How to be a successful entrepreneur

I was recently asked what books I would recommend on how to be a successful entrepreneur.

This was my response…

As far as books, I would say there is no book that can be written that can teach what it takes to be an entrepreneur. It first has to be in the person. I guess most people have it within themselves – or at least they want it in themselves, but anyone who needs a steady paycheck, is not an entrepreneur.

Knowledge, for the most part, is useless. If information and knowledge were the keys to success, then everyone who is highly educated would be successful.  But instead, many are starving because they can feel entitled to success so they sit back and wait for it to be given to them.

Most wealthy & successful entrepreneurs don’t even have a Bachelor’s degree. What it takes to succeed is having a WHITE HOT passionate desire to succeed and nothing will stop you. Anyone who says, "I'll try it out and see what happens", will fail and give up. It has to be, personal life is on hold until success! Nothing else until I succeed. NOTHING. No life whatsoever. No TV, no socializing, no family, no nothing – other than working towards the goal. The further someone gets away from that, the longer it will take and the more instances where quitting is an option.

I’ve had a lot of failed businesses and that seems to be the pattern of most highly successful people. Failure after failure for those who keep going eventually have success. Most people give up after the first failure or first obstacle. Those obstacles are like the gate keeper. A test to see if this person has what it takes to keep going or do they quit when it gets hard. In my case, I refused to give up. A failed business just meant I had to pick myself up, dust myself off, and get stable again which might include getting a job or even 2 jobs to make enough money to recover from the failed venture. After I got stable, I tried the next business and remembered all the mistakes I made in the past and made sure I didn’t make them again. I know my strengths and weaknesses and didn’t try to change them. I am who I am and what I’m not, I hire someone who has those skills.

Each entrepreneur has to accept that they will start about 10 businesses before they have their first success. In some cases more, but in rare cases, the first 1 is a homerun. But those first 9 or so failures are the education for entrepreneurs. Going to school will give you the knowledge, but nothing will give you the experience of actually running a business. It’s kind of like watching a sporting event vs having money bet on the game. When you are personally invested, you are more focused on every detail whereas if you are not, you aren’t really giving it your full attention.

You have to be willing to jump in with both feet and have no other alternative. Pursue until success – no other option. Burn your boat behind you so retreat is not an option (like the Greek warriors did when conquering new land). Move forward until success because there is no other option. Even if it takes 10+ years. Even if it takes 20 or longer. It won’t. All that time is just a test to weed out the quitters. Ask any successful person, would they do it all over again and they would cringe at all the scars they have gotten along the way and all the pain and stress. Most would find it hard to say if they would knowing how much it took out of them. How much of their youth was sacrificed. All the neglected relationships… but if you aren’t willing to, then you aren’t really an entrepreneur. You’re someone who is envious of those who did it because it looks so easy but you don’t know all the pain that led up to where they are now.

Focus on the business you start so that it consumes every waking minute of your life. It has to take all your energy and focus in the beginning for anywhere from 1 to 2 years. When a plane takes off, it doesn’t use anywhere near the same amount of power as it does when it’s coasting at 30k feet. It uses everything it’s got until it’s up in the air, on autopilot (success) and that’s when it can ease off and let momentum do most of the work.

An entrepreneur has to understand also that there is no difference between a job and creating a job as most end up doing. They start a business where it’s dependent on them forever and therefore, they just created a job for themselves. My business runs with or without me for the most part. I am only required to be in the office to pay the bills and make sure everyone else is doing their job. I could turn all that over to others and I might eventually but I have had so many people take advantage of me along the way and try to steal money so I may never give up that role to anyone outside of my family.

An entrepreneur has it in their blood to build a business. Not necessarily to run a business. Building and building and building… Once the business is built, we get bored and want to go start another one and build that.  I leave the day- to- day up to those who have employee training (college). That’s the life they chose. They want a steady paycheck and job security. So I take the risk, but I get all the rewards and if they stop building my business, I replace them. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a manager or the janitor. They are the help. They were hired to build my business and that’s the life they designed for themselves. An entrepreneur would not be able to go on under those circumstances. It’s what drives them. Create, build, and take on the risk so you have the ultimate reward of freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want. An employee doesn’t have that option.

My education came from several different sources- not many books at all. I did a lot of personal development to get me out of the mindset of, “go to school to get a higher paying job and depend on that paycheck to fund the next 2 weeks of my life.” That’s what’s drilled into the public from a young age. It’s what every politician says people should do. Go to school so you can get a higher paying job. They leave out the part where, if you get a higher paying job, you will pay more taxes to the government which is why they want you to get a formal education as it will lead to a higher paying job. Employees pay the highest percentage in taxes and without them the economy would crumble. They also have poor money management skills so as soon as they get a paycheck, what’s left over after taxes is seen as their budget until the next check. If someone makes 100k year, the government gets about 40k. They are left with 60k. But they ignore the taxes and tell people they make 100k a year. They don’t. They make 60k. But they spend as though they make 100k. I know a lot of very highly paid doctors and other professionals who are deep in debt, going broke and have to work very hard just to pay their bills. That’s how employees think.

These are all formulas for failure and almost the entire population falls into this trap.

To succeed, a person must understand that what’s been drilled into them from a young age was programming that was intentionally put there by the government. The government created the public school system and that’s where people learn how to be an employee. Most never learn money management because if the public could control their spending habits, the economy would crumble. So money management skills aren’t going to be taught to the future tax payers who we are depending on to support the economy and give their money to merchants who started a business and will then pay taxes on the money they make. It’s a perfect design to fund the government. Money keeps changing hands and each time the government takes a huge chunk – all by design. An entrepreneur has to understand how taxes work and understand how some income is good income and some income as bad. Good income is taxed at a low level (long term capital gains such as shares in a company or assets like a business). Bad income is taxed at a high level (employee wages, self-employed income, short term capital gains).

So, to succeed after someone is already an adult and has been programmed, they have to first undo a lot of the programming that was installed into them from a young age. They have to clean up the past and whatever is holding them back and get to where a future can be created without the past programming interfering and leading them down the failure path.

The path I took, and highly recommend for someone who is determined, is this…

First, there are really only two books that I would recommend.

1. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

This is the mindset needed by all entrepreneurs.

Next, reprogramming the way people think about money

2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki

Then, purchase a CD program from Robert Kiyosaki called “Choose to be Rich”. That is a CD series that has about 12 CD’s. They are broken down into 3 sections. Think it, Learn it, Do it. I didn’t care for the learn it & do it portions of these series but the Think it was GOLD.  I listened to it over and over again until my subconscious saw it as just the way to think and it became my new norm. I was evolving into a trained entrepreneur.

That will give the person the money management skills to control their income and expenses.

After those 3, go to Landmark

Take the Landmark Forum seminar. They are given every month in every major city around the world.  It’s about $400.00 for 3 ½ days and what that does is deals with a person’s past and cleans up anything that might be holding them back. I didn’t get much out of it because not much was holding me back but it’s a requirement in order to be able to take the next course which is the Advanced course.

The Advanced course is on designing your future. Now that you’ve taken the forum, your past isn’t holding you back anymore. Now you have a space where you can start from nothing and create a future. This was where I got clarity on who I am and what I want.  I immediately closed my struggling mortgage company and started designing and prusing a seminar business and buying apartment buildings which was where I had my first real success. My first apartment building came with a lot of pain as well, but it was necessary in order to be able to teach people how to make money buying apartment buildings with no money ( I had to move from beautiful Fort Lauderdale to a slum in Indianapolis. Willing to move to poverty conditions is a huge sign of “I will stop at nothing -so let me in.”  I did that when I bought my first apartment building.  I lived there for 2 months and heard gun shots and lived in filth.  For anyone willing to do that, the universe says, “Ok ok… you belong on this side of success.”  Within 2 months I went from nothing to a national speaker in demand charging 5k per person to hear me talk for 4 days.

When I gave seminars, it was 4 days.  Every “make money” seminar I went to taught knowledge and the success rate was less than 1%.  They never told anyone that statistic but I found that along the way.  My seminars were different.  I taught knowledge for the first 2 days on how to buy apartment buildings with no money at all.  At the end of the 2nd day, I told everyone, “Ok. We’re done with the knowledge portion of this course and everything you learned over the past 2 days was useless. It was a complete waste of time, for the most part.”  Every looked at me puzzled. I gave them the statics of other seminars.  I told them how knowledge is a very small, if not the smallest part, of success.  I spent all of day 3 on the mind and motivation and what it takes to succeed.  Reprogramming their mind to understand the difference between what losers do and what winners do.  I spent all of day 4 with them actually doing everything I taught them to do.  We got on the computer and called building owners. I told them what to say, and how the owners will respond.  And the owners always responded the way I expected them to.  My success rate was over 50% which was unheard of.  Because… knowledge without the mindset is completely useless and can even give you a false sense of security.  Plus, learned knowledge is eventually forgotten if not used anyway.

After Landmark, I also took some high-end seminars like Tony Robbins and Marshal Sylver. This was where I expanded my mind to do what is not reasonable. Not typical. To color outside the lines. To think differently. That’s when I started to see opportunity where others saw none. I now had the eyes to see opportunity and take advantage of it rather than letting it pass me by as it did many times.  Now I could recognize a potential business where others didn’t see the opportunity.  They didn’t have the mindset or the eyes to see what was obvious to me because I was now looking from a very different perspective.  I know had a millionaire’s mind.  I was an educated entrepreneur instead of a wannabe.

While running my seminar business I met someone who was in the pharmaceutical business. I had the eyes to see an opportunity.  I paid attention to this person telling me about their job long enough to decide I wanted to start that kind of company.

I stopped giving seminars and started a pharmaceutical company (start-up money was next to nothing because I forced my mind to figure out how it could be done for as little money as possible).  I focused all my attention on it and it was profitable within the first month of business.

It was a homerun because I knew how to recognize the opportunity, what not to do (learned from previous mistakes), what to do to ensure money was coming in to support the business and how to manage that money. I had paid my dues and now every business I start, I know how to predict the future and know if it will be a success or failure. I only start successful businesses now.

If I was right out of college, I probably wouldn’t have seen the opportunity. But if I did, I would have failed because I had no experience on what to do when the curve balls were thrown at me.  I wouldn’t have the mindset to know to anticipate obstacles and know not to quit thinking I must have made a mistake. I know those were just tests and I either kicked down or went around those obstacles and kept going. We are now 5 years into it and we are the largest (in our sector of the pharmaceutical industry) nationwide pharmaceutical distributor in the country and growing rapidly but not too fast so that we implode. I take lots of risks but they are all calculated risks.

So, the summary is… Knowledge from a book or school did not get me here. It was action and determination to succeed and the knowledge was just a tool in my tool belt. I had to succeed because the alternative was too painful… get a job and struggle to make ends meet for the rest of my life.

Anthony Minnuto