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Top Ten Lessons for an Entrepreneur

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Naveen Jain
Naveen Jain
Founder and CEO, 
Intelius
I've been an entrepreneur most of my adult life. Recently, on a long business flight, I began thinking about what it takes to become successful as an entrepreneur and how I would even define the meaning of ‘success’ itself. The two ideas became more intertwined in my thinking: success as an entrepreneur, entrepreneurial success. I've given a lot of talks over the years on the subject of entrepreneurship. The first thing I find I have to do is to dispel the persistent myth that entrepreneurial success is all about innovative thinking and breakthrough ideas. I've found that entrepreneurial success usually comes through great execution, simply by doing a superior job of doing the blocking and tackling.
But what else does it take to succeed as an entrepreneur and how should an entrepreneur define success?

Bored with the long flight, sinking deeper into my own thoughts, I wrote down my own answers to send to my kids. Here's what I came up with:
The ‘Top Ten List’ for a budding entrepreneur

* You must be ‘passionate’ about what you are trying to achieve. That means you’re willing to sacrifice a large part of your waking hours to the idea you’ve come up with. This passion will ignite the same intensity in the others who join you as you build a team to succeed in this endeavor. And with passion, both your team and your customers are more likely to truly believe in what you are trying to do.

* Great entrepreneurs ‘focus’ intensely on an opportunity where others see nothing. This focus and intensity helps eliminate wasted effort and distractions. Most companies die from indigestion rather than starvation, i.e. companies suffer from doing too many things at the same time rather than doing a few things very well. Stay focused on the mission.

* Success only comes from ‘hard work’. We all know that there is no such thing as overnight success. Behind every overnight success lies years of hard work and sweat. People with luck will tell you that there’s no easy way to achieve success ? and that luck comes to those who work hard. Successful entrepreneurs always give 100 percent of their efforts to everything they do. If you know you are giving your best effort, you’ll never have any reason for regrets. Focus on things you can control; stay focused on your efforts and let the results be what they will be.

* The road to success is going to be long, so remember to ‘enjoy the journey’. Everyone will teach you to focus on goals, but successful people focus on the journey and celebrate the milestones along the way. Is it worth spending a large part of your life trying to reach the destination if you didn’t enjoy the journey along the way? Won’t the team you attract to join you on your mission also enjoy the journey more as well? Wouldn’t it be better for all of you to enjoy the time of your life during the journey, even if the destination is never reached?
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