The Guiding Principles of Entrepreneurial Success:
The Principles

From a research project conducted by Michigan State University and funded by the Edward Lowe Foundation

Based on extensive analysis of the videotaped symposia and the notebooks from the entrepreneurial shadowing, the research team discovered six guiding principles of entrepreneurial success. These six principles represent the essence of the Emergent entrepreneurs' success in getting past the threshold dividing the smaller Emerging entrepreneurs from those who have fulfilled the promise of size and sustained growth. This threshold was labeled the "Brick Wall". It is the critical point of transition in the growth and development of an entrepreneurial company.

Statistics indicate that many start-up firms manage to struggle successfully through the first year or two of their existence. However, something happens soon after. Sales level off, margins decline, cash flow stalls, and competitors begin to pay attention to that early success. Only a few entrepreneurs survive this critical period, or, in other words, manage to get over the brick wall. This brick wall is the critical boundary between an Emerging entrepreneur and Emergent entrepreneur.

The research team, discovered 6 principles for overcoming the brick wall and making the transition to sustained growth. The successful entrepreneurs revealed a consistent pattern of events that served as indicators for recognizing the brick wall and the demand for change in their companies.

Some of the key points the entrepreneurs made had to do with recognizing the signs of the brick wall. For example, trying to do everything and getting burnt out, or working day and night but with no positive effect on sales, being unwilling to make the investments required to grow, or the lack of understanding of pricing for growth. As new companies hit the brick wall, successful entrepreneurs warn that growth must be re-ignited or business failure may result. With growth comes change. Frequently, Entering and Emerging entrepreneurs fail to realize change must occur within themselves as well as how they run their company. These necessary changes are presented in the 6 Guiding Principles for restoring entrepreneurial success.

The Guiding Principles are designed to reignite business growth and restore entrepreneurial success. Each principle has several maxims that further specifies the general concept, each of which will be summarized in turn. These principles and maxims represent a "best practices" composite of the successful Emerging and Emergent entrepreneurs. What follows is not intended to represent a typical successful entrepreneur.

Guiding Principles for Entrepreneurial Success

    1. Reinventing the Vision

    2. Success With Persistent Opportunism

    3. Surrender Sovereignty

    4. Become Your Competitors' Worst Nightmare

    5. Nurture the Entrepreneurial Spirit

    6. Unstoppable Companies Through Teamwork


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