Find Success by Thinking Like an Entrepreneur

Jan 24, 2019

By Mark Hopkins

Most of us find ourselves on a career path determined largely by the influential people in our lives (parents, friends, colleagues) and by a market space that we have become familiar with. If this process has resulted in a life experience that finds you jumping out of bed because you can’t wait to get to work, you are in the minority. A recent survey found that 60% of the 26,000 Americans they asked claimed that they would like to choose a new career. 

I’ve spent the last two years interviewing the other 40%—the people who are happy with where their careers have taken them. I isolated the happiest, most prosperous people in this group and looked for the common career paths and behaviors that help explain their success. I struck out on identifying the best career paths. It turns out that there are happy and prosperous people everywhere.

What I did find was that the most satisfied individuals share a common set of habits. These people tended to enjoy learning. They had developed a high level of expertise within an area that they were passionate about. And whether they work in small or large organizations, they bring an entrepreneur’s approach to their work. They aren’t satisfied by the status quo, bring a high level of energy to their work, and attract highly competent people to help them explore new ideas to better serve the markets they are passionate about.

You, too, can be as happy and as prosperous as an entrepreneur, by adopting their strategies:

  1. Build Your Own Prosperity Cycle: Pursuing prosperity means breaking trail rather than following the crowd. This approach requires self-confidence and an abundance of personal motivation. Harness the energy generated by successive cycles of focused effort and exhilarating personal achievement.
  2. Exploit Your Natural Curiosity: Successful entrepreneurs exploit opportunities that others don’t see, using solutions based on insight that others don’t have. Where does their superior insight come from? From indulging their natural curiosity and delving into the minutiae that determine the effectiveness of a solution.
  3. Know Thyself: Prosperity enables you to apply your passions, personal strengths, and values to work that is personally satisfying and fun while providing the financial resources to experience your envisioned life. Taking the time to understand your unique strengths, values, and passions is key to finding prosperity.  Doing work that you love and are pre-wired to excel at usually leads to financial success as well.
  4. Build Creative Tension: Creative tension is an extremely productive force created within anyone who has undertaken an honest assessment of their own current reality and compared it to a personal vision of the life of their dreams. Creative tension works in the background of our daily activities to motivate actions that help move us toward our personal vision.
  5. Learn from the Best People and Organizations: Malcolm Gladwell nailed it when he said it takes 10,000 hours to develop a differentiating level of skill in anything; but it only works if you are learning the right skills from the right instructors. Confirm your life’s passion and accelerate your development of world class skills by going to work for an organization that will teach you the essence of what it has invested hundreds of thousands of hours to understand.
  6. Earn an “I Can Do Anything Attitude”: Being a pioneer is scary. Doing something that may or may not be successful is scary. But that is where you have to go if you are pursuing prosperity. Gain the confidence that you need by looking behind the wizard’s curtain and learning the tricks that allow him to appear gifted. Then find the coach who will help you do the same.
  7. Recognize and Quickly Analyze Opportunities: Successful entrepreneurs have learned to see and analyze the opportunities that stream by all of us every day—and they do it in real time. I call this being an entrepreneurial actuary. The trick is to embrace your inner rebel by throwing conventional thinking out the window so you can see needs and opportunities. Then learn to quickly estimate market sizes and the rough costs of products and services that address the need.
  8. Genuinely Care About Other People: Pursuing prosperity is a team sport, because not much worth achieving can be accomplished by yourself. Care about others because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it builds a very rare commodity—trust. Teams built on a foundation of trust have much higher levels of productivity and are more fun to work in.
  9. Partner Wisely and Broadly: Your choice regarding a life partner or business partner can either put you on the fast track to achieving your personal vision or make it a virtual impossibility. The right partner helps you hone your vision and offset your weaknesses, and gives you the confidence to believe you might just get this damn thing done. The wrong partner’s attitude and negative forays into the irrelevant will suck the energy from the room and your mojo with it.
  10. Find a Mentor, or Three: An experienced mentor can take the pie-in-the-sky vision that you are hesitant to even say out loud and, through experience and personal example, lead you to the point where you can see yourself making it happen. To augment your mentors, build a database of guides who don’t need to know you as well as a mentor, but can easily provide advice within their specific areas of expertise.

Can a motivated individual develop these habits? Of course. Every one of the entrepreneurs I talked to managed to do it, and they had to figure it out on their own. Each of them it started by making a decision to make a change. And that change led to the next, and the next, and the next. In fact, I think a lot of their satisfaction comes from the fact that their quest for success is never over; it’s just the end of one learning cycle and the beginning of another.

What’s your next quest?

Continue your path to success with these AMA seminars:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Signature Edition 4.0

How to Use Design Thinking to Innovate Faster, Better and More Effectively

About the Author(s)

Mark Hopkins is the author of Shortcut to Prosperity: 10 Entrepreneurial Habits and a Roadmap for an Exceptional Career. For more information, please visit