What makes a successful entrepreneur? What do they do that ‘differentiates’ them from the rest? What do you need to do to make it all work for you? Well, obviously there are many things but my experience of working with thousands of successful business people and entrepreneurs suggests that a key factor for success is how and where they focus their time and efforts.

In this article I’m going to highlight how the ‘best performers’ focus on making sure that the vast majority of their time and effort is spent in 3 key areas and how you can do the same.

The 3 Key Factors for Entrepreneurial Success

I meet lots of entrepreneurs who are incredibly busy, I meet lots who love what they do. They’re upbeat, they’re happy and they’re ‘delivering’! I also meet lots that are ‘struggling’, they’re frustrated, they’re unhappy and they’re definitely not enjoying it!

What do the successful ones have in common? Well, among many characteristics, one that I see consistently in entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey from pre-start up and start up through going for growth and on to successful ‘established’ businesses is that they do…

  • The Things They Are Good At
  • The Things They Enjoy Doing…..and
  • The Things That Make An Impact In The Areas That Count!

The key is getting a good balance of these three areas – You can hopefully see it explained in the graphic below:

3 Key Factors for Entrepreneurial Success Diagram entrepreneurial success Focusing Your Time And Effort - 3 Key Factors For Entrepreneurial Success 3 key factors for entrepreneurial success

The challenge is to consciously work on getting the balance of all 3 and be in your ‘Ideal Zone’, which is not always easy. However, it’s crucial that you do try, because if you only have 2 out of the 3, then these are the things that typically happen (Recognise any of them?)….

If you only…

  • Do The Things You’re Good At and The Things You Enjoy Doing then that’s just ‘Good Fun’ and it’s not sustainable in the long term – you and your business will fail – you have to ‘deliver’!
  • Do Things You’re Good At and The Things That Make An Impact In The Areas That Count you’ll get bored and dis-interested (sooner or later – often ‘sooner’!) and things will often ‘not get done’, or will get done badly.
  • Do Things You Enjoy and Make An Impact In The Areas That Count you may well make it work, but you’ll probably get frustrated, have to work extremely hard at doing it, and the quality might not be that high.

The challenge is to get a balance and do as much as you can that is in that ‘Ideal Zone’. Obviously, you can’t be in that ‘ideal’ zone all the time but it is something to aim for! Not every part of your job can be doing only the things that fit in all 3 areas, but the majority of it should be if possible. For example, if you’re good at selling, enjoy it, and it delivers results in the right areas, then gear your role around that. Get others (train others) to do the stuff that don’t fit in all 3 areas to free you up to do it.

When working with leaders, I encourage them to evaluate how and where they spend their time, and how much of it is in that ‘Ideal Zone’ and what they need to do to get the balance right.

Here are some guidelines and suggestions to help you get in the ‘Ideal Zone

Step 1: Establish The Things That Make An Impact

This is all about thinking ‘strategically’ and identifying what you and your business needs to do to achieve its goals and targets. A starting point may well be to establish what those goals and targets are!

3 questions:

  • Do you have a clear ‘vision’?
  • Have you identified the ‘priority’ areas?
  • How much of your time is spent working ‘On’ these issues?

Step 2: Establish The Things You Are Good At

Identify your ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’. Write down a list of your ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’ and use this to shape what you should be doing and when you do it.

We can’t all be good at everything. Acknowledge your ‘weaknesses’ and either try and get better at them if they are ‘critical’ to your role or consider delegating or outsourcing them. Consider this when recruiting others – don’t automatically recruit people like you – find people who can ‘compensate’ for your weaknesses and do things that you’re not so good at.

It’s also worth considering whether there are some things that you simply have to get ‘good at’, especially if they are the ‘things that make an impact’!

3 more questions:

  • What are you good at?
  • How much of your time is spent working on areas that are ‘maximising’ the things that you are good at?
  • Are there some things you need to get ‘Good at’?
  • (Bonus question: How do you ‘know’? Maybe you should find out what others think – go on, ask them!)

Step 3: Establish The Things That You Enjoy Doing

This is all about doing the things that you are passionate about, and that give you a thrill and a sense of purpose. Often, it’s the things that got you started in business in the first place. How much of your time is spent doing the things you love? How much of it is on the things you don’t like or even, hate?

Of course, there are going to be tasks that you have to do and don’t enjoy, but are there things you ‘dislike’ or ‘hate’ that someone else can do (better?) Consider getting others to do it, sub-contracting / outsourcing it…. particularly if these are key things that make an impact and are critical to your business success.

So, 3 more questions:

  • What do you ‘love’ doing?
  • What do you ‘hate’ doing?
  • What do you need to do to increase the ‘love’ and reduce / eliminate the ‘hate’?

In summary…

So, in summary, your challenge is to try and focus the majority of your time on..

  • The Things That You Are Good At
  • The Things You Enjoy Doing…and
  • The Things That Make An Impact In The Areas That Count

Are you doing that and if you’ve got people who work for you, are they?

Andy Hanselman

Andy Hanselman

Business Consultant

Andy Hanselman helps businesses and their people create competitive advantage by  ‘Thinking in 3D’! That means being ‘Dramatically and Demonstrably Different’! As a recognised expert on business competitiveness, he has spent over 25 years researching speaking about, writing about, and working with successful fast growth businesses.

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