Skip to main content

You are here

15 Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Entrepreneurs

by David K. William | The Web Writer Spotlight: Dec 22, 2014


Want to succeed in your craft or entrepreneurial venture?

There is no secret formula for success. Ordinary people achieve success through hard work, the right choices, persistence and a bit of luck. It is critical that you identify whether your habits are moving you forward towards your goals or setting you up for failure. Keep in mind it’s the little things you do each day that determine whether you will be among the successful people or the unsuccessful people of the world. Here are habits of spectacularly unsuccessful entrepreneurs and artists - including writers - that set them up to fail.


1. They doubt themselves too much.


A little self-doubt is not bad. It allows you to be cautious and not make rush decisions. However, when you are always doubting whether you are good enough, it can be a problem. Too much self doubt makes you vulnerable to quit when things get a little rough. And quitting when things get rough is not a good thing. The most successful people in the world are not quitters. They believe in their dreams and their ability to make those dreams come true. You’ve got to believe in yourself and your abilities, or no one else will.


2. They try to reinvent the wheel.


While it’s possible to bring something entirely new into the world, constantly trying to reinvent the wheel is not the best path to follow. Of course, no artist or entrepreneur wants to be seen as an imitator, but the most successful creators and inventors in history learned from those who came before them. Even Shakespeare borrowed almost all of his work from other writers, but in the end there is no doubt that he made them distinctively his own. Study your niche thoroughly, master the model and then create your own version of it. That is how smart, successful entrepreneurs and artists do it.


3. They wait for the perfect moment.


Timing is vital in life but don’t buy into the myth of the "perfect moment." Moments are what you make of them. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs waste their lives and talents waiting around for the stars to align before they do what they were meant to do years ago. Don't be one of these people. Perfectionism is a recipe for disappointment and unhappiness. There might be a good time to do something, but not the perfect time. The best time to do something, however, was yesterday. The next best time is right now.   


4. They cling to worries and fears.


Smart artists and entrepreneurs sometimes worry whether they made the right decision. They question whether they are on the right track and what the future holds in their chosen career path. That is normal and expected. However, unsuccessful artists and entrepreneurs dwell too much on worries and fears and it cripples their efforts and plans for success. Let go of fears and focus instead on your dreams. If your dreams are strong enough, you are strong enough to beat your fears. Corrie ten Boom said it best: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”


5. They don’t see beyond challenges.


Everyone goes through trials and tribulations sometimes. Successful artists and entrepreneurs are ready for the tough times. They see challenges as a test of their resolve and persevere, knowing better things lie ahead. A bad day is nothing more than a bad day to them. Spectacularly unsuccessful artists and entrepreneurs, however, see times of adversity as the end of their dream. They make a mountain out of a molehill and can’t see beyond the challenges. This makes them stumble, fall and fail to get up. No matter how difficult things get, good things come to those who persevere—the sun always shines after the storm.


6. They underestimate obstacles.


Obstacles can knock you down and prevent you from reaching your goals if you are not careful. Successful artists and entrepreneurs understand this and leave nothing to chance. They are confident they can do it, but still keep a healthy sense of paranoia. Spectacularly unsuccessful artists and entrepreneurs, however, are overconfident and think they can’t fail. They brush off obstacles, potential threats and don’t think through plans. This means they are not as cautious and deliberate as they need to be. Andy Grove, ex-Intel CEO rightly says, “Only the paranoid survive.” A healthy dose of paranoia is critical if you are going to remain well grounded with realities in your industry.  


7. They make it all about money.


Far too many aspiring artists and entrepreneurs make money the sole purpose of everything they do. While making more money certainly can help open doors of opportunity, relieve some stress and give you some semblance of peace of mind, it cannot compare to the inner peace, contentment and pride you get knowing your artistic or entrepreneurial venture is making a difference in someone else’s life. Successful artists and entrepreneurs, therefore, don’t make money the end game for success. They measure their success more by how much of an impact they are making in life. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs make it all about money only to realize later that all the money in the world cannot make you happy.


8. They try to make a big difference all at once.


You cannot help everyone all at once. Unsuccessful artists and entrepreneurs try to make a big difference in one sweeping go only to end up frustrated, stressed out and disillusioned. Successful artists and entrepreneurs, however, start making a difference slowly, beginning with the world around them. Focus on one person at a time, starting with the person closest to you, and then reach out to the rest of the world. Chances are you will make one person smile and the ripple effect of that one smile will catch on and make the masses smile. It’s practical, fairly easy and less stressful to do it that way.  


9. They try to do it all by themselves.


Spectacularly unsuccessful artists and entrepreneurs never relinquish control or let others help them on anything. They have a ‘King Midas Complex’ and think everything they touch will turn to gold. What they fail to see is that nobody can do it all. At some point you will need to put your faith in others who are more talented, experienced and or skilled than you. Allow them to help you take your business to the next level. Successful artists and entrepreneurs show faith and trust in others and it makes them better. They are not afraid to admit when they are stuck somewhere and need help. Let others in on your vision, actively seek help when you need it and quit micro-managing, or life will get depressing in a hurry.


10. They compare themselves to others.


Constantly comparing yourself to others is a crappy habit that does not do any one any good. Yet, unsuccessful artists and entrepreneurs do it all the time. They are always wondering what other people are doing and burning with jealousy when others succeed. They secretly wish others fail and that’s a shame because that negative energy could be used in more productive ways. Successful artists and entrepreneurs, however, know jealousy and envy holds you back. They only check what others are doing to learn what is working and improve their own craft. Stop comparing the inside of you to the outside of someone else. Everybody is unique, situations vary and we all grow at our own pace.


11. They think they know it all.


Nobody knows everything but spectacularly unsuccessful artists and entrepreneurs walk around with their noses in the air as if they have the answer to every question. They are proud, stubborn and think they can’t be wrong. In contrast, successful artists and entrepreneurs are humble, open minded and ready and willing to learn. They know the day you stop learning is the day you are dead. Ask questions and listen attentively to anyone who has something important to say. Play dumb if that is what it takes to pick the brain of someone else and be eager to learn new ideas and ways of doing things from others. That’s how to open a flood gate of knowledge and information.


12. They avoid risks.


Life is about taking risks. Anybody who avoids risk and eschews change cannot grow. Spectacularly unsuccessful artists and entrepreneurs do both, especially when they have achieved a bit of success and are comfortably meeting their basic needs. Successful artists and entrepreneurs, however, take the plunge, risk and sacrifice it all for a greater purpose. They embrace innovation and push the boundaries to reach their full potential. If you avoid risk and cling to your comfort zone, you are not ready to grow and don’t deserve to succeed. Be courageous enough to follow your heart and bold enough to take calculated risks. You will be happy you tried and have no regrets for it.


13. They ignore networking, marketing and promotion.


Spectacularly unsuccessful artists and entrepreneurs think that if they build it clients, readers and customers will automatically come. It doesn’t work like that. People won’t know you or your business exist unless you get out there and let them know you exist. You’ve got to do the leg work and promote yourself. As difficult as it may be to put yourself out there, network and promote your work, doing so is necessary for your success. Denise Morrison, ranked among the top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World by Forbes magazine, recognizes this fact and offers this advice: “Network, because networking is working. Your ability will only take you so far. Your relationships will take you the rest of the way.”


14. They blame others for their mistakes.


Spectacularly unsuccessful artists and entrepreneurs love to point fingers and blame others for their own mistakes. They look for excuses and cook up flimsy reasons why something didn’t work instead of admitting fault and looking into what went wrong. That means unsuccessful entrepreneurs never learn from their mistakes and, therefore, are prone to make the same mistakes again. Successful artists and entrepreneurs, however, take responsibility for their actions and never shift blame. They admit fault, apologize as necessary and learn from mistakes. That means successful artists and entrepreneurs are unlikely to make the same mistake twice. Shifting blame is the easy way out. Don’t do it.


15. They undervalue hard work.


Spectacularly unsuccessful artists and entrepreneurs undervalue hard work and look for short cuts, free handouts and miracles. They are always hoping to get a lucky break and hit the jackpot. They want things to come easy and usually end up frustrated and bitter when instant gratification and quick fixes don’t come. Successful artists and entrepreneurs, however, have a strong work ethic. They know success is for those who work hard and get things done. Successful artists and entrepreneurs don’t do the bare minimum and pat themselves on the back for doing something. They do their absolute best and then let the universe take care of the rest. Work hard. It's been proven time and again hard work pays.

If you enjoyed reading this, please add a thought in the comments below.


See Also: 9 Things Exceptional Writers Habitually Do So Well.


David K. William is a web writer, blogger and entrepreneur. Everything he writes is inspired by life experiences and study. David is also founding editor of Follow him on Twitter @DavidKWilliam.

Image via



SHARE: Share to Facebook   Share to Twitter   Share to LinkedIn    More +                           Share to E-mail  E-mail    Printr  Print


Subscribe to our Newsletter

morenews_arrow.gif  Get all the latest news, tips & inspiration in your inbox free!

No spam email. Just great tips. Promise.



Recommended read

Thanks for supporting WWS with these affiliate links.