After more than 30 years as an entrepreneur, I have had the opportunity to watch the careers of many other entrepreneurs come and go. It’s not an easy feat; there have been several time in my career when mine nearly died -- or killed me! Today, I’m happier personally and professionally than I’ve ever been, so I’ve been thinking about what it is that separates those that are successful over the long term from those that are not.

I’ve concluded that long-term entrepreneurial success requires being able to answer “Yes” to three key questions:

1) Are you passionate about your target market?

Identifying a target market with whom you LOVE to spend your time is critical. For me, at this point in time, it is individuals and organizations that want to create a “productive environment”™ so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives.

I’m particularly interested in those who want to move toward Almost Paperless™ -- ESPECIALLY those that are physically moving and can save thousands of dollars by getting rid of clutter rather than moving it! I’ve always had a passion for helping people be more productive and get rid of clutter. I simply can’t help it, so whether I’m in a social setting or a business setting, I’m having fun and finding clients. It doesn’t get any better!

2) Are you willing to be in the business of “marketing?”

Regardless of the products and/or services your business offers, you must accept that you are in the business of marketing FIRST and then in your respective business. No matter how good your product or service is, if people don’t know about it, you can’t be a successful business. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on marketing experts in the past, but it wasn’t until I owned the marketing that I was successful. That doesn’t mean you have to do it physically -- you just have to own the message and the process.

3) Do you totally believe in yourself and the value of the services you offer?

If you don’t, how can you expect anyone else to? Often I’ve heard entrepreneurs talk about a prospect who “can’t afford what I have to offer.” The reality is that people buy what they believe has value to them. Just look at the satellite dishes in the slums. There were times in my career I went without buying food and clothes I normally would purchase because I preferred to invest in my business.

Through the years I have known people who were in a business simply to make money -- and they were highly successful from a financial standpoint, but there’s far more to life than money, as anyone who has made money but lost their family can tell you.

Author's Bio: 

Barbara Hemphill is a celebrated international speaker, a pioneer in the field of professional organizing and a consultant to major corporations worldwide.
Nicknamed “The Paper Tiger Lady,” Barbara is the author of several books, including Kiplinger’s bestselling “Taming the Paper Tiger,” book series. In 1997, she helped launch Taming the Paper Tiger software, the first computer file search solution.

She recently launched iPEP (interactive Productive Environment Platform), software that allows users to find physical information, electronic information, and ideas with a keyword search.

She has an international team of Certified Productive Environment Specialists™ who help individuals and organizations create and sustain a productive environment™.
Also called “America’s Favorite Organizer,” Barbara is the mastermind behind The Productive Environment Day™ and Almost Paperless™, as well as The 8-Hour Miracle™.

She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband. She has five children and four grandchildren.