Management & Leadership

Key Principles of Entrepreneurship

Key Principles of Entrepreneurship
Building a business is hard. But, it's also fun and exciting and, when things work out, gratifying. Image from Pexabay
Courtney Eiland profile
Courtney Eiland April 8, 2022

Successful entrepreneurs follow a set of core principles that help them weather the challenges of startup life. Here's what you need to know before you launch your new business.

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Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, but two common traits unite them: a belief that they can satisfy an unmet need in the marketplace and a willingness to take risks. However, entrepreneurs are more than just creative, risk-taking small business owners. They are also job creators, wealth creators, and engines of economic growth and development.

Testing the choppy waters of entrepreneurship involves many risks. Many entrepreneurs stake their own personal savings in their startups; the lucky ones fund their businesses with seed money from venture capitalists or buy-in from investors. How do they know the right time to launch their dream enterprise?

To excel as an entrepreneur, you first need to understand the fundamental principles of entrepreneurship. We all know the most prominent entrepreneurial success stories: Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and others embraced as role models in the startup world. What did they know that others didn’t? This article explores that question.

Entrepreneurship principles

As you set out on your entrepreneurial adventure, you may find it helpful to determine which type of entrepreneur you are: the innovator, the serial entrepreneur, the world-changer entrepreneur, or the imitator entrepreneur. Each type of entrepreneur brings a different perspective to their business model, plan, and approach.

You should also consider whether you’re more suited to being an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur, also known as a corporate entrepreneur. Intrapreneurship offers the opportunity to pursue entrepreneurial projects from within the safer (and, often, more constrictive) confines of an established corporation.

Whichever journey applies, embrace these entrepreneurial principles to enjoy the competitive advantage needed to achieve business success.

Build smart

Have you heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder”? That same logic applies to launching a new startup. Doing too much too soon can negatively impact your business by draining your funds, burning out your team, and forcing unnecessary errors caused by rushing to market. Although growth is good for business, implementing practical management skills is even better.

Forbes Advisor lists eight ways to start your business on the right foot:

  • Have the right mindset
  • Refine your business idea
  • Know your competitors and market
  • Create your business plan
  • Choose your business structure
  • Register your business and handle all paperwork
  • Fund your business
  • Market your business

These foundational principles can help guide you through the initial decision-making challenges that, when implemented tactically, can lead to the rewarding success of business growth. Rush them through and you’ll risk business failure.

Recruit a great team

Running a successful business is not a one-person show: you can’t do it all yourself and you shouldn’t want to. It takes assembling key players who have the same drive and motivation to see your business succeed. It’s critical to employ team members you trust to serve the company’s best interests and do their jobs efficiently. When building your team, honesty, competence, and compatibility are vital traits.

Inc. Magazine pinpoints five steps you can follow to build your startup dream team:

  • Identify the types of positions to fill and make sure to employ members with varied talents
  • Consider advisers, skilled contractors, or partners in place of full-time employees
  • Identify candidates to fill available roles
  • Begin your hiring process by conducting interviews with qualified candidates
  • Consider a post-hire assessment and provide opportunities for professional development to sharpen employee skills

Have a vision

As Steve Jobs once put it, “if you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” Every business starts with a vision. That doesn’t mean you stick to it no matter what. Many great companies started out doing one thing and then pivoted when circumstances created opportunities.

Reinventing the vision is one of the six guiding principles of entrepreneurial success. It involves:

  • Using the vision to motivate and challenge yourself and your team
  • Imagining a vision of excellence as a source of satisfaction and enjoyment
  • Changing the vision to take advantage of new opportunities
  • Letting your customers and staff (your greatest assets) shape your vision
  • Using the vision to create a shared purpose

While you can’t predict the future, it’s still essential to set clear business goals (even if they change down the road) to stay focused and efficient.

Be flexible

It’s often said that “the customer is always right.” When it comes to new trends, it’s critical to keep an eye on the market to see what customers want and prepare to adapt to their demands. Customers are among the most important assets to your business. Tapping into the needs of your current customer base allows you to expand your reach into new markets and draw the attention of potential customers, which will collectively impact your bottom line.

Believe in yourself

If you don’t, no one else will. Grit, dedication, and perseverance must be part of your entrepreneurial DNA. Unfortunately, resistance and rejection are part of the growing pains when pitching your business idea in its initial phase. So, in addition to setting business principles, it wouldn’t hurt to include a set of personal ones as well:

  • Define your personal goals and purpose early on
  • Focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses
  • Develop short-term milestones along the path to your dream
  • Maintain a work-life balance, and don’t let the business consume you
  • Never stop learning and growing
  • Build a motivated team that can support your weaknesses

Not every entrepreneur is going to get it right the first time. In those times, make sure to extend yourself some grace and keep pushing forward.

Enjoy the ride

Building a business is hard. But, it’s also fun and exciting and, when things work out, gratifying. You’ve put in the grunt work and clocked countless hours building your business because it’s something that sparks passion and drive. Successful entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy the process—you’re creating something you know is fantastic, no matter the obstacles you’ll face.

Accept that you may fail

Elon Musk once said that “when something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” But unfortunately, 90 percent of startup businesses fail. Some common reasons startups fail include lack of product-market fit, lack of finances to keep the business running, and lack of cohesiveness among team members.

The reasons vary. Many entrepreneurial successes have several failures in their past. It’s possible to do everything right and still not emerge with a successful company. However, letting go of the fear of failure will open up the space for you to take the risks that may be necessary to succeed.

Keep learning

There’s always more to learn. The competition doesn’t stop learning about new opportunities, new applications, new technologies, new analytics—so you can’t stop either. Apply discernment, though; it’s easy to hop on the bandwagon and chase “the next best thing,” but remaining strategic leads to business success.


“I’m ready for a degree!”

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Learning the principles of entrepreneurship

We’ve all heard about self-made business leaders. Although it is possible to succeed as an entrepreneur without an advanced degree, sometimes it’s better to prepare for life’s hard lessons in a classroom than in the real world. It’s better to know what mistakes to avoid before you make them. A traditional MBA provides a solid foundation of business fundamentals but relatively little specific instruction in entrepreneurship. Certificate programs and single courses provide more focused learning at a lower cost and less time invested.

Degree and certificate programs

MBA programs are beginning to add more concentrations and specialized tracks where students can curate their own learning experience. For example, targeted programs like an MBA in Entrepreneurship include full-time or part-time instruction and a choice between hands-on learning in the classroom or the flexibility of online learning.

Single courses

You may not need an MBA or any other graduate degree to learn to be a successful entrepreneur. You may be able to acquire that information from a certificate program or even from a stand-alone course. Many online providers offer such courses—in fact, our company, Noodle Learning, offers one led by Case Western Reserve University’s Michael E. Goldberg, and another led by Columbia University’s Rita McGrath.

Entrepreneurship is not an easy career, and everyone’s journey is different. Some billionaires achieve success without an MBA or even an undergraduate degree. Others have launched businesses taking very calculated risks and still failed. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this business. However, incorporating these principles while you fine-tune your business plan—coupled with gaining the necessary knowledge from relevant courses in entrepreneurship—could become the perfect combination to unlock success.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

To learn more about our editorial standards, you can click here.


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