Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

The 4 Embers of the Entrepreneurial Fire While these cornerstones can be hard to live by, they are what makes entrepreneurs successful.

By David Los Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The difference between a Silicon Valley icon and the employee next door isn't funding -- most of the time it isn't even the idea -- it's the entrepreneurial fire within.

Yet, more often than not, the entrepreneurial flame is extinguished just as quickly as it was lit. So how do you feed the fire?

Related: 50 Reasons to Start Your Own Business

The list of advice one can get online is endless. However, there are some crucial, fundamental words of wisdom. While these cornerstones can be hard to live by, and even harder to remain steadfast to, they are what makes entrepreneurs successful.

1. Execute

Thinking should help drive, not hinder, action. Don't think too much. Don't plan too much. Just execute.

Entrepreneurs and startup founders tend to get lost in their own heads, especially in the initial phase of the business. Legitimate questions end up freezing founders and plaguing them with self-doubt.

"Will it work?" "What happens if I don't get funded in the middle of the project?" "What price should I set?" I say replace "What if?" with "Let's find out."

2. Listen to the market

While execution is extremely important, it's also important to listen to what the market sees value in and adjust accordingly. Offerings that answer a market need and/or solve an industry pain point are the most successful.

To be clear, I'm not talking about "pivoting" (do you hate that buzzword as much as I do?). I'm talking about making your product better by responding to the market.

Continuous improvement requires constant dialogue, so as you execute and try things, keep listening. Ask your clients what they need and how you can help, and keep optimizing your product.

Related: The 8-Step Battle Plan to Succeed as an Entrepreneur

3. Think simple -- less is more

Don't try to become IKEA right out of the gate. Over time, you can extend your offerings and product features, but always be aware of what your core added value is to the market and do it to your absolute best.

As you gain traction in the marketplace and establish yourself with your target audience, refer back to numbers one and two. Listen to the market. Is there another need you are uniquely well poised to address? If so, execute.

4. Hire employees who are smarter than you

I know from experience that the previous three lessons are integral to entrepreneurial success, but you can't push a mountain alone. The best leaders are those who know their weaknesses and build teams to augment their strengths.

Hire people who believe in your vision, who are willing to fight with you in all weather and circumstances -- they are there to help you push the mountain.

Someone may listen and hear something you miss or be better at activating different parts of the business than you. Find these people and make them part of your business -- more ears and more hands translate to more success.

The entrepreneurial spirit is exactly that -- spirit. It requires one stays committed to his or her idea, be willing to try things out, accept criticism and potentially fail (as I, and most other successful entrepreneurs, have). In business, as in life, growing up can be difficult.

To make your business truly successful, you need to live it -- you need to be there mentally and physically. Only then you will be able to execute, listen to the market (for real), and inspire and find people along the way who are willing fight with you, celebrate with you and even inspire you! After all, only those who stay committed and keep at it have a chance to make that entrepreneurial flame a fire.

Related: 5 Steps to Stop Spinning Your Wheels and Start Following Your Passion

David Los

Founder and CEO of Foap

David Los is the founder and CEO of Foap, a user-generated photography service that answers the growing demand from brands, advertising agencies and consumers for real, authentic imagery. Leveraging his passion for the intersection of photography and branded social media content, Los launched the app and online creative marketplace in early 2012.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

Kickstarter Is Opening Up Its Platform to Creators and Making Big Changes to Its Model — Here's What's New

The company noted it is moving beyond traditional crowdfunding and making it easier for businesses to raise more money.

Business Culture

The Psychological Impact of Recognition on Employee Motivation and Engagement — 3 Key Insights for Leaders

By embedding strategic recognition into their core practices, companies can significantly elevate employee motivation, enhance productivity and cultivate a workplace culture that champions engagement and loyalty.


Know The Franchise Ownership Costs Before You Leap

From initial investments to royalty fees to legal costs, take stock of these numbers before it's too late.

Employee Experience & Recruiting

Beyond the Great Resignation — How to Attract Freelancers and Independent Talent Back to Traditional Work

Discussing the recent workplace exit of employees in search of more meaningful work and ways companies can attract that talent back.


What the Mentality of the Dotcom Era Can Teach the AI Generations

The internet boom showed that you still need tenacity and resilience to succeed at a time of great opportunity.