14 Unorthodox Tips for Becoming Successful in Business

successful in business

It’s no secret that you don’t become successful in business by doing the same thing the others guys are doing. Being able to take calculated risks is all part of the fun of being a small business owner — and understanding how to differentiate your business from the rest is a special skill most entrepreneurs spend their careers honing.

That’s why we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question:

“What is your most unorthodox tip for becoming successful in business?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Sell Joy

“Stop focusing on selling your product or service; instead, focus on the joy your company creates, and let that drive your growth. Scale the joy. Systematize how you deliver the joy. Sell the joy.” ~ Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

2. Become an Expert in Something

“If you’re an expert in one aspect of your business, you’ll be able to share your expertise and drive new business because of it. Contribute to publications that reach your target audience, and they’ll come to you for more expertise and assistance.” ~ Kelsey Meyer, Contributor Weekly

3. Deliver Happiness

“I am a huge fan of the Zappos “delivering happiness” movement. I think that the paradigm for how companies and customers interact is changing in a big way. When I see examples of terrible customer service, it makes me shake my head. Delighting your customers is the fastest way to grow a hugely successful business.” ~ Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

4. Befriend Your Competitors

“I meet with anyone who is or could be competitive. Competitors could be your acquirer; you could merge with a competitor, or you could buy them. So it’s best to position yourself as best as you can without revealing strategy.” ~ Sarah Ware, Markerly

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Fire Customers

“You cannot please everyone, so find the customers who fit your company, and don’t waste your time on customers who don’t.” ~ Suzanne Smith, Social Impact Architects

6. Remember Business Is Personal

“Business is personal. This is contrary to every cliché you will hear about leading an organization. But at the end of the day, all you have as a business person in the 21st century is your relationships — not factories, widgets or pipelines.” ~ Panos Panay, Sonicbids

7. Don’t Work All the Time

“When I was young, I used to pull all-nighters a few times a week and would average only a few hours of sleep a night. Looking back, my life was totally unbalanced. I was far less productive and extremely unhealthy in general. Now, I have dinner with my kids, work out every day, do yoga, maintain a reasonable balance and get way more done than when I “worked” more hours.” ~ Danny Boice, Speek

8. Do Things That Don’t Scale

“These are the words of the great Paul Graham, and we have implemented this to great effect at DJZ. At the beginning of a company’s existence, you often have to undergo time-consuming tasks to recruit customers that wouldn’t make sense on a huge scale (e.g., personal thank-you letters to customers or gathering new signups in person). These initial unscalable gestures are what ignite the flywheel.” ~ Michael Simpson, DJZ

9. Run a Half Marathon Every Year

“When you’re the founder of a startup, your company is on your mind all the time. In fact, you can run into some major personal issues by not being able to properly “shut off” from business mode. I’ve found that signing up for a major athletic event like a half marathon is a great way to de-stress. It forces you to train every day and focus on something besides your business.” ~ Eric Bahn, Hustle Con Media

10. Break Rules

“Sure, rules are great. They create momentary stability and processes we can all adhere to, but breaking them for the right reasons can lead to breakthroughs, unique experiences and stories that build businesses and brands in unimaginable ways.” ~ Henry Glucroft, Henry’s / Airdrop

11. Don’t Try to Do It All

“Get out of your own way. It’s easy to get caught up trying to do everything in a business when really you should be focusing on removing yourself as a bottleneck. Entrepreneurs should spend their time building systems and plans for their business and watching things happen. Being CEO doesn’t mean you have to be doing all the work.” ~ Matt Wilson, Under30Experiences

12. Say ‘Yes’ More

“Success is rarely, if ever, a straight line. And sometimes, the things that are slightly off track or seem a bit outside the lines are the things that may yield the biggest results. So I recommend you say ‘yes’ to interesting things, people and experiences. Those are usually where the action lies.” ~ Eric Koester, DCI

13. Motivate Employees

“If you own a business, you should realize that your employees are your most valuable asset. The best way to motivate them is to allow them to share in the success of the business. You can call it an incentive for strong productivity and performance, or you can call it profit sharing. When employees have a vested interest in the business, they become self-motivated and work hard to be successful.” ~ Jay Wu, A Forever Recovery

14. Buy a Watch

“My most unorthodox tip for becoming wildly successful in business is buying a watch (any kind!) and actually wearing it (every day!). Being punctual in business is key. No one likes to be held up or waiting on an associate who is running behind. Be early to every meeting, finish meetings on time, and never get caught saying, ‘I’m sorry, I lost track of the time!'” ~ Kim Kaupe, ‘ZinePak

Success Photo via Shutterstock


The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

19 Reactions
  1. Befriending your competitors, or at least having a civil relationship with them, is the key to more business. Once a relationship like that is established you can get more business through referrals.

    • I personally love this one! David from Dayton, Ohio did exactly that for me! WOW! He talked to me about the pros and cons of staging and decorating. He sent me different forms to use, how to price, etc. He is in my corner! Even though he is not exactly in my market area, I believe he would have done the same, if I was direct competition.


    • This true. My best friend and I are actually competitors. We wrote our business plans together and many times place our orders for fabric, batting or other items together to get better shipping, quantity discounts and so on.

      We also went to Quilt Market in Houston together, and many vendors were surprized that we were working together.

  2. I find that #4 is very well practiced in the PPC industry. Even though we are “competitors” we can still share good ideas and have a great time at conferences and networking events.

  3. Every tip is on point. I guess most businesses are too focused on making money that they tend to forget that they are supposed to sell happiness. It works in the same way with employees. As long as you do your business right, even with smaller revenue, it will still be on its way to success and expansion will be at hand.

  4. These are very motivational phrases, and many businesses should really consider “investing” in happiness. It pays off in the end. My personal unorthodox tip is don’t take things too seriously—have fun with what you’re doing and soon enough you will start to redefine what “work” is! 🙂

  5. Great tips! Some of them definitely not what you would expect.

  6. There are quite a few of the tips I like, but my favourites are 1, 3 and 12. Selling joy and delivering happiness is infectious and has a domino effect. Saying ‘yes’ to things that pique one’s interest can sometimes lead to quite a journey.

  7. These are all excellent tips! Marathon? I should think about that. Would be a great way to get my mind elsewhere. I love #1 — sell joy. Great tip there!

  8. I agree that business is always personal. It seldom gets removed from the equation. That’s what is human about us and why certain business’ favor more than others. This is all done out of emotion. These are some really great points. And I also agree that overworking can sometimes be the recipe that bakes failures too. The human body and mind must find time for rest. Excellent.

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