THE BLOG

How to Succeed in Business: the First Steps

05/30/2014 03:09 pm ET | Updated Jul 30, 2014
  • Jack Nadel Decorated WWII Veteran, Hall of Fame Entrepreneur, Founder of Jack Nadel International and featured Thrive15 Mentor

I'll begin where the majority of successful entrepreneurs begin--"follow your passion." It may be a shopworn phrase, but this advice is as valid today for how to succeed in business as it was a hundred years ago, and it has certainly proven true for me. I have been successfully following my passion for seven decades.

The word passion has a direct application to business. It means a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. A new entrepreneur will need this emotional charge to sustain his or her motivation when facing the unexpected challenges that all startups encounter. The power of personal attachment will energize you and keep the momentum going. According to one estimate, 8 out of 10 businesses fail in the first 18 months, so passion's role will likely be crucial for survival.

At age 90, I'm bold enough to speak about the importance of this topic to younger generations since I can draw from experience, not theory. Recently, I produced a new streaming video for entrepreneurs called, "How To Succeed In Business," in which I discuss why passion is such a vital factor.

Self-motivation is the key to success and will achieve powerful results.

Lately, many self-proclaimed business gurus have maligned the idea of pursuing a passion as bad advice. They dismiss it as an oversimplification, and to an extent, they are right. It is not as simple as it sounds. Clarifications and additional considerations are essential. So, what is the best way to tap into your self-motivation and start a new business? First, you need to do some self-reflection. What are your core values? What experiences have shaped you? How do you define success? Next, think of your dream job as actually a constellation of overlapping desires. Yes, you want to pursue something you love, but you also want to make a reasonable income, have time for leisure activities, save for retirement, and live where and how you want to. Along the way you will undoubtedly have to make some compromises and adjustments. It is important to recognize that career satisfaction will emanate from many sources.

Also, you need to clearly define your passion. It cannot just be a broad area. You must translate your dream of success into a series of small and large goals and differentiate them from wishes. As I wrote in my latest book, The Evolution of an Entrepreneur, "A wish might be to play point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. An achievable goal might be to work with an NBA team in their marketing department or to become a supplier to an NBA venue or retail outlet." What begins as a vague or hazy vision must then be articulated into very focused objectives that are within the scope of your abilities and finances. I've narrowed down the startup process to five sequential steps called The Nadel Method to get entrepreneurs on the right track.

In addition, here are seven goal-setting steps that I think all entrepreneurs will find useful.

• First, you must write your goals down. Otherwise, they are simply New Year's resolutions, which are soon forgotten.

• Next, be as specific as you can when writing goals. Instead of, "I want to raise my company profile in the community," write, "I will volunteer my company's resources once a month to a specific community organization."

• Express goals in positive words. Don't think about driving the competition out of business; think about how your product or service can fulfill an unmet need.

• Make sure the goals you choose are yours and not someone else's. (See motivation above.)

• Put time limits on your goals. How else can you hold yourself accountable?

• Give yourself a score at the end of your timeframe. If you didn't succeed, do you want to keep trying for this goal or do you need to make some alterations?

• And finally, set goals in all areas of your life. You need to stay balanced to be truly happy. Your emotional and physical health is as important as your financial health.

Keep an open mind about following your passion. Be flexible. Don't assume you will hit the center of the target on your first try. Once you embark on your business idea, you may discover business categories you never knew existed that can relate to following your passion. For example, the emerging technology of 3D printing has created a slew of new entrepreneurial opportunities that weren't even possible two years ago for a variety of industries. With a modest investment of under $5,000, a budding entrepreneur can start a 3D printing business that can provide multiple applications, whether it be crafting custom wearable designs or creating vintage auto parts. According to both to Forbes and Business News Daily, the concept of 3D printing-as-a-service franchise is about to go mainstream.

Overall, be willing to learn from your mistakes. I sometimes think we should declare a national holiday to honor the errors we make because this is how all of us learn. Mistakes are a key element of growth and success, especially for new entrepreneurs. Those who ignore the lessons mistakes teach us won't stay in business for long.

And don't overlook the many helpful resources for new and existing business owners. For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration has Small Business Development Centers in all fifty states and supports thousands of S.C.O.R.E. volunteer mentors nationwide, not to mention the national focus they bring to light each May with various events for entrepreneurs through the SBA's coordinated efforts for Small Business Week in cities from coast to coast. In addition, there are useful tools offered by service providers who genuinely want to see you succeed. I just recently learned that Visa has an entire division focused on supporting and promoting small business ownership through Visa Small Business, after they decided to feature several of my Huffington Post articles on entrepreneurship through their social media.

And lastly, never forget that you live and do business in a community. Temper your sense of "rugged individualism" with an appreciation for the roles others play in helping you pursue your passion. Create a business that is uniquely yours, but also find a way for your business to contribute to the well being of your community. As Thomas Watson of IBM once said, "To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart."

As I've indicated many times, I am strongly motivated to share insights about my entrepreneurial success, and I likewise encourage you to share your tips for success. You will never know the people you might be helping, but by sharing, you will be validating your own passion, and your enthusiasm for entrepreneurship will deepen.

Jack Nadel is the author of the award-winning book, "The Evolution of an Entrepreneur: Featuring 50 of My Best Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Business" - winner of five Global Ebook Awards including three Gold Awards for BEST in Business, Leadership and Careers/Employment - part of the popular Ultimate Crash Course for Entrepreneurs set, available on-demand online (www.JackNadel.com). He is the founder and chairman emeritus of Jack Nadel International, a global leader in the specialty advertising and marketing industry. Jack, founder of more than a dozen companies worldwide, is also the author of other books, including, "There's No Business Like Your Bu$iness, How to Succeed in Business Without Lying, Cheating or Stealing," "Cracking the Global Market," and "My Enemy, My Friend."