15 Entrepreneurs Share Secrets to Success

Here at Zilker Media, we are lucky to have the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most inspiring and innovative business leaders and entrepreneurs. To honor them and in celebration of National Entrepreneur’s Day today, we’ve asked some of our clients and partners to share their secrets to success.

Here are 15 tips from entrepreneurship experts and business leaders for anyone who is looking to kickstart their entrepreneurial journey!


Rusty Shelton

Founder & Chairman of Zilker Media

“The biggest lesson I learned as an entrepreneur connects back to Peter Drucker’s famous quote: “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Every ounce of success I may have had can be tied back to a focus on building a foundation for the business focused on culture. When you focus on that first it gives you the ability to power through just about any challenge that you may face.”


Clint Greenleaf

Entrepreneurial Board of Director, CEO, Content Expert and CPA

“While some can be successful in the short term, I’ve found that real value and wealth come from playing the Long Game.  Taking care of your employees, customers, vendors and investors takes time and investment, but if you do it right, if you do it consistently, and if you do it deliberately, you’ll find greater success.”


Maura Thomas

Founder of Regain Your Time, Author and Speaker

“I think the one thing I’ve learned about entrepreneurship is that it requires faith in yourself, more than anything or anyone else. There is no “guaranteed” paycheck, and the only certainty is the faith in yourself that you can take care of you better than anyone else can. But there is also no such thing as failure. Entrepreneurship may be the most relevant place for the phrase “sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.” Whether it’s trying new business ideas until you find the right one, or ultimately going back to a more traditional job, the lessons from entrepreneurship will make you better wherever you end up.”


Sten Morgan

Founder of Legacy Investment Planning

“If you avoid discomfort, success will avoid you in return. Entrepreneurship is high risk but comes with unlimited upside potential”


Joel Trammell

Founder and CEO of Khorus Software

“The only way to consistently grow an organization is to master the ability to attract and make productive talented people. Business is about people more than things.”


Carey Lohrenz

Bestselling Author, Leadership Speaker and Business Consultant

“There can be no great accomplishment without risk. But without the willingness to keep at it, success in any way, shape, or form will not be possible.”


Evan Erdberg

CEO of Proximity Learning, Inc.

“Starting a company is like having children, it takes your time, dedication, it’s an emotional rollercoaster, has its ups and downs, you get to see it grow up, there are times you believe you have no idea what you are doing and should never have taken that path but in the end it is worth it.” 


Nicholas Alter

CEO of Alter Endeavors and Founder of Catch Engine

“If I have to choose only one piece of advice today, then it’s this – build community. The difference between being self-employed and building a lasting, sustainable business begins and ends with the people around you. Every success story I have either helped build or witnessed from the sidelines has started with a great team of folks who are good at building an even bigger team of great folks who then serve and cherish an audience who then feel valued and want to celebrate the brand that made them feel special. But community is also about support. I would not be where I am today without incredible mentors, partners, and resources. It takes a lot of work and vulnerability to build that community, especially those deep, meaningful relationships where great ideas can turn into massive success, but carve out that time to really get to know the right people to help you grow and visa versa.”


Michael A. Fried

President of both Aftermath Consulting Group & All American Public Adjusters, LLC

“Answer your phone and keep your word. Success will come naturally thereafter.”


Ilana Zivkovich

Founder & CEO of Werq

“My advice for all entrepreneurs – whether you’re on your first business idea or your 100th – is to embrace both the wins and the losses along the way. WHEN we fail, we get uncomfortable,  When we’re uncomfortable, we’re much more likely to grow.  So embrace it all!  Welcome the mistakes along the way as invaluable teachers.  Surround yourself with people who will challenge you to never shy away from the discomfort, but to take it as fuel for your next lesson, your next success.  Enjoy the journey and continue growing!”


Brian Maxwell 

CEO of Go Local

“Entrepreneurship is exciting, hard work, fun, challenging, and extremely rewarding. The work of the entrepreneur improves our communities and our world. I respect anyone who is giving it a shot.

My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to try and keep a good balance between persistence and flexibility. Ideas evolve and the best companies come from trial and error and constant improvement. But there are also times to buckle down and just keep going.”


Krister Ungerböck

Bestselling Author, Global Tech CEO

“They say ‘You’ve got to spend money to make money’… what I learned while creating a new B2C brand is that “You’ve got to spend a LOT of money to make a LITTLE money 

It’s a game of inches. The 80/20 rule doesn’t apply like it does in B2B. It takes getting 50 things right. It takes surrounding yourself with a diverse group of amazing marketing experts who know what they are doing to make it happen. The experts who are Top 1% of their game often provide 10 times the value of the people who are in the Top 20%.

Here’s another tip:

As an unknown author without a platform, there is only one path to creating a bestselling book.

Write a bestseller.

Focus on the quality of the product. If 10% of people won’t refer your book to others, then great marketing can’t save an average product.  Great marketing is only a force multiplier when the product is great too!”


Karen R. Jenkins

President & CEO of KRJ Consulting, LLC

“Your mindset is key to your success. Surround yourself with like-minded people with an entrepreneurial mindset that can challenge and support you.”


Mike Smerklo

Founder of Next Coast Ventures

“Know that entrepreneurship is hard. It is not supposed to be easy to change the world.  But taking the first step is the hardest and most important. It brings along something called momentum and that can make all the difference in your journey. Get after it – the world needs entrepreneurs now more than ever!!”


Larkin Tackett

CEO at MAYA Consulting

“I recently came across a quote from a leader much wiser than me, and I wish I’d had it front of mind when I began my entrepreneurial journey. She said, “take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.”


Charlene Wheeless

CEO of Charlene Wheeless LLC

“I can’t think of a better investment than investing in yourself. Yes, it can be scary, but take a deep breath and jump. The only risks I’ve ever regretted are the ones I didn’t take. Your time on this earth is finite. Make it count.

And, if you fail, you’re just right back where you started. No worse, but smarter. As Nike says, “Just do it.”



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