avatarB. Wright


3 Predictors of Business Success

Don’t think of another idea until you answer these questions

Generated with AI by Microsoft Bing Image Creator by DALL-E 3

And just like that, we are nearing the end of another year.

Another year, many will sit around the dinner table, living room, or local lounge having drinks when someone says they’re tired of the rat race and want to start their own business in the new year. People will lean forward, eagerly asking, “So what are you thinking of doing?”

The conversation will quickly turn to the execution of the idea and what it will be like day-to-day, often skipping the most critical questions. But family and friends are supposed to be supportive, and not grill you on all the reasons why you won’t succeed… maybe that’s why I don’t have a lot of friends.

I’ve been where many people will sit this year, pondering their next chapter in life. Going off to design another logo, trademark another business name, securing the domain for a website, all while ignoring that the business is dead before it’s even born.

The reasons are so simple why so many businesses are dead on arrival, but there’s more money to be made in selling dreams and marketing tools.

So, if you want to cut through the clutter next year (or any year), these are the only questions you need to ask to truly understand if your business has any chance of success.

What do I enjoy doing?

The first two factors of success are highly correlated, but we’ll take them one at a time because there are some nuances that people often overlook.

On the surface, asking what you enjoy seems like a very straightforward question, but when you put things in the context of earning a living, the most benign desire can be an albatross around your neck.

When I was in middle school, I was the kid who had to doodle in every notebook. I just didn’t watch cartoons like every other child, I wanted to learn how to actually draw these characters. From Tom & Jerry, Mickey Mouse, and ThunderCats, I had dozens of books on creating animations, character expressions, and even hand gestures. I went on to be the graphic designer for the yearbook in both middle school and high school, but my love for drawing quickly waned as I got older.


“Art” in my younger years was done for me, art as a young adult became something for someone else. It came with demands, timelines, and multiple edits. Art is very personal and I quickly realized I could never be a professional graphic designer as I was too slow and too tied to my work — it was bad enough beating myself up for designs I thought could be better, the last thing I needed was a team critiquing my work.

So, while I enjoy graphic design, I would never work in or launch my own firm. I would be a terrible business owner in this space given the context of what a successful business owner needs to be and do in this space.

Lesson: Before proclaiming you absolutely love doing XYZ, ask yourself if your passion holds through in a myriad of scenarios.

You like baking cakes, but if you had to get up every morning at 4 am to go to the bakery, would you still enjoy baking?

Many writers on Medium obviously enjoy writing, but if you had to work for a newspaper, and they told you what to write, and when to write it, would you still love writing in that context?

Overlooking these details and simply doing something you generically enjoy is why so many people fail.

What am I good at?

I am one who simply won’t enjoy something I can’t get good at — not everyone is like this. The world is your oyster when you are good at something and really enjoy doing it. Many people aren’t so lucky.

I was good in math through high school but was heavily creative, so I split the difference and went to college for engineering. It seemed like a happy medium where I could create designs to my heart’s content, and then do the math to ensure the product would technically work. Unfortunately, in the real world, you may have to focus a lot of your time on the pieces of the project that you’re not the best at AND you don’t enjoy.

Some people are terrible with numbers so they strictly stick with the art side of things. Others can calculate how to travel to Mars and survive on the planet, but you wouldn’t want them designing your habitat. The world needs both people and that’s not a problem when working for a large company that allows for different roles with different skill sets.

When you’re a small business owner, you don’t always have that luxury.

If you’ve read some of my real estate articles, you’ll know, that I mistakenly thought real estate was about selling houses, only to find out it was more about selling people on why they should like me (and let me work with them). I was good at completing paperwork and following processes for a smooth closing; I was terrible at networking and being patient with picky sellers and buyers.

And just like enjoyment, being good at something comes with a host of caveats.

You’re good enough to be the best tennis player in your state, but does that extend to the world if your dream is to be a top professional player?

Are you still good at your skills if there is a deadline and you’re working under pressure?

If you are good at something now, are you willing to continue your education for 5, 10, or 20 years down the road to maintain being good?

Those cartoons I used to draw were done by hand, now almost everything is done on the computer. I am old enough to remember when a mechanic could own an auto shop and repair almost anything in-house; now mechanics have to diagnose electrical problems that require a new motherboard from China — ask me how I know.

With improvements and more competition comes more complexity in running a successful business, even the small ones. Good eventually becomes not good enough.

If your product is amazing, but you’re bad at promoting it, do you have a plan to overcome that? Contrary to popular belief, many things don’t sell themselves. In fact, some of the worst products just have great marketing.

Lesson: You’ll have the most success when you start a business in something you are good at that you also enjoy and can deliver in a multitude of situations.

Additional Lesson: The more aspects of a business you’re good at, the more likely you will succeed. A new business owner is required to wear many hats — how many hats will fit your head well?

Will people give me their own money for it?

Lastly, and definitely the most important — the best product, offered with the biggest smile, means nothing if people won’t part with their own money… emphasis on “their own money.”

It’s a big difference when someone gives a reference to someone they’ve heard other people use versus the guy they have personally used and can show their product or service. A second-hand reference is nice, but ultimately, you need a direct connection to your raving customers. Those are the ones that will be loyal repeat buyers.

Getting people to give you money for your products and services can be like selling items at the neighborhood yard sale when you’re first starting out. People will nickel-and-dime, and balk at every price you set for an item. But if you put that same item out on the curb for free, neighbors will show up under cover of darkness with ski masks on to gladly take those items off your hands.

Add to the fact that there are so many more scammers these days with social media and lower-quality products; it makes it harder for an honest person with a good product or service to get through the initial launch phase.

Ask yourself, “Am I really creating enough value with this offering?” Then, ask your potential customers if they agree.

Lesson: An idea is worthless if people are not willing to pay for it; otherwise, your venture is just a hobby — I’ve had many of those.

This is especially important to note if you have odd tastes/preferences in things. I’m the guy who has gone into a famous coffee shop to order hot chocolate. I’m the guy who loves Amazon because I always need some super special, unique item that’s never stocked in stores.

Coming up with viable business ideas can be challenging when you don’t follow social norms.


Whether you’re ready to start your first podcast or have a new spin on ice cream mixed with real donuts (send royalties to my profile), answering these 3 critical questions will save a lot of time and missteps in your next business venture.

No one sets out to fail, and I want everyone to win in life, but businesses are after all… business.

Long hours, increased cost of goods, and changing customer behaviors, are all things that will come after your epiphany during the holiday party.

So, you better enjoy what you plan on doing, be good at, and know there is a market.

Visit my profile to read more viewpoints and stories from me!

Startup Lessons
Recommended from ReadMedium