The 15 New Rules for Successful Entrepreneurs

Beyond the platitudes and fauxtivation, there are real reasons why some entrepreneurs succeed where others fade. If you’re tired of dreaming your dreams and are ready to wake up and start living them, here are 20 new rules to guide you along your path to success

1. Redefine success

Success in entrepreneurship is largely dependent on your ability to cultivate quality relationships. Behind every successful startup are visionaries with the volition to turn dreams into reality. Behind them are the people who believe in them: their investors, their advisors, their vendors, their spouses, family, and friends. Without their support, their guidance, their faith in you, you cannot succeed. Success is more than just positive cash flow, it’s validating the faith of everyone who believes in you.

2. People invest in people

Once you’ve got your big idea, you’ll need to procure two key items in order to proceed: OPE (Other People’s Experience) and OPM (Other People’s Money). Your financial projections need to be solid, and you must be able to demonstrate the ability to execute your grand schemes. But at the end of the day, people do not invest their time, money, and access to their social networks because you had the best spreadsheet. Be the kind of person that people want to believe in, the kind people want to succeed. 

3. Identify and solve a problem only you can see

If your product or service doesn’t solve a need, there’s no reason for it to exist. Successful entrepreneurs provide something that the general population doesn’t know they need, until they can’t live without it.

4. Eschew market research

The Old Way was to commission a study, hire focus groups, convene a marketing team, and create via groupthink. This archaic method of product development would never have produced the laptop, the mobile phone, or Airbnb. The best way to predict trends is to create them.

5. Don’t just make money; make a difference

If all you want is to make money, go be an investment banker. The world doesn’t need more money. It definitely could use more ideas, and better solutions. Any good businessman can make money, great entrepreneurs make money and make the world a better place.

6. Never sacrifice values for valuations

The hardest thing in a capitalist society is making a legal fortune. Second hardest would be making an ethical fortune. Never sacrifice your beliefs for the sake of winning. If you’re lucky you’ll make a living. In the meantime, make a life.

7. Fuel your passions

When you’re exhausted, broke, and utterly frustrated, passion will make you jump out of bed on a Monday morning and work late into the evening, long after your friends with jobs they hate are sleeping comfortably. Never lose track of the reasons behind your endeavors.

8. Court luck

There are some circumstances that are forever beyond your control: where you’re born, the family you’re born into, the schools that begin your education. If you weren’t born lucky, learn to create your own luck. More than persistence, more than intellect, nothing lends itself to success quite like being in the right place at the right time. When Luck shows up, make sure you’re ready. Opportunity rarely presents herself a second time to the unprepared.

9. Circumvent reality

An entrepreneur is someone who doesn’t allow limited resources to remain a hindrance. Figure out how to bend reality, to recreate it to suit your needs. If a rule can be broken, break it. If it can’t, find out how far it will bend.

10. Bite off more than you can chew, then grow fangs

Success–against all odds and in the face of all adversity–is a testament to just how much you can accomplish through sheer force of will. Reach beyond your means. Set unreachable goals. Nothing great was ever accomplished by being realistic.

11. Identify one insurmountable task per day, then surmount the hell out of it

The affairs of the day can usually be divvied up into two categories: a seemingly innumerable amount of mundane tasks, and one behemoth feat, suitable for Ahab himself. Let your people handle the minnows, you go after the whale. Keep the heaviest lifting for yourself: heroes are heroes because they attempt–and achieve–the impossible.


12. Business is always personal

Always err on the side of basic decency. If it’s a good way to live, it’s a good way to do business. Ethically, strive to be kind. Strategically, strive to be badass. Ideally, strive to be both. 

13. Master the art of risk assessment

Learn the difference between a leap of faith and a jump of stupidity. Develop a tolerance for the discomfort of uncertainty, and remember: flying is just controlled falling.

14. Confidence is sexy. Tenacity is sexier

Most success stories are a series of narrowly avoided catastrophes. Your path to success is going to be generally littered with pitfalls, setbacks and minefields. You won’t know who you are until you discover that rock-bottom has a sub-basement. When your confidence is gone and you resolve is entirely spent, then you will meet yourself. When all else fails, conviction is your greatest ally. Never forget: problems are temporary, tenacity is forever.

15. Going crazy is easy. Staying crazy takes commitment

Sane people are needed to run successful companies. Crazy people are needed to start them. Once you’re up and running, surround yourself with folks saner than yourself, but never relinquish the zeal that got you started; it will keep you innovating long after others have faded into obscurity.

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