Ask the Readers: What Makes a Great Entrepreneur?

lazy entrepreneur

When you think of some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the web (Evan WilliamsJason FriedMarc Andreessen, Caterina Fake, Elon MuskNiklas Zennstrom, and Arianna Huffington), what similarities come to mind?

Yes, they all have built successful companies, but what other commonalities do you see?

At first glance, these successful entrepreneurs don’t have much in common. The list contains both men and women, all with different levels of education, differing nationalities, and from different regions of the world.

However, when you dig a bit deeper, you see that they share many commonalities with other successful entrepreneurs.

You have to be somewhat smart

jeremy schoemaker

By no means is a college degree required in the entrepreneurial world. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs, including Michael Dell and Bill Gates, don’t have college degrees, but have made billions.

I know they are rare examples, but another candidate who has done well is Jeremy Schoemaker. He hasn’t made billions like Bill or Michael, but he has made millions.

Jeremy never graduated college and has always had a passion for computers. He was a security admin for Wells Fargo, and like most entrepreneurs Jeremy hated working at his 9 to 5 job. So he decided to start a business that revolved around ringtones.

Because of his knowledge of the web and cell phones, Jeremy figured out how he could pull in 6 figures a month through a ringtone website. Formal education was not responsible for his success; rather, he was smart enough to figure out what consumers wanted. Once he had enough eyeballs on his website, he tested various monetization methods, which helped him get to 6 figures a month in revenue.

You don’t need a college degree to be a great entrepreneur; you just have to be smart enough to make money and run a business. A college degree might not hurt, but street smarts can be a more valuable asset.

You have to be scrappy

Kamran Pourzanjani

Kamran Pourzanjani is known for starting a successful company called PriceGrabber. He sold the company to Experian in 2005 for $485 million.

Unlike most of his competitors, Kamran walked away with a good chunk of money from his acquisition because he raised under $2 million in financing, while some of his competitors raised over $30 million.

Kamran’s scrappiness didn’t start with PriceGrabber. He had that quality since he was young. When Kamran first immigrated to the U.S., he did whatever it took to succeed. Nothing was beneath him — he even tried selling knives door to door.

Are you willing to do whatever it takes to succeed?

You have to take calculated risks

Tony Conrad

Your business is going to change, whether you like it or not. New opportunities will come your way as time goes on, but it is up to you to seize them.

If you are like most entrepreneurs, you’ll end up trusting your gut. But if you have what it takes to be a great entrepreneur, you’ll make calculated decisions.

A few years ago, Tony Conrad launched a company called Sphere, which competed directly with Technorati. Within a few months of launch, Tony took a calculated risk and switched Sphere’s business model to be centered around widgets. Although the move was bold and risky, it was smart because that market was underserved compared to the blog search engine market.

In a short period of time, websites like The New York Times, AOL, TechCrunch, CNN, and 20,000 other blogs were using the Sphere widget. This mass adoption caused Sphere to receive over 1 billion page views a month, which eventually led to AOL acquiring the company.

You can’t be afraid to roll the dice

James Hong

As I’ve said, you have to be willing to take calculated risks, but you also have to be willing to roll the dice.

Case in point: James Hong was the founder of a company called Hot or Not. At one point, the company charged  for premium accounts, which accounted for $500,000 in monthly revenue.

After a few years or running Hot or Not, James and his co-founder decided to remove their paid subscription model and rely solely on revenue from advertising and virtual gifts. Within the first month of doing this, the company saw a 60% increase in traffic and was lucky enough to break even.

Although James reverted back to a premium subscription model due to spam, he was willing to roll the dice when he needed to. The company did very well, and he ended up selling it in 2008 for around $20 million.

You need to be cheap

andy liu

Andy Liu isn’t as well-known as fellow entrepreneurs Evan Williams or Marc Andreessen, but he is very successful nonetheless. He sold his first company, NetConversions, to aQuantive in 2004, and his current company, BuddyTV, is dominating the television space. According to Comscore, it is  more popular than TV Guide and

Like many other successful entrepreneurs, Andy is well educated; he has an MBA from Wharton. However, his success is not defined by his degree, but rather by his frugal nature. If you read Andy’s blog, you’ll discover that he bargains whenever he can (even at department stores). This, in turn, makes him an exceptional negotiator when it comes to business affairs.

Whether he is dealing with consultants, employees, or potential investors, Andy makes sure he is getting the best deal. To top it off, he has also been able to buy companies for a steal — just take a look at I Can Has Cheezburger! According to this article, he bought it for around $2 million; with their traffic growing from 10 million page views a month to 170 million, the current value of the company must be much higher.

Although there isn’t anything wrong with being frugal, you need to know when your company should spend money. For example, if you don’t spend money on things like marketing (when the time is right), your company will never reach its full potential.

You can’t ever be satisfied


If you are satisfied, there is nothing that will push you to grow. Two entrepreneurs that are never satisfied are Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson from 37signals.

Even though their software company has been doubling its revenue roughly every year, they never seem to stop improving their products. They are constantly getting feedback from users and making tweaks to improve the experience.

They are also monitoring how users are interacting with their website so they can maximize their conversion rates. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at; there have been roughly 116 variations of in just 4 years.

You have to constantly evolve

Mark Zuckerberg

Have you heard the saying, “the bigger you are, the slower you move”? Well, it isn’t true in all cases. Mark Zuckerberg’s company, Facebook, is always evolving. Not only do they make tweaks to the website on a regular basis, but they are able to evolve their business model fairly quickly.

Just look at all of the news coverage they received on TechCrunch in 2009. While some of the attention they received was on things like lawsuits, a good portion of it was about new website features and changes to their business model.

If that doesn’t bring things in perspective for you, compare Facebook with Twitter. Both of the companies are growing rapidly, but Facebook has been able to evolve faster, despite having 14 times the number of employees.

You have to love what you do

Gary Vaynerchuk

You can make money doing something you don’t love, but you can make much more money if you spend your time on something you love. If you love what you are doing, you will work harder and spend more time doing it. Best of all, it won’t seem like work.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of someone with a passion for his work. In just three years, he was able to turn his family’s $4-million wine business into a $50-million business. He was able to combine his passion for wine and the social web to create an empire.

After Gary conquered all things wine-related, he realized he had a passion for branding. He then created Vaynermedia, a company that helps build brand equity. Things continue to go well for Gary. He secured a 7-figure book deal and  has shares in many prominent web companies such as Twitter.

If like Gary you love what you are doing, not only are you more likely to make a decent chunk of change but you also will be happy.


Good entrepreneurs come in a variety of colors, sizes, and personality types. Still, they all share the traits mentioned above. If you know of any other qualities that make up great entrepreneurs, feel free to leave a comment.

P.S. If you want help with entrepreneurship and growing your business click here.


  1. Not well known? I know of all of these entrepreneurs. Maybe not well known off the web. 🙂

    “Granted a college degree may help, but street smarts can be a more valuable asset.” I would imagine street smarts would be one of the top things nearly all these folks have in common, that and a relentless desire to succeed.

    • Learn to network and work hard and you can go as far as you want.

      • Prostate Problems :

        To the aspiring entrepreneur, a college degree cannot guarantee millions of dollars in revenue; but an education in entrepreneurship can enable you to better comprehend the business aspects of successfully operating a new venture, and how to capitalize on natural talent and learned skills.

        • A college degree is never the answer for becoming successful, it’s just a tool, like anything else that can get you in areas where people without those degrees cant.

          • Philippine Stock Exchange :

            I agree! However, you have to notice that these guys didn’t drop out of college because they couldn’t finish it due to being dumb. see, they dropped out because they thought college was in their way of getting rich!

            • Sometimes people stay in college because they’re unsure about what they want to do in life and other times they’re perfectly clear. It just depends on your perception.

          • Neil! I love that you said this because I have seen so many of my friends go to college thinking it would lead them to success. One friend went to a local college, spent $36k in 2 years for a job that pays him $17/hour. This just doesn’t make sense to me. Obviously you need schooling if you have a desire to become a doctor or lawyer, but for a job that pays so little for so much college is a waste.

            I don’t have a college degree and I am on a path of success, but only because I know what hard work and effort is. Great post! I’m definitely a self motivated entrepreneur, like most here.

            • Glad to hear it. It is up to each person to decided what they want to do in life and if college will help get them to those goals. Also just going to college isn’t what will get people far. Like you said it’s about hard work and motivation.

        • Local Locksmith :

          A degree wont guarantee you’ll be a millionaire but it will open more doors then for those without.

          • It can open a lot of doors that people without degrees can’t normally get into, but if you don’t know how to handle it, it wont make any difference.

            • After finishing college I was able to realize that it may even not help at all in my future life. I see people who didn’t even finished high school and they have lots of money. These days education is now what it used to be. Knowing what people want is the key to success. It doesn’t matter if you look stupid by doing something, but as long as it brings you money just keep doing it. There is that guy on the web, William Hung, who was at an American Idol audition and he really sucked, but with all of that everything changed for him since that day. He is now a millionaire and keeps doing the same things people laughed about then but he doesn’t care at all. Money talks 🙂

              • Right, people get embarrassed and what not because they feel uncomfortable doing the things they do. What you need to realize is that you grow when you feel uncomfortable. You need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

    • “I would imagine street smarts would be one of the top things nearly all these folks have in common, that and a relentless desire to succeed.”
      Yes an no. Millions of people have college degrees, and millions have street smarts. It’s not the “street smarts” per se that put you ahead from the rest, but the desire to take action, take risk.
      Look at ideas like facebook, microsoft, they do not require any real new advanced thinking, and especially not any qualifications, Gates is a “dropout”, and Zuckerberg started his company in a dorm.
      They are not any advances in new technology (they are even copies of existing companies/technologies), they have just made things SIMPLER to the majority of people in the world, and more desirable, which is what set them apart…something to think about! Why did Myspace die, yet Facebook flourish?? In simple terms they are exactly the same websites.

      Great article Neil, one of your best. (Hope youre well 😉 )

      • It’s about desire and how badly you want something. Education is important, but it doesn’t have to be structured, if you get what I mean.

      • CanadaImmigration :

        It is also to be innovative all the time. On web, it is a constant struggle to keep up with new advancement. There are many examples in front of us. I know back in college altavista was very popular, what happened? why Google has knocked down everybody out there, including giants like Yahoo and Microsoft. Innovation? Myspace definitely did not innovate, and facebook did!!

        • Google will dominate for a while, no doubt. And yes, several new companies will come out of no where and become the new dominating company.

    • marcus@how to make money online :

      I totally agree. Street smarts and good instincts are more valuable than a degree. College teaches you the basics of te business or industry that your are entering but the most knowledge yourwill gain is to work in that industry and learn it inside out.

  2. My favorite example of an awesome entrepreneur is Elon Musk of Tesla Motors, the guy is rock solid in the tech/engineering side and a business brain to boot.

    I call him the UBER entrepreneur
    What are your thoughts?

    • I’ve seen that, it’s great! His cars are amazing ;D

    • Prostate Problems :

      Right Mate! Elon is one of the most successful people ever to have come out of South Africa. We have all heard about Charlize Theron here in South Africa, but hardly anyone is aware of who Elons is and what he has achieved. He should be a major role model for South African children.

      • There are a ton of people just like that too. Do what the successful people do and you’ll have what they have, eventually.

        • Hey Niel, just like what you have done right? 🙂 You reach the top after those hardships that you’ve experience in life.
          Beginning today, I will follow your advice or your blog here.

          Julius Orias

  3. Jarie Bolander :

    You have to be intellectually curious about all sorts of things, not just what you are good at. Expanding your knowledge base beyond your expertise allows you to find different opportunities.

  4. You numbered most of the good skills which a great entrepreneur must haveso there is not so much to say, but I will still add that you need to be ambitious, which is in a fact almost the same with “You have to love what you do”+”You have to constantly evolve”, because the ambition makes the goals change rapidly from a good one to a better one, by the step you get forword into to the business.

    • Ambition is an amazing trait! And yes if you’re not growing in some way, you’re falling behind.

      • Prostate Problems :

        Successful entrepreneurs are enthusiastic, highly motivated individuals who always seem to be full of energy. They have the ability to continually motivate themselves. Their high standards and their driving ambition demand that they get motivated and stay motivated!

        • Success entrepreneurs have to have a lot of energy. With all the failure and setbacks, energy is what will allow one to move forward.

          • Prostate Problems :

            This is easy to say without understanding that those who enter this business realm have generally invested a lot of time, energy, and hard work into a business project. However, it is important to understand that being successful is being able to adjust your plan with the times, being able to realize a mistake or bad idea when you make one, and being willing to give all the time and energy that you need to give in order to make your venture a successful one.

            • To be successful, you must adjust, then readjust, then re-readjust etc. Adapt and overcome.

            • CanadaImmigration :

              Totally concur with you. Sometimes, we invest in something and then we see it failing. We keep investing in hope of having it successful in the end. I think it is important to know when to cut off a failing business. That requires courage, strong will, and a decisive mind. I personally, have seen people making this mistake and in the end, lost every thing. You should determine what is your stop-loss, before you start a business. This should be a part of the Business Planning.

              • Exactly, sometimes you just have to let it go and cut your loses. More often than not, it’s the reason why people go to the next level.

  5. For success
    1. You need to be smart
    2. You should have the balls to take the risk (ladies excuse)
    3. You should be lucky
    4. You should be knowing the right people
    5. Either you are born to rich father or you marry a rich girl(which proves your are smart)

    • You should check out this blog post:

    • Online College :

      I have rich folks, and want me to achieve on my own. Not ride their coattails. If you want to be the epitome of “old money” and be a self righteous snob, along with being the most ignorant person in the room go ahead with your plan. If you can’t make it on your own and blaze your own trail what good are you?

      • It’s not a bad thing to ride someone’s coattails, just don’t plan on doing it for your entire life. Also, it’s put you in sort of a dependent situation, which is far from secure.

  6. On serious side ,education helps you in getting ideas and making contacts. I believe that eduction reduces your ability to take risk.
    Since you have invested so much money in education , one thought is why to take risk when you can get a cushy and comfortable job.
    If you do not have a safe landing options , probability you are going to take much more risks.

    • You need to grow on a consistent basis. Yes you have to take risks, yes you’ll fail, but it’s not about how many times you fail, but it’s about how many times you can bounce back and continue pushing forward.

    • Online College :

      Yes, you may meet good contacts in college but more often then not they are your friends not your colleagues. Education can’t hurt you and won’t keep you from doing anything. It is there as a tool not a crutch.

      • The truth is that you can make good contacts anywhere, it just solely depends on your communication skills.

        • Prostate Problems :

          Good speaking skills will also help you in organizing a meeting effectively, or even interviewing someone. Speaking skills can be learned from courses and books, but a lot of determination is required.

      • Another thing a degree shows people is that you can start, follow through and finish something that you want to attain. So it definitely helps you get your foot in the door, depending on what you are looking to do. And yes the lifelong contacts you make in college can be very valuable.

    • David Turnbull :

      Safety is the path most people chose, but it’s not really that safe. You’re simply putting your future in the hands of someone else (your boss and the managers of the company).

      Starting a business is not for everyone, but its appealing for those (including myself) who feel we should be solely responsible for our own future, successes, and failures. 🙂

      • Starting a business is for a very small group of individuals. If you’re putting your own life into your own hands, be persistent about it.

  7. Mark "Johnny Optimist" :

    Preparation is also one of the commonalities. Those guys either already knew how to code, learned to code, or knew someone who could build what they were looking for.

    Just like your Opportunity Bus from the last post, if you haven’t prepared yourself with the proper Fare, you will have to wait for the next one to come along.

    • Right, but there’s always something coming along…just hurry up and take it, but you got it on the nose, if you don’t prepare, prepare to fail.

  8. You have to be in it to win it. These guys are constantly getting involved in different things all the time. They do not sit around and wait for the perfect idea.

    Get out there and get in the mix even if it is small. You never know what the next step might be.

  9. You have listed many great examples, who are people to be admired and looked up to. There should be a wall of fame out there for people in the industry.

  10. @vinay I don’t agree with you and with your tips to succeed.
    1. You don’t have to be smart, you have to be creative.
    2. You don’t have to take risks, you can always play on sure.
    3. You don’t have to be lucky, you can do everything with hardworking.
    4. Read 3.
    5. Read 5.

    No offense but your comment is not on the right place, there are too many people who succeeded without your tips..

    • Being smart is helpful, but being a genius is not.
      Taking big risks is what will give you big rewards
      Luck is something that you’ll eventually have, but it depends if you’ll take it. Be at the right place, at the right time.

  11. Danail Donchev :

    You must be persistens too.It is easy to start with several milions and multiplay.What about that man-selling knives door to door he must be really persistent person.

    • Prostate Problems :

      Businesses never travel a straight path. Thus, an entrepreneur must be persistent. You must persist through trying times, since there are always bad times, and fight as much as needed to achieve the goals you have set.

      • Danail Donchev :

        True!One of my best friends claims that is you are born poor and have no luck you can not achieve something big.Usually I tell him success if 98% hard work 1% luck 1% talant

        • @Danail Donchev you are wrong too everything is to work, to work hard and to WORK very hard. My best friend was from very poor family I remember when we were kids, he was wearing his brothers clothes, he doesn’t had luck, he wasn’t talant in anything, but he was studying HARD, he was excellent student, now he has a translation agency (he started to translate like a freelancer for 1.5$ per 500words article). So I think you have only to work hard and the hard working will pay you 🙂
          Best regards!

        • Prostate Problems :

          Absolutely right ! It doesn’t mean that you cannot create your own “luck”. Human brain is a muscle which requires regular exercise. If you consider yourself “unlucky”, it is still possible to change your destiny by building excellence in one area which fascinates you the most at the moment. With time you will notice that the success spreads over to other areas of your life as well. The right mental state of mind, expectations and actions, eagerness to learn and practice, except the mistakes as a part of educational process – all are the key to your “luck” in forex trading.

          • Your not necessarily creating luck, you just get a break every now and again. The only thing is, sometimes people act on their luck (or their break) while most people don’t.

        • Talent doesn’t have too much to do with it, I agree, but luck can play a significant role. It’s all about being at the right place at the right time.

      • Exactly! It’s very far from being a straight path and more so like a jagged line.

  12. Great article Neil – I’d also add to be a great entrepreneur you need to be highly focused. As a budding entrepreneur, its easy to get distracted by the “latest” thing. Focus doesn’t mean not being adaptable to change by any means, but it means whatever you are doing you put all your resources and energy into it.

  13. This has to be one of my favorite articles – thanks Neil.

    If you have the heart and a great idea, you’re already halfway there… the rest is just good ole elbow grease. Creative marketing is always a perk too.

    • You just need a dam good idea and a kick ass marketing plan. Then, you’ll need to believe that “failure is not an option”

  14. David Turnbull :

    I consider persistence the most important asset for an entrepreneur. It’s definitely what I struggle with and I’ve seen countless people never make it to the tipping point simply because they couldn’t keep going for just a little bit longer.

    • Prostate Problems :

      Persistent will be to a successful entrepreneur as carbon is to steel. When you have spent your last dollar and the next sales is not coming as planned you must persist, because your biggest break through is usually just after your biggest disappointments

      • If you’ve ever read the classic book Think and Grow Rich, there’s actually a story that talks about success being only a few feet away. Sometimes success is just under your nose and most people quit before they reach it, even though it’s just minutes, days, a few feet, yards, or miles away.

        • Prostate Problems :

          I have found a new edition of “Think and Grow Rich” that eliminates the problem of outdated language, sexist language, and language that today might be considered racist. It is “Think and Grow Rich!: The Original Version, Restored and Revised” (ISBN 1593302002), published by Aventine Press and edited by Ross Cornwell. I believe this is the only version of this classic book that has an index, an appendix, and extensive endnotes. Mr. Cornwell also has restored the book to its original (1937) manuscript, then “gently” revised some sections to clear up problems of outdated or offensive language.

    • True, you’ll fail over and over again, so it’s definitely about how many times you’re able to push yourself forward.

      • Prostate Problems :

        Understand that failure is ok. If you have failed, the chances are that you have been making a move forward.

        • Failure is not only okay, it’s really inevitable. It’s not how many times you fall, it’s how many times you get up.

          • Prostate Problems :

            We tend to lose perspective of what it means to fail. With failure, comes the opportunity to learn and grow. In other words, to fail is to learn.

            • Learning from both failure and success is great. Everything you do in life can be a phenomenal learning lesson. Don’t take stuff that happens in you life lightly, because it can help you move forward quickly.

  15. itsoke @ chicken recipes :

    neil a college graduate or college drop out, what ‘s the difference does it make ? .. I think entrepreneur need no academic degree , but it need spirit !

    • It’s not necessarily the degree that does anything but get you in through doors people without them can’t get in.

  16. Prostate Problems :

    What makes you an entrepreneur?; this question is simple but very difficult to answer. For a long time, people have studied the science behind entrepreneurial process, what drives a great entrepreneur, the things that make an ordinary person transforms into a job creator.

    To answer this question, it’s much better if we try to understand what’s behind entrepreneurial process. At the heart of every entrepreneurial process is the founder, the opportunity seeker, the creator and initiator, the leader, problem solver, and motivator; the planner and the guardian of vision and mission. Without this human energy, behavior, drive, and vitality, the greatest ideas-even when they are backed by an overabundance of resources and people-will fail, grossly underperform, or simply never get off the ground. Brilliant athletic aptitude and potential is not equal with the great athlete. The difference is invisible and intangible: commitment, tenacity and determination.

    • Being an entrepreneur is like having 20 jobs at once. In the beginning, you must do anything and everything you can to make it. Great insight though!

  17. Dietmar Stefitz :

    I think we should also remember the 1000’s of Entrepreneurs which make a nice living out of their JOB.

    Money is not everything!

  18. Anup Khandelwal :

    Hi Neil,
    I am gr8 fans of blog. U are just awesome. I am web developer and want to start writing a blog.How can i go abt??

  19. I agree with all the points you mention, but somehow “constantly evolve”. and “do what you love” struck a chord with me.


    • Prostate Problems :

      The secret to success is to do work you love. So do you love your work? Many individuals do work as a means to an end. Now, fundamentally there is nothing wrong with honest labour except this – whatever you do you are exchanging your life for it. In other words, if you do not enjoy your work you are literally living in a prison – one which you have created for yourself.

      “The man who does not work for the love of work but only for money is not likely to make money nor find much fun in life.”
      Charles M Schwab

      • I really like what you said about exchanging your life for it. It sounds VERY powerful. Thanks for sharing the quote too.

  20. marcus@how to make money online :

    It’s all about drive, determination, and persistence.

  21. Good timing, hard work, persistence. If you’re too early, you’ll burn through your resources before demand emerges. Too late, and you’re just another me-too.

  22. Some awesome examples. Where there is a will there is a way and where this is money there is a market.

  23. wow, thats motivates me to work more on my projects and the company.

    >Neil Patel
    Come up with an out of this world idea and find people to help you fund it

    for example in Russia someone made (the copy of the a got so successfull and popular

    i am reading you blog not a long time, but you got here a lot of usefull information, thanks a lot for sharing your experience

  24. You need to add yourself to the list, Neil 😉

  25. My take:

    Break free from negative influences, stay the course, dont give in.

    Focus. Pick a project/idea and see it through.

    Forget “great ideas”. Concentrate on execution.

    Hire talented people, delegate to them, share the success with them.

    Overcome your fear. Fear nothing and no one. Dominate.

    Don’t be for sale, only be bought. That is sell before you need to.

    Ownership is the big secret: Hold on to every percentage you can.

    • Great insight! Holding on to every percentage can however hurt your success. I gave away a ton of percentage on my newest company

  26. I find that most successful entrepreneurs are very good “people persons”, for lack of a better term. They have very good instincts about people – they know how to hire the right people, inspire them, put the right incentives in place and keep them motivated. And of course, they can’t do everything, so they delegate well.

    Another trait I find among successful entrepreneurs is that they are not only decisive, but also very good decision-makers. Entrepreneurship, in my opinion, is decision-making on steroids. Successful entrepreneurs simply know how to make quick yet thoughtful decisions.

    • It’s important to be decisive. It gives you dominance and control that shows true leadership.

    • CanadaImmigration :

      There was old time saying ” Greed is Curse” but I think it does not apply when it comes to be an entrepreneur. You have to be greedy for success. That says, entrepreneur are the people who are never satisfy with their success. There is always more to do, always strive for better.

  27. pays to live green :

    You definitely have to be hungry at all times and never let your guard down. Getting too comfortable is why so many people have a 9-5 job and never become really successful. Your never going to make money on every venture, but taking the risk could pay off big.

    • It’s not a bad thing to be comfortable with your job if that’s what your ultimate goal is. However, if you want a lot more out of life, you need to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to allow yourself to grow.

    • CanadaImmigration :

      Yes, return is directly related to the risk. All the entrepreneurs are risk takers. Successful are the ones who calculate their risk and minimize it, by maximizing the return on the other hand.

  28. Neil,

    I read your blog religiously and have found it to be packed with useful information. I am a young, budding internet entrepreneur as well who focuses specifically in internet marketing. Currently, I have worked with some large and prestigious individuals for my age (cities, mayors, and some large corporations) but that very statement is whats holding me back. I don’t want my business to be influenced by my age.

    Going forward, I want to get into enterprise level internet marketing. I know I have the intelligence, confidence, and determination to get not one, but multiple large corporations. I feel that what I really need is an internship or to study under a higher level company to test my skill and business savvy. What do you think?

    Much Thanks,


    • Interning is a great idea. You sound like you have the skills and the ideas sounds perfect.

    • CanadaImmigration :

      It is always a good idea to learn before getting in the business. Internship is one of the better options. It gets you the experience required for becoming a successful entrepreneur. You have to set your goals and achieve them one by one. Having multiple organizations is very tempting but you should get there by having yourself focused on one in the beginning. It is very difficult to organize the multiple corporations. One successful corporation is better than multiple mediocre corporations. But I would also say that everything is possible if you are determined to achieve it.

      • Always do you homework no matter what industry you decide to get into.

        Don’t focus on multiple organizations if you haven’t been able to take one to a level of success.

  29. I already work full time as a web designer, and I have a business model that I am in the process of building. I also setup my own legal entity to freelance under.

    My question isn’t how to start a business, my question is do you think I should intern at a company and if so any recommendations as to what type of company?

    • Interning at a company is a great idea. It all depends on what you want to do. I can’t recommend which company you should work for, but do your research and choose the company that best fits your needs.

  30. One of the best posts I’ve read in a while Neil. I think one of the most important qualities to have is a pair of brass balls. Going out on your own involves taking risks and not caring what others say (to a point).

    I definitely agree with the smartness thing. I knew a ton of geniuses at university and I don’t know a single one who could ever be an entrepreneur.

    IQ is really overrated. I think emotional/social intelligence is far more important, especially with regards to entrepreneurship.

    Sean Morrissy

    • IQ has nothing to do with the success you have. The man with the world’s highest IQ is no where near the top 10 richest people in the world. There is no correlation with IQ and success.

    • CanadaImmigration :

      it can be inferred from your comment that geniuses at university are not suited for being an entrepreneur. I think after graduating, and spending a lot of money one their education, they become very risk sensitive. They have a lot of responsibilities and as a result they prefer to be in the stable jobs, and pay off their student loans! I think if these people can dare to take risk and decide to become entrepreneur, they can be very successful. Education always helps, where ever you are and what ever you do.

  31. HOBO(nickname) :

    I say :
    If hobby is turned into a job it is excellent but at the same time Money making is an Art no matter its your job or hobby-turned-job.
    Honestly speaking till-date I do not know how to earn money. But Yes, whoever makes millions/billions – I salute.

    • You can realistically make money in any industry. Most people have yet to make their “millions/billions”, but it’s never too late, if you know what I mean.

  32. Really great article.. i could learn a lot about the entrepreneurs and what makes them so..
    And one more important thing is that, i could learn more from the comments discussion below the post.

    • The readers on Quicksprout are awesome and they ask great questions and leave very enlightening responses, so I agree.

  33. Great post! I know a couple of the guys you mentioned, and you are absolutely right.

    Aspiring Entrepreneurs often forget that an online business is A BUSINESS.

    All of the great online success stories start with someone doing what they love. Seriously, eBay was started as an online marketplace for its creator to buy difficult-to-find PEZ dispensers for his girlfriend.

    There are always new ideas, ways to improve on existing ideas, and niches that are under served all around us.

    • It seems as if every idea is already taken, but whether it is or it isn’t, there are always ways to create something bigger and better or in some cases, smaller and more efficient. Entrepreneurship gives you endless possibilities.

  34. I agree that you don’t need a college degree to become a real success online, you just need to know what the customer wants. And yes Neil, I have fallen for a get rich quick scheme back in the day, and now I think I would never fall for stuff like that again ( I hope so anyhow ). Thanks for the interesting and encouraging read.

    • Those schemes come in all shapes and sizes, not to mention disguises. Just keep an eye open and remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

      • I agree, it’s not very often that something that sounds to good to be true is legitimate. It’s usually a scam or something that works for a short-term gain.

        • Not always, but I agree it’s like that most of the time. Hard work is a path less taken, but most rewarding.

  35. that’s great collections the most successful entrepreneurs and motivating thoughts and ideas.
    i have realized the if you have passion , desire and love for something you want then nothing obstacles can stay against you on the path.
    eduction is everything but it comes many different-different ways.
    Aristotle tutored Alexander the great as he got adulthood saw the world and took oath to win the whole world with winning desire and great passion for making the biggest empire on the earth and he finally did that time his empire was the most powerful, richest, biggest……….
    he did this because of his education, desire, passion and vision.

    • With education, desire, passion, and vision, you can truly accomplish anything you want. Just work your butt off and never give up.

  36. Thousand of people to your site daily is it true?

  37. Great, straight forward information for someone starting out or I guess even those who are struggling with content and traffic.

  38. I am former professional tennis player, and what strikes me is that most of the traits listed are common among the top athletes that I know.

  39. How to make quick money :

    “Hey Neil,

    I liked the posts which are so motivating. Its always encouraging to read and know about the big players of the games, I believe that I will be at that apex at some point in my life.

    Well, bookish knowledge won’t let you good, but its street smartness that will see you through all the obstacles on the way to your success.

    Thanks for such a wonderful post.”

    • Street smartness does make a huge difference in what you can do with your life. Although, your main focus should just be on learning to become consciously aware.

  40. It’s interesting to see the responses. I think setting goals and measure your own success. You choose to be in business – this is half the battle. How do you Measure Success?, Everyone measures it differently…

    • Well that’s exactly it. What’s your definition of success? Use that as your “measuring stick” of what you want to achieve.

  41. Dude, this is one f the best articles ive read long time ago, reading this makes me stronger, relives my dreams, and makes me happy, because at the end im showing that its possible to start from 0 in a country where nobody believes in the web, im showing them its possible make a living from it, and i wont stop here, someday I will be in a list, and then i will thank Neil Potel by writing this. Sir, you are building dreams, best of luck, and keep growing.

    • Thanks David. In a country where “online -stuff” is still new, you can revolutionize the way people read content. A blogger in the Middle East did that and made a lot of money.

      • CanadaImmigration :

        That is so true. Less competition, more opportunities offer these countries where web is a new thing. Lately, we have seen a surge in the internet usage in under developed and developing countries. That reflects great opportunities for online businesses.

  42. 99% hustle, 1% luck.

  43. How to WordPress :


    Yet another great post. I stumbled across your blog like an hour ago and have been content reading through your archives.

    I think it really comes down to loving what you do. If you don’t feel %110 about something then you’re not going to be able to give it your all. It makes it so much more fun when you enjoy it as well, since the journey is the funnest part.

  44. Irrespective of everything, it is the love for what one does which changes the equation. You don’t have to love the field in which you have set up your business, you need to set up your business in the field you love!!

  45. Irrespective of everything, it is the love for what one does which changes the equation. You don’t have to love the field in which you have set up your business, you need to set up your business in the field you love!

    • That’s a great way to put it Nicole. It’s a challenge that most people have which causes chaos and resistance.

  46. Its interesting to see that some of these business ideas did not begin as serious ventures but were just for fun.. it was the merit of idea that made the owners a winner.. case in point: hotornot..

    • That’s usually why the become so successful. They were fun and passion automatically becomes something great and big.

  47. Firme de communication :

    One day I will become an entrepreneur. Neil, do you think the internet goldmines are over? What are the future trends?

    • Nope… there will be more opportunities to choose from as time goes on. Stay tuned to sites like or to stay up to date with the newest and latest trends.

  48. lung cancer prognosis :

    Search for volume in google for particular niche market…most people search for niche words are zooming into it, so you will be surprise that your web that dedicated for particular market will gain more specialist visitors…

    • As long as you can commit to something, you’ll get some kind of results out of it. The more time and energy you put in the more results you’ll get out.

  49. vehicle insurance quotes :

    You know what? Sometimes spending some $$$ to advertise under google can speed up the traffic and volume to your web, but that comes with a price for sure

    • Well it does and unfortunately it can be extremely expensive too. You shouldn’t rely on adwords bringing you traffic than you should it bringing you some kind of revenue.

  50. lung cancer survival rate :

    regularly increase your web page and pump some “juice” to it so that your page PR will get higher

    • ideally… that is the goal. It takes a commitment with a side of hard work to go with it. Learn about your market, do research, and test out what you find.

  51. i think the most important thing is the will and wanting to success. most of us want it and want it now and easy. but it doesn’t work that way. i can see how these people pushed through all the obstacles in their way until they got through. in the case of camran(pricegrabber) i can relate to his hard work and persistency as an immigrant who came to us from the same country as camran’s (iran). 6 years ago i came to us to fly from the brutality of iranian regime because of my religion, i started working as a dishwasher for $6 an hour. i had to take 3 buss to get to work and same to get home. waiting for buss in the harsh winter of saint louis was brutal. although i am not anything big financially as camran or others, but i managed to start my own hardwood flooring company which help me to go from $6 an hour to $100 an hour in most cases. i took on blogging to learn and increase income as the financial crises has slowed my work down. and i am putting the same effort into it. and i already can see some success. i came form not knowing about how to build a simple html page to having my first blog ranking 4 in just 3 months, with no formal education or anything. just be sheer willpower and reading endlessly online and using forums and blogs to learn as i go. so yes you have to work hard and be persistent to get what you want.

    • That’s great satrap! See people like you are the ones who actually stick with something to prove that consistency actually works. Good for you!

  52. totally agreed, people search for niche must have been focusing on the item too, so the traffic from such search enquery should be high quality traffic.

  53. lung cancer survival rate :

    I take your words and continue driving traffic now. Let’s see what happen and review next couple of weeks.

  54. totally agreed, people search for niche must have been focusing on the item too,

    so the traffic from such search enquery should be high quality traffic…

    • Not necessarily… sometime certain keywords that look right may not always bring in the best quality. The idea is the bring em to your site and keep em there by providing good quality.

  55. sell textbooks :

    You have used many great examples, there needs to be some sort of wall of fame for people in the internet industry. Great post.

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  57. Lasse Koivisto :

    Hey Neil,

    “You can make money doing something you don’t love”

    Why the talk is always about the money? It seems that people think that entrepreneurship is about making money what is wrong.

    I like is some ways your post, but in other I don’t see the point. Like “you have to smart”, how in the world could this help someone? I doubt that someone that reads it telks himself “well I’m not smart, so not going for it”. I think you should say “What makes you an entrepreneur is the disare of being one” and “to be succesful you should learn to pivot, be resilient, love deeply what you are doing and etc”.

    Anyway hope you can undestand what I’m saying.

    Cheers and Keep on Rocking in the Free World

  58. I think a great entrepreneur not only has a vision or an idea, but the smarts and determination to set a plan in action and follow it through. Without that focus and mindset there are no entrepreneurs; just dreamers.

  59. Dan - BankVibe :

    When it comes to the operational side of online entrepreneurship, I think being somewhat of a utility player (like in baseball) is necessary. If you’re a one, two or even five man shop – one day you’ll need to throw yourself into marketing the next day you may have to handle design work and the following day you may have to make sales calls. Being a jack of all trades is certainly a must imo!

  60. You can find some attention-grabbing time limits on this write-up on the other hand I do not know if I see all of them heart to heart. There’s some validity however I’ll take hold opinion until I appear into it further. Very good post, thanks and we would like far more! Added to FeedBurner too

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  62. Being self motivated is a must! Without motivation on a day to day basis you won’t ever get tasks done. Ive worked with enough people who do as little as possible just to get by. To be a great entrepreneur you have to do what others aren’t willing to do.. and that might include working weekends, holidays and ungodly hours. But its all for a cause.. because in a few years your work will pay off and you might just be managing people to do what you used to do.. once a week.

    • I agree.
      If you put in the hard work it will eventually pay off.
      I definitely believe if you want to succeed you will have to work for it and like you said that means all hours of pretty much everyday.
      In the long run it will pay off for you.

  63. It’s about desire and how badly you want something. Education is important, but it doesn’t have to be structured, if you get what I mean

  64. They have the ability to continually motivate themselves. Their high standards and their driving ambition demand that they get motivated and stay motivated!

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  67. Entrepreneurs can be based around many aspects, and not just about building wealth of course. A business I know, Your Secure Locksmiths in Nottingham, looks more into building ‘wealth’ based on service, not money. It’s a slightly different concept.

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