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Entrepreneurs reveal what they believe are the secrets to success

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Successful diverse young business team giving a victorious thumbs up to show their success and motivation, close up view of their raised hands
(Photo by ESB Professional via Shutterstock)

If you’re looking to be successful, it turns out being resilient is a key factor.

That’s one of the takeaways from a new global survey, which revealed 88% of respondents shared that sentiment — saying that to be successful, people can’t be afraid to make mistakes.

And 85% don’t believe they’d be where they are today if they stopped trying after making one mistake at work.

The global survey of 8,000 small business owners and employees across 15 countries included data from 2,000 Americans — 1,000 small business owners and 1,000 employees with 10+ years of experience in their fields.

Results found that 84% of small business owners and employees globally see making mistakes as an opportunity for growth.

The small business owners surveyed reported experiencing an average of two unsuccessful ideas before finding one that worked — but these ideas created learning opportunities and were therefore still important in their growth.

Of those who’ve had previous unsuccessful ideas, 89% learned lessons from each one — showing that, for most respondents, missteps are actually part of their success.

Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Herbalife Nutrition for National Small Business Week in May, the survey asked respondents about the specific lessons they’ve learned through their workplace mishaps.

Topping the list of lessons was learning how to be more productive (41%) and gaining a better understanding of their tasks (34%).

Respondents also said they’ve learned how to prioritize (32%), picked up a better understanding of the big picture (30%) and a willingness to learn best practices and innovate with continued education (27%) — rounding out the top five lessons learned.

“Good business fundamentals and hard work, when combined with planning, organization and surrounding yourself with supportive people who can offer an honest opinion, can be the essential drivers to success,” said John DeSimone, president of Herbalife Nutrition.  

The survey also asked small business owners what they’d say to someone starting a business, and the top piece of advice was to make a business plan (41%).

In addition to that, the small business owners surveyed said it was important to get organized (39%) and not to be afraid to make mistakes (38%).

Other respondents said, “know your own strengths and play to them,” “get out there and have fun” and “never give up.”

“In business, just like in life, what matters most is seizing the opportunity to learn and improve,” said DeSimone. “Entrepreneurs are constantly learning and growing and ultimately making their businesses stronger in the process.”

WHAT LESSONS HAVE RESPONDENTS LEARNED FROM THEIR MISTAKES?

  • How to be more productive — 34%
  • Better understanding of tasks — 34%
  • How to prioritize — 32%
  • Better understanding of the big picture — 30%
  • Willingness to learn best practices and innovate with continued education — 29%
  • How to be a better team player — 28%
  • How to build trust and be authentic — 28%
  • How to better deal with customers — 28%
  • How to strike a balance between trusting my instinct and analyzing data — 26%
  • How to give and receive feedback from my colleague — 26%
  • Surrounding myself with people stronger than me in other areas of my business — 24% (tied)
  • The importance of mentorship (giving or receiving) — 24% (tied)
  • How to rely on and trust my employees — 22%
  • How to be a better financial steward — 21%

WHAT ADVICE WOULD SBO RESPONDENTS GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING A BUSINESS?

  • Make a business plan — 41%
  • Get organized — 39%
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or fail — 38%
  • Ask for help when needed — 36%
  • Understand the market and your audience — 36%
  • Be careful not to waste money — 35%
  • Create a marketing plan — 34%
  • Be careful who you partner and invest with — 31%
  • Be realistic about how much capital you need — 30%
  • Don’t underestimate the work it’ll take to have a successful business — 29%
  • Make sure to set the right price for your product and/or service — 29%
  • Surround yourself with people who have stronger skill sets in different areas than you — 26%
  • Don’t overpromise or underdeliver — 26%
  • Don’t launch before you’re ready — 25%
  • Find a mentor to help guide you — 25%


This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans (1,000 SBOs and 1,000 employees with 10+ years experience in their field) was commissioned by Herbalife Nutrition between Feb. 15 and March 8, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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