Why Do Some Entrepreneurs Succeed While Others Don’t?

IF YOU SPENT all your time listening to economists, you’d quickly convince yourself of why entrepreneurs fail. It’s because they fail to anticipate the preferences of customers or changes in prices. In other words, entrepreneurs fail because of bad luck.

This sort of reasoning seems to suggest that there is no role for the individual. Entrepreneurs are just a big homogenous mass of people, randomly assigned to different enterprises. Because of the fact that prices and tastes change unpredictably, some will succeed, and some are unfortunately going to fail.


Does this story sound complete to you? It certainly doesn’t to me. While there’s no doubt that some entrepreneurs lose out to the randomness of the market, it’s not the case for all. Some entrepreneurs just don’t know what they’re doing. And, as a result, it doesn’t matter how great or relevant their ideas, they’re not going to succeed.

Right now there’s a big debate about whether entrepreneurship is something that you can learn or that you’re just born with. It’s the age-old tug-of-war between nature and nurture, battling it out in yet another field of human inquiry. There are those who see the entrepreneur as some sort of social mystic. He or she is a person who just has a particular knack around other people. They’re able to make things happen where lesser mortals couldn’t. It’s sort of opposite to the views of the economists who see each agent in the economy as basically the same. According to the “nature” crowd, many entrepreneurs fail simply because they aren’t actually entrepreneurs.

Then there are those who see entrepreneurship as something that can be learned, even taught. These people tend to be very optimistic. But they’re not clear on how exactly one would teach entrepreneurship.

Whatever the case, this “nurture” crowd argues that the reason entrepreneurs fail is for lack of experience. In other words, they’re inadequately trained for doing the job of entrepreneurship. One can have a lot of sympathy for this position. After all, schools aren’t exactly in the business of teaching kids how to be entrepreneurs. It seems like the emphasis there is to transform children into passive wage-earners.


If we accept that entrepreneurship can be taught, and success is not just random, then there is hope. Entrepreneurs can actually do something about the chance that they succeed. But what exactly can they do? The answer to that question isn’t simple, but some big themes come up time and time again.

They Make Their Services Accessible

Today’s economy is dramatically different to the economy of just a couple of decades ago. Now businesses don’t rely so much on foot-fall as they do on website traffic. It’s no longer the case that SEO is just for online retailers. Law firm SEO is important too. Successful entrepreneurs, therefore, make their services accessible.

They Build A Great Reputation

In a world dominated by data, your reputation is everything. In business, you need an excellent reputation to be successful. Just look at the eBay model where sellers (and buyers) have to prove their worth. Successful entrepreneurs know the value of reputation and work to improve their own.

They Invest In Themselves

Entrepreneurs know that conditions are always changing. If they get left behind, they end up getting stuck in the past. And that’s bad news if they’re trying to adapt to new products, clients or markets. Successful entrepreneurs, therefore, make learning a habit.

They Assemble Great People And Keep Them

What a lot of people don’t realise is just how socially adept great entrepreneurs need to be. All too often they look at the example set by a narrow group of famous Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. They leave with the impression that social skills don’t matter.

The fact is that in most lines of business, social skills matter a lot, nowhere more so than when it comes to attracting and retaining staff. Ask any entrepreneur running a small business, and they’ll tell you that they totally depend on their employees. Without them, they’d be totally lost.

They Self-Promote

A lot of people feel awkward about promoting themselves so brazenly. But entrepreneurs that are successful get used to it very early on. They embrace the idea of selling themselves because they know that ultimately that is what will sell their product.


They Do What They Love

Money doesn’t actually drive most entrepreneurs. They’re usually driven by something else. Often it’s a desire to make a difference in the lives of others. When it’s a labour of love, the passion they have shines through the company’s products.

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