Not everyone is born with entrepreneurial drive. But for those who are, the desire is strong to hang a shingle, launch a venture, or spark a startup. Once the self-employment dream takes hold, it’s hard to deny its strong pull, prompting many motivated self-starters to pull the trigger on an independent enterprise.

If you’re among the unique group of people, set on making a living on your own terms, starting a small business may be an inevitable rung on your vocational ladder, satisfying a burning desire for self-inspired employment. Committing to the prospect of business ownership is a reasonable first step, but you may be asking yourself: What should I do next?

As you brainstorm ideas and begin formulating a business plan, tracking successful entrepreneurs and modeling their behavior can help take some of the guesswork out of the unfamiliar process of growing a small business from scratch. Motley Fool CEO, Tom Gardner, recently shared insight on the subject, highlighting his personal tips for turning a startup venture into an unmitigated success. Adopting his top recommendations can help you turn brainstorming sessions into actionable startup strategies.

Partner Properly and Build a Solid Support Structure

Launching a business with the right partner can make the difference between a long, prosperous run and a disappointingly short spell, atop your own entrepreneurial enterprise. Motley Fool’s Tom Gardner considers himself very fortunate to have aligned early-on with his brother. David Gardner has been with the organization from its early days, and the brothers also received lots of help from their father, as they built the Fool from the ground up.

Sprout Funding logoYou don’t necessarily need to surround yourself with relatives to be successful; many operators would rather be part of the family, than the family business. But pairing with a competent, trusted teammate serves as a leg-up for entrepreneurs. Not only does the proper partner cover your back in business, but the right individual also provides motivation, when it’s most needed.

Innovate and Don’t Shy Away From Calculated Risk  

Financial risk is a part of any business venture, so you always want to go into an enterprise with your financial forecasts in order. As important as it is to limit your financial exposure when launching a startup, other types of risk can be beneficial to your budding business.

Motley Fool is a web resource, offering investing insight; a major risk helped its founders draw attention and build their reputation in the investment industry. Fool CEO, Tom Gardner, and his brother took an early risk that paid off, choosing to promote a phony stock, as a prank. The innovative entrepreneurs used an online discussion board to spread information about a fictitious stock, which ultimately cemented an online partnership between the risk-taking brothers and America Online. The rest is history; Motley Fool is now a global brand, helping the investing public.

Identify and Accept Your Limitations

Like people from all walks of life, entrepreneurs naturally have strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your personal limitations is a key feature of effective business building and management. In the case of Mr. Gardner, he excels at formulating new ideas, but admittedly falls short executing them. Knowing what you’re good at (and bad at) provides two immediate advantages, compared to embracing omnipotence.

  1. Accepting your personal shortcomings can help you avoid learning lessons the hard way. If you’re poorly equipped to manage financials, for instance, hiring a competent accountant mitigates financial disaster, propping-up your area of weakness.
  2. Realistic self-assessment is essential for startup team building, enabling you to surround yourself with proper talent. Having the right people on board also expands your own understanding and business savvy, helping you develop into a well-rounded business professional.


The value of a well-articulated business plan can’t be understated, but startup entrepreneurs must also be willing to adapt. According to Mr. Gardner, successful long-term businesses embrace change. With your core values intact, he recommends fluid responses to shifting consumer preferences, changes within the overall economy, and flexibility, adapting your goods and services.

Maintain Perennial Interest

Launching a business is only the beginning of your entrepreneurial adventure – you’re most likely in it for the long haul. Embarking in a direction that’ll hold your interest gives you a better chance of enduring, while still having fun, running your business. Tom Gardner found the right balance with the Motley Fool. What’s your passion? Before making startup commitments, envision the future, with an eye toward personal fulfillment. If you can’t see yourself engaged in similar activities 5, 10, and even 20 years down the road, it may be a red flag, signaling second thoughts.

Make a Name for Yourself

Effective branding is more important than ever, as new businesses jockey for position in a competitive marketplace. Carving out a recognizable niche starts with a great business name. To jump-start branding success, settle on a moniker that flows with your concept. Motley Fool chose a slightly tongue-in-cheek approach, which continues setting apart the organization from competitors with more pedestrian brand emblems.

The process of launching a business is full of obstacles, challenges, and unfamiliar activities. Whenever possible, studying successful entrepreneurs can help lead you through the intimidating maze of startup concerns. Motley Fool CEO, Tom Gardner, is a proven practitioner, having built his investor resource business into a global brand. Whether you’re poised to launch, or still in the early phases of business brainstorming, the valuable tips shared here can help you avoid costly errors and inspire you to entrepreneurial achievement.

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