Formula of Success

Success = 2 Parts Quantitative Plus 2 Parts Qualitative

Fall is the time of year for class reunions; an opportunity to catch up with people you might not have seen for 5 or more years. I went to my wife’s reunion last weekend and had a great time catching up with people. Of course a common question that comes up is “So, what do you do?” or “What have you been up to?”. After describing my various entrepreneurial quests, some will tell me that they would love to start a company and ask me for some pointers. I wanted to provide them with something that was not only relatively simple to remember but also covered a broad range of entrepreneurial “life”. Since starting a company has a lot of moving parts, I ended up creating a entrepreneurial “success” formula to help others understand the diversity of inputs or activities needed. Here it is for you.

Success = Quantitative + Qualitative Activities

Or put another way, you need “hard” skills and “soft” skills to help you be successful. Note “successful” is uniquely defined based on your goals and ambitions. And it will also change over time. For instance, success to you may be making an extra $1000/month initially. But over time, you may redefine success to be $5000/month.

Let’s break down this equation in more detail.

Quantitative Activities or Hard Skills

At a high-level, there are two components associated with Quantitative Activities; the product or service and sales. I consider both of these Quantitative Activities or Hard Skills because they have “tangible” outputs. You need to have skills to create something, ie create a product or service. You also need to have skills to sell something, ie increase revenue. You need both the ability to sell and ability to create something to actually sell to be successful from a Quantitative Activities or Hard Skills perspective. If you can sell but don’t have something to sell, it’ll be hard for you to make money. Likewise, if you can create something but aren’t able to sell it, you’re revenue numbers won’t be great.

Qualitative Activities or Soft Skills

Similar to Quantitative Activities, Qualitative Activities also includes two components; grit or determination and your well-being. I consider both of these Qualitative Activities or Soft Skills because they are “intangible” outputs and unique to your character. They can’t really be measured either per se. Going on an entrepreneurial quest is a long journey where lots of tough decisions, hurdles, setbacks will occur. So you need to be determined to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to achieve your goals and success. But since the trek is long, you also need to make sure you take care of your health and spirit. You may have a product and the ability to sell it thru strong-willed determination but if your body isn’t taken care of, you may not make it to the “finish line”. This is analogous to “hitting the wall” in marathons.


When I started describing “entrepreneurial success” using this formula, it seemed to resonate with people. Generally they all understood what Products/Services, Sales, Grit and Well-being are individually but by combining them in a formula for success, it seemed to “click” with them. A few of them thought entrepreneurial success was dependent on the product only (overnight success of “build it and they will come”). Now they conceptually understand it’s much more. By simplifying a complex endeavor in a high level formula with simple terms, I was happy to see so many heads nodding in understanding. Hopefully this helps you too.

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