Three pillars of success for entrepreneurs

If you’ve got a big idea you want to turn into a business, you could increase your chances of realising your dream with these three pillars of success.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to business. People have succeeded in many different ways (just consider the personality types and approaches of some well-known businesspeople e.g. Apple’s Tim Cook versus Sir Alan Sugar), but following these tips is a great place to start. The pillars cover everything from getting more work done to hiring the right people: Work Smarter, Not Harder; Delegate; and Don’t be Afraid to Fail.

Pillar One: Work smarter, not harder

Sometimes it’s overwhelming when you have a seemingly endless to-do list and don’t know where to begin – it can even put you off starting anything at all! Being a successful entrepreneur isn’t all about working 18-hour days and sacrificing your work/life balance. Here are some effective techniques to help you get more done, in less time.

Learn to prioritise – write a to-do list to help you order and prioritise your most urgent tasks and those that can wait. Make a list for each day in the week, prioritising each job by deadline. This will enable you to see your workload for what it is and feel a sense of achievement every time you tick something off, spurring you on for the next task.

Eat the frog – this productivity method simply involves doing your hardest or least-liked task first.  The saying ‘eat the frog’ came from author Mark Twain, who reasoned that if you ‘eat the frog’ in the morning, you can go about the rest of your day knowing that the worst is behind you. If you get your most challenging task out of the way first, the rest of your work will breeze by in no time.

Create and stick to a routine – if you don’t have regular working hours, sometimes it can feel like the work never stops, which can, in turn, lead to fatigue and burnout. You may be working from home as you set up your new business or working several jobs, but establishing some kind of routine and scheduling downtime is far healthier for your mind and your productivity in the long run.

Manage your time – need to fit a lot of work into a short space of time? Try the Pomodoro time management technique. It was developed by an Italian named Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and involves using a timer to work in 25-minute intervals with five-minute breaks in between. After every fourth pomodoro, you take a longer break of 20-30 minutes. It takes its name from Cirillo’s tomato-shaped kitchen timer (pomodoro is Italian for tomato). The idea is that, as human attention spans are short, the intervals break up your workload into manageable short bursts making you more productive.

Pillar Two: Delegate the tasks you’re not good at

Ever heard the phrase, “If you want something done right, do it yourself?” In many ways, this is the wrong strategy for entrepreneurs who want to grow a business. It should be “If you want something done right, hire the right people.”

Delegation allows you to concentrate on the things you are good at and not waste valuable time on those you are not. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In a digital age where you can hire freelancers or contractors to do almost anything you need online, entrepreneurs are increasingly able to delegate tasks like marketing, design, financial analysis, copywriting, sales and more. Sites like ,  and allow you to hire talented people by the hour or by project for short-term tasks or recurring assignments at competitive prices.

What’s more, many freelancers in the so-called gig-economy work overseas where the cost of living is lower, meaning your money goes further – great news for entrepreneurs on a shoestring budget.

Pillar Three: Don’t be afraid to fail

A good entrepreneur knows that success isn’t always guaranteed but doesn’t get disheartened. The key to success is building on that failure, and, according to Tim Harford, author of the inspiring leadership book, Adapt, there are ways in which this can be achieved:

Try new things in the expectation that some will fail.
Make failure survivable because it will be common.
Make sure you know when you’ve failed. Fail methodically and learn to maximise your return on failure.