Sign Pointing to Success and Failure

While many young entrepreneurs make the mistake of dwelling on past failures, serial entrepreneurs appear almost weightless in their ability to rebound from the past and move forward.

Former Harvard faculty member and business coach, Dr. Steven Berglas, writes about the driven nature of the serial entrepreneur:

“They seem to grow bolder with each venture, be it a great success or fantastic failure. Their egos--those fragile engines of will and desire that propel (and cripple) entrepreneurs and working stiffs alike--appear all but bullet-proof.”

Moving on from failure is just one of the key ingredients to a serial entrepreneur's success. Other habits consistently practiced by serial entrepreneurs include:

1. Working from a Place of Purpose

Successful serial entrepreneurs are motivated by purpose. Provoked by their passion to seemingly improve everything within their sphere of influence, they start companies and build businesses that often revolutionize industries. That passion drove Krishnan Ganesh, CEO and co-founder of TutorVista to jump into his third successful startup. The key, according to Ganesh, is to have a balanced dose of zeal and risk. The entrepreneur should, “have passion for an idea and the stupidity to believe that the idea will work.” The serial entrepreneur has these traits in “stronger doses with an adventurous spirit that keeps exploring new avenues and is never satisfied with the last mountain conquered.”

2. Planning for Results and Evolving the Vision

Superior execution has to meet extraordinary passion to produce a string of successful businesses. Execution is shaped by the past, which sharpens vision for the future. The future of a business may not look like the past, but serial entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes without allowing them to stall growth. They understand they have information, techniques and experiences that can shape the future if they plan for it.

Serial entrepreneur and former blogger, Jay Goltz, says, “The most successful entrepreneurs ask themselves “What am I doing wrong?” and “What can I be doing better?” as a kind of mantra to recognize their flaws and mitigate them.”

3. Making a Habit of Learning

In fact, it seems part of the appeal of entrepreneurship is the constant flow of education gained through experience. Serial entrepreneurs start companies and use the wisdom gleamed from the field of successes and failures as decision-making fuel for the next venture. Serial entrepreneurs are able to learn, adapt, evaluate and transition in a cycle that outpaces most business owners.

4. Leveraging Resources

You cannot be everything to everyone. Every company has the entrepreneur, the visionary for the business and someone who executes the operations of the business. It’s rare for one person to successfully handle all of the leadership roles necessary for business' growth and success. Smart serial entrepreneurs know who they are, what motivates them and where their expertise lie. They also know how to leverage the knowledge, network and capital of others to build without exhaustion.

5. Not Being Afraid to Walk Away

Stuart Skorman founded, later acquired by Hollywood Video for $100 million. He has a litany of successes, and failures, about which he boasts. His secret, according to, is that he recognizes while he devotes himself completely to the business, he is the “creative guy you want to start with, but (I'm) not the management guy you want to run it.'

For the serial entrepreneur, new ventures await; staying too long in one place means missed opportunities.

6. Staying Creative in the Search

National Federation of Independent Business Owners research fellow, William Dennis, refers to serial entrepreneurs as economic artists. He describes the rare ability they have to bring economic resources together using creative partnerships, joint ventures and investor opportunities. This creativity extends to identifying the needs of the consumer and trends in industries that can respond.

7. Growing Thick Skin

There will be successful ventures and epic failures. Serial entrepreneurs have in common their ability to see and reach beyond ideas that don’t work, businesses that never take off and investors that pull out. Other opportunities exist, customers still have needs and consumers are still purchasing. Serial entrepreneurs work with this information in the forefront of their mind. There is always another step. And another after that.

Do you have any habits of successful serial entrepreneurs you think we should add to the list? Tell us below in the comments section!