Success Checklist for Entrepreneurs


One of my favorite quotes from the legendary Gary Halbert: “There is nothing that cannot be accomplished by a man who refuses to face reality.”

You laugh, but he was dead serious. One of the reasons we became fast friends was our mutual outlook on life – whenever reality was inconvenient to our goals, we just ignored the facts, lowered our head, and bulled forward.

In a rational world, none of the buttoned-up biz owners we dealt with would have tolerated us for more than a minute.

But… we brought the “magic” of ads that worked.

That meant they HAD to not just tolerate us, but sometimes coddle us and even pay us more than they were going to earn themselves in the project.

I’ve been thinking about Gary a lot lately, and about what it takes to become a top marketing & entrepreneurial pro.

You do not NEED to be a half-crazed rebellious lunkhead to succeed in biz.

What do you need? 

Here’s a starter checklist that you may find helpful, no matter what level of success you’re at.

In no particular order, these are the main things you’ll need in your “toolkit” as an entrepreneur:

Entrepreneur Tool # 1: Survival resources
This includes books, an ever-expanding network of experts, mentors, colleagues and go-to-guys, and whatever courses, seminars, and tutorials you need to attain a mastery of the details of whatever biz you’re in.

If you’re looking for the motherlode of resources to help you learn to sell, market, and grow your biz, you’ll feel like a kid at Christmas right here

Entrepreneur Tool # 2: Goal-setting skills
You need to understand, clearly, where you’re headed and what you want from both your journey and your final destination. It’s okay, early on, to not be clear on you ultimate goals. You will constantly re-adjust your long-term goals as you go.

Short-term, however, you need to get good at breaking down the best path to your target, while also learning how to fix problems and deal with unexpected emergencies.

Entrepreneur Tool # 3: Thick skin
You simply need to put your ego aside when entering the entrepreneurial world. You’re gonna get stomped, bullied, abused, insulted and assaulted. It’s just a fact of the entrepreneurial life. Your motto must be “eyes on the prize”, at all times. 

Entrepreneur Tool # 4: Risk tolerance
This is what sets most entrepreneurs apart from civilians. You’re going to have to lay your reputation on the line, and climb into a fight with the forces of capitalism armed only with your wit, meager skill sets, and raw determination.

And no one else except other entrepreneurs will ever understand what you’re going through. 

  • Working without a net. 
  • Daring the universe to slap you down. 
  • Going into situations, over and over again, where you’re a complete rookie, apt to make embarrassing mistakes.

In short, living with risk. And the consequences of risk, which can include failure.

Of course, a true entrepreneur regards “failure” as just another step on the rocky path to breakthrough success. It’s a process. Few get it right the first time.

Entrepreneur Tool # 5: Your basic bag o’ tricks
You need to understand the fundamentals of a sales funnel where qualified leads are captured and closed. And that’s just the start. You also can’t get anywhere without knowing (or connecting with someone who knows) the details of fulfillment and customer management.

Lastly, you must learn how to craft a sales message that can be easily communicated to prospects.

It’s not rocket science, but don’t think for a minute that you can “fake it” as you begin marketing your biz for real.

Entrepreneur Tool # 6: A budget, or war chest
Most entrepreneurs hate budgets and planning. But you should have at least some cash in your biz adventures. Admittedly, I’m not a great role model. 

I started my freelance career with one last tank of gas in a rattle-trap car, one month’s rent paid, and enough spare change to feed myself for a couple of weeks. I had no Plan B.

So it can be done. However, it’s much better to have a planned budget, and the money to meet it for at least a few months. 

Entrepreneur Tool # 7: Sound judgement
Over time, you’ll develop an ability to judge what’s worth doing, and what’s going to backfire horrifically. If you suck at it right now, one of your goals must be to get pro-level good at judging client requests, job offers, new projects, partner assessments, and all the little and big decisions that will cascade upon your head every single day.

One tactic: Use the 1-10 “pain scale” measurement many doctors use in assessing patients. Use it on yourself: What level is the value… the risk… the reward… and the danger of any decision you encounter?

Is it a big deal, or a little deal of no lasting consequence?

Get good at this, as fast as possible. One of the main failure points of unsuccessful biz owners is a lack of prompt, good decisions.

Entrepreneur Tool # 8: Stress management
You’re going to encounter stress as an entrepreneur. That’s a given.

Ignoring this stress is a very, very, very bad idea. It will never leave, it will build up, and in due time it will fry your brain like an egg in a skillet.

You are not a superman. Your body and mind are vulnerable to the ravages of poor diet, lack of exercise, and constant hormone dumps of adrenaline and other bad chemicals.

Massage, meditation, lots of vacations, reading good books (not biz books) to relax, having “safety zones” in your week where you are free from the tentacles of your biz (no phone, no email, no nothing)…

Find what works for you, and give it PRIORITY status in your life.

For example, I began getting weekly massages early in my career… long before I started buying better clothes, a newer car, or eating out more often. Massage “re-set” my physical stress levels, and I’m convinced it has saved me from ulcers and worse. And kept me mega-productive for decades.

And finally (for this short “starter list”)…

Entrepreneur Tool # 9: An exit plan
Go after your goals like a terrier after a squirrel, with total focus and commitment. However, realize that sometimes your goals need to adjusted, or even abandoned.

I’m talking about visualizing your life after success. 

Many entrepreneurs, right after “making it”, immediately begin to sabotage the biz. Because the fun is in the building up of the thing, the adventures of tackling challenges and working without a net.

Once you’ve been successful, you either need to pivot to management of the biz  or consider the consequences of cashing out and selling your biz.

At least consider what your life will be like when you succeed. And consider lots of options for yourself.

Okay. That’s the starter list. Not a bad checklist to have on the wall above your desk as you move forward, either.

I hope this helps!

Stay frosty,


P.S. If you’re looking for more tips to take you to the next level as a super sales pro, check out this article right here.