While my own entrepreneurial success has yet to be seen (give me two more years), I wanted to write about the concept of what makes an entrepreneur successful based on the experience of others. I was reading a post over on Business On Main that focused on different things that may contribute to the success of an entrepreneur. The beginning of the post has a quote from Barbara Bird, associate professor of management at American University’s Kogod School of Business. It is a brillant quote to share before we dive in.

“Entrepreneurs who prefer concrete experiments and who continually look for customer contact and feedback that can’t be absorbed through reading typically are more successful.”

Bird and J. Robert Baum, associate process of entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, developed research that focused on successful and practical intelligence when starting a business. The 5 keys to success are taken from the research, as well as, my own opinions and experience.

1. Tweak Things Constantly – In the study Bird and Baum found that most successful owners – “were consistent through the economic downturn by tweaking things, moving quickly and adjusting.” I think the stress of a downturn has the tendency of pushing business owners in a frenzy. They may be making quick decisions but they are not smart decisions. It is important to adjust everything while working in your industry in order to stay lean and competitive.

2. Be Creatively Practical – Remember that creativity and great ideas are only…. ideas… if not implemented. According to Bird it is important to “combining practical intelligence with the knowledge of how to do things comes with experience.” Experience is key when it comes to building a business but what if you don’t have the experience? I’ve found that surrounding yourself with mentors and advisors is extremely important. When it comes to being creative… a mentor can give you the practical knowledge to keep a visionary grounded (for a time). This is all done through experience and hard work.

3. There is No Such Thing As a Mistake – We know, as entrepreneurs, that constant change and tweaking is a must for the survival of a business. However, there are to many times when a business owner or employee makes a decision that is viewed as a mistake. According to Bird, “Entrepreneurs who are most successful believe that there is no such thing as a mistake. There are only experiments.”

Easier said than done right? This concept tends to be more of a mental battle than anything else.

4. Use Your Common Sense – Common sense is extremely valuable when it comes to running business. Many people may call this street sense. While it is important to be creative, it is also important to have the ability to make common sense decisions for survival. As entrepreneurs and visionaries… we tend to focus on the big idea and not the little… tiny ideas that make the BIG idea happen.

5. Know Your Market Early – “The biggest example of common sense,” says Paul Harkins of NeighborOil, “is knowing how the market will use a product very early on, before directing a company toward what you perceive is the market.” This is great advice… actually… this is excellent advice. Opinions can destroy your company. Use numbers and research to make decisions on entry into a market.

I understand that there are plenty of things that can lead to entrepreneurial success. The five listed above are only things I have learned and started implementing in my own business digital direct response company. I hope to keep learning and doing.

What do you think is key for entrepreneurial success?