Forbes: 11 Entrepreneurs Share Their ‘Secret Weapon’ For Business Success

What’s the secret to your success?” It’s one of the most commonly asked questions in the business world, and no matter who you ask, you’re going to get a different answer. Some entrepreneurs say they rely on their industry knowledge or a technical skill set, while others credit their intuition or sense of humor.

We asked 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council about their own “secret weapons” as an entrepreneur. Whether it’s a personality trait, a mindset, or a specific behavior, here’s what these business leaders keep in their back pockets at all times, and how they’ve used it to succeed.

1. Intuition And People Skills

The best startups solve really big problems by developing a theory then executing on it based on intuition and available technology. If you believe this, then the most important thing you can do as a non-technical founder is to constantly develop a deep understanding towards the needs and habits of human beings (your users). Talk to people. Find out their underlying assumptions, how they think, and what they believe. Do this enough, and you’ll be able to offer the best insight toward what direction your product should go. – Raad Ahmed, LawTrades

2. Curiosity And Resilience

Before anything else, I ask why, how, or what. Read between the lines: A customer or employee might make a simple statement, but what is behind that statement? I experiment and ask, “What would happen if…” If it doesn’t work, have the resilience to bounce back, ask more questions and try again. Trying again is key; I probably fail more than I succeed, but I learn from what didn’t work and tweak it. – Alisha Navarro, 2 Hounds Design

3. Adapting To Change

I learned early on that it’s not the smartest entrepreneurs who survive. It’s also not the ones with the most money, fame or even the best teams. The entrepreneurs who make it are the ones who are able to adapt to the most unexpected, difficult and seemingly impossible changes that occur every day. Knowing how to keep going when we are in an unpredictable world, and working with other humans who can change in an instant based on the circumstances in their lives is the best skill to have. If you know how to shift in an instant and adjust your services, your thinking, and your team to keep up with technology, the market and more, you will always succeed. – Beth Doane, Main & Rose

4. Knowing Yourself

It’s easy to forget about yourself when you’re building a business, but the irony of that is that when you aren’t at your best, neither is your work or the outcomes you generate. The more time I’ve spent getting away from work to learn and grow, to be silent in meditation, or to have fun, the clearer the pathways have been for me to hear when my gut says yes or no to something. It also makes me clearer on who the authentic version of me is, which better helps me to relate to my team, our customers and our partners, and ensure the choices we make are in alignment. – Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40

5. A Diverse Perspective

As a woman, I bring different qualities to the table as an entrepreneur. It’s helped me in various situations to better understand through intuition and emotional connection. I have a diverse knowledge set having filled various types of roles in life that male entrepreneurs may not have, which I then put into the work environment. This gives me an advantage because I see issues and situations differently, often finding solutions or unique perspectives. – Cynthia Johnson, Bell + Ivy

6. Taking Calculated Risks

I see a lot of time wasted trying to project for all possible negative outcomes. This is near impossible, and while it’s useful and important when dealing with life-and-death situations, in most cases we’re not. At the end of the day, it’s about moving forward, making mistakes and correcting them quickly. The fear and inaction is what prohibits speedy progress and iterations that get you closer to your goals. If you’re in this fearful and anxious state, you’ll almost always be able to come up with a reason to not do the thing you might need to do the most. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

7. A Non-Entrepreneurial Background

My path to entrepreneurship was an accident. I’ve always been more of a people-person than a business person, and that has proved to be a secret weapon. Because it’s so easy to remove my entrepreneur persona, I find that I don’t fall into some traps that other business owners might fall into, such as over-engineering or excessive fixation on the bottom line. My strengths as a non-entrepreneur are collaborating with my team members, not assuming I have to have all of the answers, and not getting too deeply attached to particular paths or outcomes. – Peggy Shell, Creative Alignments

8. A Constant Desire To Learn

I have made it a point to always be learning. It’s scheduled on my calendar every day, and on Saturdays, it’s the only thing on my to-do list. No matter how much you feel that you may know about leadership, business or anything else, the world is always changing, and there’s always new research and ideas. To stay ahead, you have to constantly feed your mind. Reach out to mentors, ask for help, read books, listen to podcasts and always be ready to put the things you learn into action, even if it goes against something you thought you were doing right. Stay hungry and keep learning! – Adelaida Diaz-Roa, Nomo FOMO

9. Endurance Running

As the owner of a few different businesses and someone who is naturally Type A and intense, I get stressed out quite easily and frequently. To have a clear head and maintain an even temper, I do 90-minute endurance runs two to three times per week. It’s the best way that I blow off steam and keep stress at a manageable level. – Kristin Marquet, Creative Development Agency, LLC

10. Being My Own Customer

My “secret weapon” is being the customer of my own businesses. Since we use the various plugins that we build across all of our websites, we can start sensing what features would be good to build to differentiate us from the competition. This helps us stay ahead. We go an extra step and give all of our employees our plugins for free to implement on their personal blogs. We want them to love the products, understand them, and help come up with new, innovative ideas for improvement of the products. We then take some of those ideas and implement them as features into the products. – Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

11. Treating People Like Gold

Not enough people realize the importance of treating your staff as invaluable. If you felt replaceable, with no control over your next paycheck, would you come to work early with a smile on your face and do your best to perform? Hell no. You’d be looking for another job and trying to keep your head down. Treat your employees like they make you everything you are, because in reality, they do. An organization is judged by its weakest individuals, not its strongest. How many times have you called Comcast customer service and thought, “Brian Roberts seems like a really nice guy?” It doesn’t happen. You blame the brand. I don’t agree with Simon Sinek on much, but he fully understands the employee-employer relationship from the employee’s perspective. Respect and love your team. – Ali Mahvan, Sharebert


This article was originally published on, viewed 4th January 2018

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