepreneurship in the first place: doing what you want to do, not what you feel you have to do. Every morning, you should be jumping out of bed excited and ready to start the day. If you can't honestly say that about the venture you're considering, don't do it.

2. You're in it for the work, not just the money. 

I'm sure when you were planning out your business, you found yourself daydreaming (at least for a couple minutes) about all of the potential riches you would earn when it became a success. But simply wanting your business to succeed is not good enough. Not by a long shot. You will have to work at it, and work hard. In fact, you will have to spend hours and hours grueling away to make it a success. So, you'd better love what you are doing more than what you're putting in your pocket. You will know you've chosen the right field if, on a day-to-day basis, you look more forward to the work ahead of you than the payoff you expect in the future.

3. It fits your basic personality. 

If you're a quiet, introspective sort who loves to cook, you might think opening a restaurant is the ideal venture for you. But actually, the day-to-day world of a restaurant owner-hiring employees, working with food vendors, greeting patrons-is more suited for gregarious, "people person" types. (Perhaps your gourmet chef tendencies are better satisfied through cooking for your family and friends!) Make sure you have a good grasp on what the reality of the field is like. Be honest with yourself. Most, if not all, entrepreneurial ventures will involve lots of interaction with people, so if you prefer toiling alone, better stick to a one-man (or woman) field like writing, designing or accounting.

4. It feels meaningful. 

You are going to be spending a lot of time getting your new business off the ground. And chances are in the first few years of the business, you won't be turning much of a profit, so you will need to feel like all of that hard work is getting rewarded in some other way. If the product, service, or activity you are providing has meaning to you, it won't matter that you aren't bringing in tons of money. Providing your customers with a product, service, or activity that you believe in will bring you an immense amount of satisfaction. If you don't feel that satisfaction, you should consider another field.

5. It benefits humanity. 

You may not place humanity on the top of the list of things you should consider when you are developing the plan for your new business. But maybe you should. If you start a company that services radiology equipment for hospitals, you are indirectly responsible for diagnosing life-threatening medical conditions when they're still curable. You can say to yourself, "I help save people's lives." Sounds a lot better than, "I oversee a bunch of machine repair people." Best of all, it's true! You'd be surprised how much it can help at the end of long day to look back and consider whether or not you have done something that has helped people (or even just one person). It could be the force that keeps you motivated while you work to get the business off the ground.

Remember, everyone is excited at the beginning of their new business. It's when the initial excitement wears off that you will need to truly love what you are doing. If that passion isn't there, you may not have the determination you need to get your business through the various bumps in the road. Before you jump into anything, take the time to do a self-examination to ensure that you and your field are a good fit . . . and that you're getting into the business for all of the right reasons.

© Copyright 2015 by Ty Freyvogel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.