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11 Secrets to a Happy Entrepreneurial Life

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Serial Entrepreneur and father of Michael and Joshua Dunlop, Barry Dunlop reveals his Top Tips / Lessons for all entrepreneurs, both new and experienced.

“The master of the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion.

He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.To him, he is always doing both”

The above Zen Buddhist Text perhaps more than any other piece of literature sums up for me my Entrepreneurial / Life ideals.

When you live so that both work and play are entwined in a fulfilling way then you live a very good and rewarding life indeed.

successful and happy entrepreneur

These entrepreneurial lessons are focused on mainly one thing – that of living a happy fulfilling life — emotionally, mentally and spiritually. (and financially)

Accept and understand these lessons and your life as an entrepreneur will be a happier one. Even the challenges of being an entrepreneur can be turned around into positives!

1) There are No Guarantees

There are no guarantees. I often meet people who have gone into business and one year down the line, two years down the line, or even just one week down the line they are all depressed and down in the dumps, because somehow somewhere they made a mistake. They thought there were some guarantees that come with being an entrepreneur. Regrettably there are not.

There will be occasions when your customers will not pay you. There will be occasions when the people who supply goods to you, or services to you will let you down. That is just the way it is, accept it.

And third, and possibly the most important, often your customers will think these issues are actually your fault, and it is not. Just get on with it. Really, there are no guarantees.

2) Know the Numbers

I can’t tell you how many times I meet entrepreneurs who don’t know the numbers. They don’t actually know if they are making money or not making money with a business.

I don’t consider myself an accountant or somebody who is particularly good with numbers but I do understand this – I have to have more CASH coming in than I have going out.

If you don’t know for a fact that that is the case, then stop what you are doing right now and go find out. If it so happens more is going out than coming in – then ask yourself what you can do about it? Take less salary? Reduce your “entertainment” costs? There is always ways to save money in a business.

Of course sometimes in business (especially if it is a start-up) you will have less money coming in than you have going out for a little while – in that case, it is even more essential you know the Numbers!

3) Perfection is for suckers

These days I like to say “Perfection is for suckers” but originally I said Perfection is Over-rated!

Either way it is an important point to take on board.

Some of you will have already heard me say: “That good enough is good enough” or mention the 51 percent rule. If you are right or correct 51 percent of the time you are a winner. Take those odds to Vegas and you would bet all day at 51 percent.

Too many people decide that being in business is about being perfect. Let me tell you it is not about being perfect. In fact, being in life is not about being perfect. We are imperfect beings and we will continue to be imperfect all of our lives.

Remember good enough is good enough. Sometimes getting a product created, just getting it out there is all that really matters.

I will be fair; I will give one exception to this. If I was in the hotel business, or a restaurant or something like that, where it is a real intensive service business, sometimes good enough is not good enough – then you would perhaps aim to for a good deal better than 51%

4) Tame the Ego

So many of us in life are always, always, always wanting to be the center of attention, to be seen as the big person. I wish I had learned this lesson earlier in my life. Tame the ego. The ego will fool us and will trick us.

Another way of putting it is: please, please, especially if you are a business owner, give credit (praise) to others. The people working in your organizations, the people who are working with you are partnering with you.

I discovered that the more credit (praise and acknowledgement) I gave to other people somehow the more credit I got myself. I can’t really explain it, but the more credit I give away the more I get back.

I think it was Zig Ziglar who said:

that you can get everything in life that you want if you help enough other people to get what they want. Please tame the ego, I promise you it will serve you well.

5) You will never have an Awesome idea in the office

One thing which I especially have worked out in recent years is that you will never have a really awesome, mind blowing, out of this world idea in the office.

I am not saying that you won’t occasionally have some ideas in the office or while working in the business but I will say I have had my best ideas away from the traditional working environment.

I get some of my best ideas when out for a walk or even on the treadmill at the gym. One of my favourite pastimes is to walk the dog along the beach here in West Sussex in England – these days I take my iphone with me and make NOTES on it when I have ideas – but you can also use a voice recorder or just a sheet of paper and pen.

Please, please get out of the office or normal work environment more often. Go to places where you can relax and just let the subconscious take care of whatever your challenge is. Your subconscious mind is your most obedient servant. What you ask it with intent -it will answer. But if you don’t ask and don’t get in the right environment, it will not answer.

Thinking hard does not work, but relaxing hard does

6) Success, is not the goal. Happiness is the goal.

Success, whatever that might be, is not the goal. Happiness is the goal. When we go into business some of us think, “All right, success is the goal. I want to make this amount of money, I want to have this car, I want to take this holiday, I want to live in this home.

Actually I should elaborate on this – because you see Happiness is really a choice, more than a goal. You see you can make up your mind right now TO BE HAPPY.

So often, people believe that “I will be happy when I have a Ferrari. I will be happy when I am married. I will be happy whenever.”The truth of the matter in my experience, is you’re happy when you decide you’re happy.

As entrepreneurs, we set ourselves goals or targets like – “This time next year, I’m going to be a millionaire,” or “This time next year, my business is going to be turning over this amount of money,” or “This time next year, I’m going to have this level of income.”

Nothing wrong with that – but the fact is that if you are HAPPY, then you already are SUCCESSFUL in my opinion.

7) Winners are Givers

When I first went into business, or first got into personal development people said, “Barry, associate yourself with winners. Hang out with winners and you will be a winner.” It is a good saying and I agree – but recently I have changed it a little.

You see, as I have got older I have discovered that the real secret is that Winners Are Givers.

Winning entrepreneurs are always givers. They are people who, support worthwhile causes, support charities. But they are also the kind of people who will lend a hand with a tip or some encouragement at a critical moment in your life.

I mentor a number of young entrepreneurs (and even not so young) – people that I love and I care about. This is just one way it is possible for me to “repay” the help I have received from my many mentors over the years. You see, what goes around, comes around 😉

I believe fervently that entrepreneurs make the world go round. I know free enterprise and capitalism is much maligned and much put down, but for me being an entrepreneur is one of the best things in world to do. Entrepreneurs set both themselves and others FREE. Imagine what the world would be like without entrepreneurs?

8) Be a Stand Out Entrepreneur/Marketer

Standout marketing really means that somehow there’s something unique and different about you, which makes other people talk about you.

In other words: “be REMARKABLE” .

Now, I happen to live in England. And this is sort of an accidental advantage I had, which I didn’t appreciate at the time because I am an Irishman living in England.

And I was referred to, “the Irishman,”“the Irish guy.”“Oh, you remember him? The Irish guy.” Have you ever wondered why emigrants often make some of the most successful Entrepreneurs? I believe in part it is because they stand out!

Of course there is more interesting and entertaining ways to be remarkable – take for example Maverick Adventurer and Entrepreneur – Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group.

A phrase often used is USP, unique selling proposition, or unique selling point. What is your unique selling point? It could be a certain advantage you have over your competition. Take that USP and make it even more remarkable – add your own personal spin on it.

If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, I have to tell you something – there is no use being shy.

9) Don’t Spend The “Profits’ Until You have actualy earned them!

In other words, don’t go around flashing the cash, buying fast cars, swanky properties etc until you have actually earned that reward!

Have you ever met an entrepreneur or so-called successful person who has all the toys, all the Glam — but is hopelessly in debt underneath it all?

I know I have – many times.

You see so many entrepreneurs use their business as there own private bank to raid at every whim for whatever new toy they take a fancy to.

Your personal finances and business finances are separate. Even if you appear to be making a lot of money and have cash in the bank remember there are Tax Bills etc to pay.

So often I have seen entrepreneurs achieve some success and then go off enjoying themselves at every possible moment – often to such an extent that their business suffers and suddenly they wake up one day madly in debt.

Do not make this mistake.

I have a clear policy – I will enjoy the Rewards when I believe I have truly earned the right to enjoy those rewards

Now, this is not being negative. This is just being a cautious, respectable businessperson who appreciates that you have to plan for lots of different eventualities. People who know me well, know that I have a plan B, a plan C,
and even sometime’s a plan D. And yet a lot of entrepreneurs only have this one plan. When that one plan fails, they fail.

10) Success is a trickster

Success is a trickster – It makes a fool out of all of us – if you let it.

What I mean by that is, especially when you start to have some success, you can believe that you’re a lot more gifted than you really are. I’ve made this mistake.

In my 20s, I was extremely successful in sales. I had never experienced failure. I was a remarkable salesperson. All I’d ever had was great income. After a while, you actually believe your own publicity, and you believe that everything you do turns to gold. Unfortunately for me it was not a never ending success story and in 1989 I lost a business I had founded along with all my personal wealth at that time.

Perhaps the most dangerous thing in the world for an entrepreneur, is to NOT experience failure.

Bill Gates puts it extremely well when he says:

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose”

11) Fall down seven times, stand up eight AND Money grows on the tree of persistence

Both of the above quotes are actually Japanese proverbs

I like them because for me they represent the essential secret to success in anything and especially as an entrepreneur.

Listen; there will be many times in life when we will fall down, the important thing is to stand up again. Get up again.

I have probably fallen down a lot more times than seven times. But I have stood up a hell of a lot more times than I have ever fallen down. That is possibly the single most important lesson that anybody needs to learn in life.

Life is about evolving, it is about becoming, I hope, a better person as we move along. We certainly shouldn’t be becoming a worse person.

Don’t give up if at first you don’t succeed, because you won’t succeed at first (no one does).

For an even happier Entrepreneurial Life Seek Out and Join a Mastermind Today!

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best”

~ Epictetus, (the Stoic philosopher)

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  1. zephorah says:

    This is a great article to begin the morning with:-)

    #5 is sooo true. I hardly ever get my greatest ideas sitting at a computer. It happens when I’m at museums or just taking a walk.

    I find all of these points extremely useful. Thanks dad!

  2. Nice article with insightful words about entrepreneurship.
    I too had some big success (for me) and it was short lived indeed, only a few months, now I take one year to make the money of one of those months. And it was way back in 2010, I hope this kind of success comes back, but if not that’s ok too, I’m not going back to working for a boss anyway 🙂

  3. Nicholas Tart says:

    Great write-up, Barry. I enjoyed learning more about your journey and your lessons. 1989 must’ve been a challenging year, especially with little Michael coming into the world. 🙂

  4. magezi sadat says:

    every thing there is well thought of,you propably did agood
    research.i love the phrase “WINNERS ARE GIVERS”

  5. Find out what you love to do….Figure out how you can get paid to do it….And you will never work a day in your life!

    This is my motto and it really relates to the opening Zen Buddist Text. I am so grateful for this very holistic and conscious approach to entrepreneurship. I see why Barry has nurtured great men and great business men in his two boys.

    Congratulations for having such a great Dad. It is so fitting since Father’s Day is around the corner.

    You are blessed Michael and Joshua……

    I will have my budding kidpreneur son, Rriiver Nyile, read this. This is just awesome…

    Love it!!!!!

  6. Previsha says:

    Great article to encourage me. Life is not always rainbows and sunshine and you going to have to work hard to reward yourself with treats.

  7. Christopher says:

    Happiness is definitely the goal, though that often comes through ones successes. And I’d like to throw another spin on #3 and say that perfection is for losers. This is not to be mistaken for striving for perfection as that’s an extremely admirable quality, but one that entrepreneurs must handle delicately. In our quest for perfection, we can’t forget to take imperfect action first. Otherwise it just ends up being a total loss because by the time we reach that original picture of perfection, the picture has changed and it’s not perfect anymore…it’s more likely obsolete. 🙂

  8. md mahmudul hasan says:

    hi you are good writer. I want to follow your steps.

  9. You always inspire me. I Love your articles. All time my favorites. Thank You Barry Dunlop

  10. great love this site it pushes me forward everyday

  11. Success, is not the goal. Happiness is the goal. Excellent point and happy that you mentioned it. We have to enjoy what we do to the fullest and then the success is magnetized by that passion.

  12. Chris J (Construction Contractor) says:

    For a long time, I’ve wanted success to come in the form of money. Recently I have come to understand that you can have a lot of money but even more trouble and sense of guilt (if the money came the wrong way).

    I now pray for wisdom. No matter the financial situation I am in today or tomorrow, I want to be there knowing that I made the right decision.

  13. Damien Willis says:

    Well I’m printing this out, that’s for goddamn sure. Bookmarked too. There is some advice here that I really need to take on board and think (or relax?) long and hard about.

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