The Winning Formula


Over the years, many people have asked me the key to business success. Whether it comes to making your first million -- or second or third -- figuring out the perfect formula is a constant struggle. Does it come down to choosing a trending industry or going with your true passion? I believe the question is not so much how we can succeed but instead how to avoid failure. Business gurus who oversimplify the entrepreneurship process or who romanticize the entrepreneurs' lifestyle can easily persuade ambitious founders. Maybe you are pushed by an emotion or personal experience. There is no wrong motive to walk into this magnificent (but painful) world. However, understanding what pushes us to BYOB (Be Your Own Boss) is as important as understanding what pushes us away.

In The Common Denominator of SuccessAlbert E.N. Gray defines failure by explaining, "The common denominator of success -- the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful -- lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don't like to do." Gray points out how everyone is passionate about some tasks and hates others. The difference between success and failure lies in your sole decision to accomplish a task doing both things you like and dislike. And when you first start out in business, the tasks you dislike will outweigh the ones you love.

For example, I found my first job when I was eight years old, taking phone messages for a neighbor. After that, I asked my mother to give me a job mopping floors and cleaning restrooms. When I was 10, I created my first startup project in partnership with a friend to form a magazine and publish the opinion of the community. I was also washing neighbors' cars with my two dear friends Carlos Luis and Iker, insulating water pipes on people's roofs and washing windows. At 12, I sold belts and socks in the supermarket's parking lot and applied for a job as a groceries bagger. At 16, I was flipping burgers. At 18, I was working as a bank teller and at 21 I formed my first company. My mother never asked me to work. I had food on the table. I went to a private school and had plenty of toys. I hated cooking, disliked cleaning floors, and being in the streets selling to strangers made me so nervously nauseous that I wanted to throw up. But making money far outweighed everything I disliked doing. That is entrepreneurship at its best.

Before defining what area of business you want to get into, you first need to determine if you want to do the things you dislike. Success is not necessarily tied to the type of product or service you sell. You can make it anywhere, but you must be ready to do what you enjoy and what you do not.

You may have started your company because you were tired of being bossed around. Or maybe it was always your dream.  Maybe you inherited a family business. There is no wrong reason if you find the drive to keep you going. But there are no shortcuts. It will take years to succeed. Sometimes it will seem as though everyone is against you. But then, after your first success story, after a sale or your first client complement, it will all be worth it. True entrepreneurs get hooked on business. Entrepreneurship is a way of living -- a choice at first, a lifestyle after that. Nothing can prepare you for the lessons of owning your business. If after everything you've read you still want to be an entrepreneur, then there will never be a better time than now.