There isn't one formulaic way to achieve “success,” or everyone would follow it. My success came from bravery in the face of unexpected challenges and passion for what I do. Building a business is about making your own luck, learning the right lessons and applying them.

When I was a 19-year-old sophomore in college, I worked for my university's foundation. That's a fancy way of saying I asked strangers to give me money for nothing in return . . . for a living. This is not an easy task (look at panhandlers, ever seen a rich one?), but my team became so adept at it that we garnered the attention of a local billionaire real-estate magnate. We became friendly and informal, and he came by to chat on a number of occasions. I will never forget when he told me about his humble beginnings. He sold air conditioners door-to-door in the 1950s and 60s, and he failed miserably. He failed so many times he lost count. He struggled for more than two decades. He didn't make his first million until he was 40 years old, and he kept right on going until he had over 100 million— and he just keeps on going.

Those Posters on Your Third-Grade Classroom Wall Were Right

The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that in 2012, there were approximately 570K startups, and approximately 580K startups that closed down. Fifty-one percent of small businesses last at least five years, and 70 percent make it past the two-year mark. The ones that fail quickly do so because they:

  • Started for the wrong reasons

  • Are planned and managed poorly

  • They over expand too quickly

  • Have insufficient capital

Notice a trend? All of these reasons but one are in your control. That motivational poster of a kitten hanging from a tree was right, you can “hang in there” if you plan carefully, manage efficiently and stay within your means.

Dot Your Is and Cross Your Ts

Big thinkers often have difficulty remembering the little things. Maybe you have a presentation in two days and you know you're going to ace it, but the night before you realize you forgot to order business cards and your suit isn't pressed. Although it's 2013 and you can order business card printing at or find a 24-hour dry cleaning service within 10 miles, the preparation of the details is just as important as the big picture.

While you're dreaming about your yacht in the south of France, someone who ordered their business cards in advance is busy passing them out at the mixer before that monumental presentation. Before you thrust yourself into the spotlight, ask yourself these questions.

  • Do I have everything I need (think from head to toe)?

  • What message is my appearance giving off?

  • Am I ready to learn from those around me?

  • Do I really have everything I need?

Success is Measured by Meeting Expectations

Jonathan Weber, business writer for NBC, remarks that a businesses' success is achieved by expectations more than through performance. He reminds us that a public company can report atrocious earnings and still see their stocks skyrocket. This applies to small businesses and start ups too. Brace yourself for a struggle, prepare for failure, mind the details and don't accept anything but eventual triumph.

By Crystal Doyle

A graduate of business management and communications, Crystal utilizes her knowledge of public relations and applies it to her methods of managing.