secrets of successful entrepreneurs

Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs

The Internet has made building and running a business far more accessible than it used to be. Anyone can cheaply and easily build a website, set up shop quickly in a global marketplace, and work from home in their pajamas. So here’s a selection of the secrets of successful entrepreneurs that I have learned over my 20s.

As an entrepreneur, I can tell you what a fulfilling career it is. I’m 29 today and I built my first business when I was 21. This is why, like many of my millennial pals, I can’t imagine working for someone else. Though I did initially. As many entrepreneurs do, I worked a 9 to 5 job (until I was 26) while building my own businesses on the side.

secrets of successful entrepreneurs

The view from my office.

So, I remember what it was like to… Have someone else rule my financial destiny. Wake up at 5am for a one-hour (sometimes two-hour) commute to the office. Request permission for time off. Ugh!

I also remember how creatively starved I felt. I had to defer to the higher-ups to make key decisions. They ultimately controlled the destiny of the business.

These are some of the reasons many people switch to entrepreneurship:

The lifestyle allows you to be fully self-expressed in your career. It provides you full ownership of your time and money. And, there is no roof on your income potential! All of these are priceless.

But, if you choose the entrepreneurial route, step into it with your eyes wide open. Its has its challenges.
For wannabe entrepreneurs, and those in the throes of building a business, there are pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. Follow the rules below to fast track to business ownership success:


Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs

Build a war chest

Having little money to support yourself is a surefire way to get in action fast, but it’s extremely stressful. Financial stress is debilitating. It will impact your ability to make smart choices for your business. You may find yourself making decisions based on fast-money versus thinking about what the business needs. Too many people quit their jobs before their business is stable.
That being said, it can be tough and exhausting to work in a high-pressure role for another company while building a business.

Before you jump into entrepreneurship, ensure you have an ample war chest, or build it around a full-time job. Make sure you have an income or structure that supports basic survival needs. At a minimum, you need to have enough money to cover housing, an Internet connection (of course), a mobile phone, groceries, and transportation expenses like a car, subway, bike or bus, etc. The private jet comes later!

Don’t expect overnight success

Successful entrepreneurs can make running a business look glamorous and easy. Ever watch an ad for a webinar about becoming an entrepreneur? They show scenarios like this: A millennial entrepreneur stands in front of a giant mansion with a pool, his laptop at his side. He shares a story about how he has automated his business. He makes millions and spends his time traveling the world.

While this life is possible for entrepreneurs, what’s left out of this story is the time it takes to build a successful business, and the struggles most entrepreneurs go through.

Similar to many of my entrepreneur friends, when I built my first business I had a bit of a “build it and they will come” mentality. I created a beautiful website, got some fancy business cards and started hitting networking events.

But I soon found that clients weren’t flocking to me as I had envisioned. It was my first hard lesson in the importance of learning about my target market first and doing more work to build a killer brand that would attract the right people.

Rarely are new businesses overnight successes. It takes time and a great deal of determination. Many entrepreneurs fail because they aren’t patient. Entrepreneurship requires mental toughness, immovable resilience and a granite-chiselled conviction to succeed.

A great idea for a new company is easy to churn out. However, the real work is creating a business that serves an unmet market. You may discover you need to tweak your initial strategy, sometimes many times over before you hit growth and revenue that will support your dream life (or frankly that even pays the rent or mortgage).

A business can take years to build, even when you’re following the advice of experts and doing all the right things. Be patient, determined and believe in yourself.

Be flexible and adapt your plan

Businesses sometimes fail because the person running the company is an artist or creator and not a true entrepreneur. To succeed you need to be both business-minded and creative. You need to be willing to do the books, create the products, build a team and hire people, open the mail and be social media savvy all at once!

Like most entrepreneurs, you may find that some of these jobs are not your strengths. And worse, you’ll hate doing a few of them. For instance, I handle the books for the digital marketing agency my husband and I own, and I don’t particularly enjoy it. But it’s a requirement for the business, and I like saving the money and being involved knowing what’s going on in the company finances.

You also need to be a strategist. That means deciding and choosing what the business needs by listening to what your customers need, not what you want to create. These are two very different approaches.

For example, let’s say you want to run a successful clothing boutique. You create a target market, then purchase an initial inventory of clothing that you love and think will be great. Now, you can be an artist and continue to buy items you like, or you could pay attention to what the hot items are selling, and buy more of those. Too bad if you don’t like the in colors or fashion trends. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring your own flare to the inventory you buy, just make sure it also moves off the shelves and keeps you in business.

Entrepreneurs are willing to crush all their notions and ideas about how their business should work. They let the business lead. They take themselves out of the equation.

Be 100% responsible

Young entrepreneurs often look at business as an easy way to make money in their sleep while they spend their time having fun. And yes, this is part of the beauty of living the entrepreneurial lifestyle.
However, it’s important to remember that even if you automate your business and free up your time, you’re the one in charge.

You always need to be the visionary behind business and, to think ahead. This is true even if you done a great job setting the business up so it runs without you. When your business is doing well, you must consider what it needs to stay doing well, or how it could do better. When it is struggling, you need to double your resolve and get through the hard times.

As an entrepreneur, you pay you. This is both exciting, as you have ultimate control over your financial destiny, and scary. It’s on you, and only you, that ensures the success of the business.

Find a mentor

If you want to build a successful business and you’ve never done it before, seek out a mentor. Look for someone who has a proven track record for success, and choose someone you trust.

I can guarantee that wouldn’t be in business today if it wasn’t for the mentors and life coaches I’ve had along the way. Think of it this way: An Olympic-level athlete would never train for a competition without a coach. It’s the same thing in business.

Your mentor may be someone you hire and get coached by. Or it could be a collection of online experts you follow and learn from. A mentor is paramount for your success as an entrepreneur. Building a business can be a lonely, frightening and confusing process. A mentor will teach and guide you. Use them to answer questions and bounce ideas off.

Find a incredible business person who is willing to be your mentor and suck all the business marrow out of them. For many successful business owners getting to coach a newbie entrepreneur is a joy. They’ll be as grateful to you as you are to them.

Mastermind your way to success

Surround yourself with a group of entrepreneurs by joining or creating a mastermind group. It might be a group made up of local entrepreneurs that meets weekly in your community. Or it could be an online group that meets in forum or on a weekly Skype call.

When I recently found myself stuck in my business I remembered what I learned from a mentor: “go to your community”. I realized that in the new area I’ve recently moved to, I didn’t have a group of entrepreneurial friends. So I quickly made some requests and connect through social media. It doesn’t have to be complicated to get a few like-minded people together.

A mastermind group can provide a weekly accountability structure; a way to make sure you meet the targets you set for yourself. It also gives you a platform to ask questions, share ideas and resources, and learn from other entrepreneurs.

Learn digital marketing basics

Entrepreneurial success requires basic literacy in digital know-how. This is true, even if you hire an agency to build your website, run your email campaigns, or drive traffic to your website. Third parties care less about your business than you do, so understanding the mechanics of digital marketing and hiring experts to execute the strategy is key to your success.

You will save a great deal of money if you learn how to do the simple things like:

● Build a WordPress site from a template.
● Record a video on your mobile phone and edit it.
● Set up an email sales funnel and landing pages.
● Write enticing sales copy.


At minimum, you’ll need to learn how to write great blog content, and use social media platforms to promote your business.

Find a digital marketing savvy friend to school you. Or seek out online experts or groups. Take an online course. Watch tutorials on Youtube. Learn digital marketing so your business stands a chance of being seen.

Use failure to succeed

Building a business is a process. You won’t do everything perfectly. Be okay with mistakes and failure, and understand that failure is a gateway to success. The more you fail, the more you can tweak your strategy, and the closer you get to learning what works.

When you accept failure as part of the process, and not something that can stop you, you’ll be on your way to great success.

Yes, there are times when running your own business will be confusing, challenging and frustrating. Find comfort in knowing that these tiny hurdles along the way are part of the process. Believe in yourself and keep going.

Being an entrepreneur with all its challenges is an incredible livelihood. It allows you to be self-expressed in your career. You get to be in complete control of your financial destiny. And, you get to live the life of your dreams.

Listen to the audio version of this post with additional insights. Download the mp3 here. 

unconscious thoughts

How to be aware of unconscious thoughts controlling your behavior

Have you ever wondered how to be more aware of unconscious thoughts controlling your behavior?

Well, first off, in any instance where you want to be more aware of what your subconscious thoughts are, get quiet, get still and listen to your inner voice.

You can learn a lot from being quiet, separating yourself from the action of your life and listening to what you have to say to, well, you!

Any time you are exhibiting a negative behavior that’s not how you want to be, there are two questions you can ask yourself that will help you delve deep and find out what you’re really dealing with.

Because, you see, humans are survival based and we go to great lengths to protect ourselves. We even lie and play tricks with ourselves sometimes. So, it helps to have a conversation with yourself and ask yourself what’s really going on.

Simply ask yourself the two questions below…

How to be more aware of the unconscious thoughts controlling your behavior

When you have a negative behavior you’d like to change you want to ask yourself:

Question 1: What am I being fake about in this instance? 

In other words, you want to get to what the underlying feeling, desire or fear is that is causing you to behave in a way you don’t want. You want to define what you’re pretending.

Then ask yourself…

Question 2: What am I trying cover up?

This is the reason for why you’re being fake about something. It’s the deep dark secret you’re trying to protect.

Here’s an example of a time I used this to get to the bottom of negative behavior I I was dealing with. It will help to illustrate how this can be used…


I had too much to do. My son was at home and needing my attention. And I had a lot of work projects to complete. The house was messy and it needed a clean among other housekeeping chores. And, I also had a few things I wanted to do for myself, such as go for a run.

I found myself feeling overwhelmed and I was taken by this emotion. There was no clarity. And I kept saying: “I have too much to do and I don’t know what to do”.  Despite my state of overwhelm, I recognized it as an negative emotion that I deal with a lot of the time.

So, I stopped, got quiet and asked myself these questions.

Question 1: What am I being fake about in this instance?

My internal answer: It’s not that I’m being fake about overwhelm because I really do feel that I am. But, I keep saying “I don’t know what to do”. That’s not true at all. That’s where I’m being inauthentic. I’m a master of organizing tasks and managing multiple things and have all the tools to do so.

Then I ask myself question 2…

Question 2: What am I trying cover up?

My state of confusion of “I don’t know what to do” is covering up the fact that I’m just tired and I want to use overwhelm and confusion to let myself off the hook to be responsible around doing anything.

What’s authentic for me here is that I’m tired and I have a lot to do and that I know how to manage it all. And when I have this revelation I feel calm and at peace. I realize I know what to do to manage my day, but that I also recognize I need to really relax and take a long break very soon.

Get real with yourself about what’s really going on

This process of asking and searching for the answers to these two questions allows you to get real with yourself about what’s really going on. When you’re willing to be honest, you will gain calm and clarity over anything you’re dealing with.

These are the best two questions to go to when you want to get to the root of a consistent negative behavior.

How to overcome feelings of sadness

I’m often asked this question through the “Ask Kay” portal: When I feel sad how are some ways I can overcome this emotion? Here is my answer…

Sadness is natural and good and important an emotion to feel. It has its time and place, and it’s critical you let yourself  be sad when you need to instead of trying to distract yourself or avoid it.

Though, it doesn’t feel good to be sad for a really long time, so its natural to want to feel better as fast as possible.

Before you do anything, you might want to ask yourself: Why do I feel sad?

Listen to your internal answer to that question and then before you do anything accept how you feel. Accepting and acknowledging your authentic feelings is the first step in moving past them. You want to acknowledge how you feel, give yourself the clearance be okay with it, and then make a conscious choice to overcome it.

Sometimes you simply want to allow your self to be sad. Some people aren’t very good at doing this. They’ve learned to push this emotion away. But, there are times when it’s important and necessary to cry and sulk for a bit. So, you may want to let yourself do that first.

Nevertheless, here are some simple ways you can overcome feelings of sadness easily.

How to overcome feelings of sadness

1.Be grateful. You can’t be sad when your grateful. These two emotions can’t be felt at the same time. So a quick way to feel better is to be grateful.

How to overcome feelings of sadnessTake a moment to close your eyes and think of one or more things you are grateful for. It can be as simple as the heart beating in your chest or the tree outside. Gratitude is an easy way to get happy.

2.Go be with people. Spending time in an environment surrounded by people or actively engaged with people is often a great way to get happy. Interactions with people stimulate dopamine in the brain.

3.Go for a run or do some high intensity aerobic activity. Once again, this stimulates happy brain chemicals that last for hours after you workout.

4.Uncover the fear underlying the sadness. All intense emotions are rooted in fear. If you ask yourself: What’s the fear underlying these sad feelings, it can help you gain some clarity on the root of the cause of what’s making you sad. And sometimes, simply being aware of this can help you overcome it.

5. Create something to look forward to in your near future. Plan to do something you love later that day or in a few days, and then focus on that thing. Any time you start to feel sad again shift your thoughts to the fun time to come in your near future.

Ask yourself: Why do I feel sad? Then, listen to your answer. Once you define what’s causing the emotion you’ll be better able to decide what you need to deal with it.


How to beat procrastination

How to to beat procrastination once and for all

Let’s face it, putting off the tasks you need to do to get in action so that you can get the results you are are looking for, and your dreams realized, is one of the top battles we have with ourselves. So dominating procrastination is critical to living a productive your life. Here are five experts on procrastination who have the best tips to deal with this dream killer and to help you once and for all get in action.

Apprentice with an expert procrastination beater

Apprentice with a master

The website doesn’t just have one key procrastination tip, but 11. The site is full of all kinds of life hacks, but we love #5 and #8 because it calls on the skills of other people who have mastered procrastination to train you. Once upon a time if you wanted to learn a skill you’d seek out a master. This was true for trades. You find a master electrician and apprentice under him. Or pledge fealty to a master chef and convince her to take you under her wing. The training was free but your master would keep the fruits of your labor. You would live with them, be fed by them, clothed, and perhaps you’d receive a small stipend. Today you no longer have to pledge your allegiance body and soul to them, still the best way to pick up a great habit or learn a tactic to is to apprentice with someone. Either formally ask them to train you or informally hang out with them and learn to copy their behaviors. See all 11 tips here. 

Do the worst task firsthate doing paperwork or tatxes



This tip at is one of our favorites as it gets the worst out of the way. You simply choose the most unpleasant or difficult task on your list and get to it. It’s not the only awesome time on this site, but a series of great procrastination beating tips that you’ll really find useful. I love what the author of the book The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Things Done has to say about getting the worst item on your list done. It’s pure genius and makes a whole lot of sense from a psychological perspective. Here are  all the tips from RealSimple: How to stop procrastinating


Use the two-minute rule to knock if off your list

Cross it off the to do list
For those of you who need a visual step by step guide to beating procrastination, then you’ll find utility in this post from Scan your list and see if there are any quick win tasks, like taking out the garbage, or changing the toner in the printer. They should take more than two minutes. Then get it done now…it will make you feel like you have made progress on your list and it will empower you to attack the bigger tasks, there’s nothing more satisfying than a line through an item that you’ve been putting off on your to-do list.   We also like tip 4 and LOVE tip 5. Just don’t dwell on tip 5 for too long! How to Stop Procrastinating