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It’s the question that everyone who goes into business asks themselves.

Many say that it’s a combination of hard work, determination, and luck.  I’d say that those things play a part – with the exception of luck.  I don’t really believe in it.  I believe in God who opens some doors and closes others.

But if you’re trying to start a business, it’s a given that you’re gonna work hard and be determined.

So the question remains.  And I believe it’s more than hard work and determination.  There are certain characteristics that you need to have in order to succeed.

But in order to get to that, we have to define “success”.  Again, I take a different view of this than many.  Most would say success is making  a lot of money.  I agree that’s part of it, because, hey, I’m not naïve – for a business to survive, it’s gotta have revenue.

But you’ve gotta have a mindset that sets success in different terms – impacting the world, solving problems, giving of yourself to help others, changing a paradigm.

The following list is what sets entrepreneurs apart who are truly successful.

I believe in #God who opens some doors and closes others. Click To Tweet

1. Entrepreneurs who Succeed Create Value in their Work, Not just in Terms of Money

old machineryValue in your work means that whatever product you produce or service your provide is useful to people.

Get-rich-quick schemes and other selfish endeavors completely miss this.  When it’s all about the business owner’s selfish gains, it’s not valuable work.

And so this one is also true for people who are not entrepreneurs:  the chemist who is developing a new antibiotic to stop dangerous infections, the community advocate who lobbies for a vulnerable population, the historian who writes so that we can see the errors made in history so that we don’t repeat them again.

Likewise, your business is supposed to be valuable in terms of how useful it is to make people’s lives better.

So ask yourself whether you’re providing value to people or just monetary value to yourself.

2. Entrepreneurs who Succeed Actively Seek out Problems to Fix

I’ve stopped asking my children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”.

Instead, I ask, “What problems do you want to solve in the world?”.

It’s a fundamentally different way of looking at vocation.  Instead of encouraging a self-focused career, it’s encouraging an outward-focus.  It’s about serving. (More on this in this past article.)

Entrepreneurs who succeed have this drive to look for problems to fix.  Not just stumble across a cool idea and then see how it helps people.  They actively seek out problems.

First of all, they will provide a service/product which hasn’t been done before (innovation) and will potentially bring in a lot of money due to being the first one to market.

But secondly, and more importantly, it causes the entrepreneur to provide a service which is valuable to others, going back to #1.

3. Entrepreneurs who Succeed Don’t Let Criticism Bring them Down

succeedSubmitting to the will of your critics is nothing less than the fear of man.  Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”

It’ a snare!  A trap!

That’s the Bible, so it’s God’s Words.  But there are also practical reasons why you should not let others’ criticism stop you.

Most criticism comes from misunderstanding.

The fact is that most people view starting a business to be as risky walking a tightrope between two skyscrapers.  Most people don’t understand how attainable entrepreneurism actually is.  And how important your idea is to making a valuable change.

They don’t understand that the risk is worth it.

So of course they’re gonna try and talk you out of it.  They don’t say it like this, but in their head, they’re thinking, “It would never work for me, and so it won’t work for you.  I’m going to say whatever I have to to get you to stop.”

Don’t let them stop you.  They don’t see your vision, your determination, and your resourcefulness.

Don’t fear them.

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4. Entrepreneurs who Succeed Don’t Quit after a Failure, No Matter How Big

Failures are not just isolated events that impact your business.  They impact you.

They make you doubt the abilities God has given you.  They make you depressed.  They give everyone around you fuel for those I-told-you-so’s.

garage vanFailures are embarrassing and demoralizing.

The important thing is to remember who you are in Christ.  You’ve become a child of God, heir of God, co-heir with Christ, Abraham’s seed, heir(ess) according to the promise.  You’ve been adopted to sonship in God’s family.

If you can remember these things in the dark times of failure, then you’ll be ready to hear what Paul said in Philippians 3, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Yes, Paul was talking specifically of overcoming sins and instead pushing on in light of God’s Promises, and you have no promises concerning the financial success of your business.

But the point is that failure is not the end.  If God has called you to be an entrepreneur, then keep going.  Do what he made you to do.

5. Entrepreneurs who Succeed Trust in Jesus, Not in Wealth or Strategy

The best tactics and advisor board will never guarantee success.

And the fact is that you might never run a financially successful business.

But we must remember 2 quotes that I will leave you with.  One from Jesus and one from Paul.

Jesus:  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?… But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Paul:  “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

The message:  don’t worry, and do good works.  Trust in God.  He will care for you, no matter what happens to your business.

Success does not rely on a good strategy.  It relies on the blessings of God.


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Also published on Medium.