How to REALLY be Successful in Business

I was perusing Facebook recently when I saw an influx of successful business owners posting about what it really takes to be successful. This post from my friend Kathleen Gage is right on: the bottom line is success takes work. [STOP READING here if that turns you off.] It also takes a personal investment of time, energy, resources, money, and sometimes the sheer determination to keep your butt in your office chair until a project or task is finished.

I think it’s funny (in a sad sort of way) how people come to me and think I’ve become an “overnight success.” Newsflash! When you hear of someone “new” accomplishing something great, it doesn’t mean success just “found” them at random. Usually there are years of frustration, dedication and hard work to back up their recent accomplishment.

My business is ten years old. I’ve been working at it full-time for almost six of those years. My husband and I have lived frugally off his income while building our business. For over five years, I literally invested almost every penny the business made into more growth through training programs, conferences, advertising, developing and launching new programs, and most recently into my own health so I can continue helping entrepreneurs publish high quality books. In the past three years I’ve invested roughly $20,000 each year in my own education alone and yes, I continue to live frugally.

Here are things I immediately invested in and recommend you do the same:

  • Online training courses—Stick to courses teaching something you need to learn. Stay away from hyped-up, get rich quick “make $100,000 a year with only an hour’s work each day” info products. No one makes that kind of money with only a four-hour work week unless they’ve spent years building and developing multiple streams of residual income. If you think you can accomplish the same in your first year of business, be prepared for disappointment
  • Live workshops and conferences—At first I attended these only locally since travel funds were limited. But as my business grew, one of the first things I invested in was traveling to conferences outside my local area. The first multi-day conference I attended away from home was the MEGA Book conference with Mark Victor Hansen in Orlando, FL in 2009.
  • Coaching—Every coach needs a coach. Every business needs a coach. Find someone doing what you want to do, doing it well, and sign up for coaching. It will cost you, they will push you, and you’ll be more successful much faster than trying to do it alone.
  • A Team—Once you start making a little money, set some of it aside to invest in team members. My team currently includes: High quality VAs (virtual assistants), graphic designers, editors, computer programmers, eBook programmers, Web designers, even housekeepers. If you want to grow, you have to be willing to outsource the tasks you’re not good at. It’s a risk that will always pay off.

The fact is you get what you pay for and you earn what you work for. If you have a low work ethic, you have no business being in business. Go get a J.O.B. (“just over broke”) and quit complaining about your life. When you’re ready to do what it takes and invest those days and your earnings into yourself and your business, then you’ll be a success. For the first few years I was full-time, I worked seven days a week, sometimes up to 18 hours each day. I spent time writing, marketing, researching conferences to attend, courting new clients, writing contracts, researching legalities…

You name it, I did it. I answered email on the weekends and I was glued to my email. I made sure everything we did was done in a timely manner with the highest level of quality we could produce, and one of the first things I invested in was a business coach who helped me see my limits so I could outsource those tasks I wasn’t suited for. Yes, at first you’ll wear all the hats in your business. But if you’re not willing to let go a few things and invest in a team as soon as your business starts to grow, you’ll never get past the point of just making ends meet.

How my latest investment and applying what I learned in my business helped me drop 8 dress sizes!


My latest investment has been my health. Because as Count Rugen in The Princess Bride told Prince Humperdinck, “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” I found that out the hard way when I fought major depression in 2011 and my health greatly suffered because of it. My diet largely became full of peanut M&Ms, and I needed an intervention to change my ways. By Fall of 2012, I’d gained over 25 lbs in less than six months and started weighing myself. I noticed as my diet got worse (chocolate chip cookies and large bowls of popcorn were my daily mainstays), I began gaining about two pounds each week. Some of you have followed my journey back to health. You can read over those details here.

What I haven’t told many people is why I got such drastic results so fast. Yes, I started drinking green smoothies for breakfast every day. Considering I got zero raw fruits and veggies in my diet, this was a huge improvement to my body. However, I also heavily invested my time and money to learn how to be healthy:

  • Reading—I still read almost everything I can get my hands on about this new way of eating. Right now I’m reading The Juice Lady’s Living Foods Revolution and The Coconut Diet. I also invested in several raw food cookbooks and other books about natural nutrition. I’ve spent well over $250 on reading materials alone.
  • Appliances—I did a lot of research on this one. I’m not known for playing in the kitchen. In fact, I never played in the kitchen. I didn’t know what I would need or why. I started by investing in a Vitamix for $450. My digestive system was so messed up with Celiac disease, I could hardly digest my food. My research showed this blender to be the best way for me to get the nutrients I need. Since then I’ve purchased a few smaller kitchen gadgets, and right now I’m saving for a good quality food processor… since my mom gave me her old one with a cracked bowl as a test to see if I’d actually use it… and I’ve worn it out already. 😉 Total spent on appliances so far is about $600
  • Coaching—I invested in a coach right away. Having had many years of business coaches, I already saw the value of someone to teach me what I don’t know. Thankfully my coach and I were able to work a deal since she wanted book coaching, too. We swapped coaching services and while I didn’t invest anything out of pocket for this other than my own services in return, I did invest a lot of my time. Click here to learn more about her.
  • Food—At first buying good, healthy, organic food was costly. There were a lot of ingredients like coconut oil and super powders that I wanted to invest in, and that frankly my body desperately needed to heal. I had to ask myself if it was worth it… especially when our grocery bill for December was over $750. Total I spent about $550 on super powders alone to get stocked up and started. I have spent more on food since then, but I can tell you we’re now saving money as I’m eating less and less to feel satisfied.

As a direct result of my investment of time and money (well over $2,000 at first and much since then), I lost over 40 pounds in five months. I went from a size 16 to a size 8. And I’m still losing weight in all the “right” places, and balancing out my body with a healthy look. Never having been healthy in my life—EVER—I was at the point I was willing to pay any price to be a success. And it was totally, 100% worth it. If I had to spend twice as much to feel as great as I do now and be a success at this getting healthy thing, I would.

What are you willing to pay to be successful?

If you’re not willing, you won’t be a success. Invest in yourself; invest in your business. You won’t be disappointed.

Photo courtesy Shutterstock, Fotovika

Leave a Comment

  • Elizabeth Armstrong, Ph.D.
    October 10, 2014


    You are so right on track with all of your suggested strategies. I have taken notes and will prioritize the business investments based on income flow. Working full time on the business is necessary. The secret is to develop the work around what brings you joy then the work is like play. The environment is my joy and I am blessed to spend endless hours researching sharing my joy. The work is spiced with required social activities. Socializing is important for well-being.

    Keep up your great work being in service to others and I really enjoy your energy. Great job on taking control of your physical health.


  • Susie Miller
    October 10, 2014

    Congratulations Kristen!! on the weigh loss, but even more so on the choice to take care of yourself and get healthy!! I loved reading your story and applaud your diligence , commitment and willing to invest time and money in yourself and your health!! As someone who has struggled with debilitating illness on and off for 15 years, I agree that having our health is of utmost importance! Thanks for sharing your journey – you are inspiring!!

  • Virginia
    October 9, 2014

    Congratulations on the weight loss and health improvement. I too lost 40 pounds two years ago after not feeling well for 10 years. I was lucky, it came off on it’s own when I got on thyroid medication and my metabolism worked correctly. It is hard to justify spending money on ourselves even when we know “it’s for our own good”. Obviously, worthwhile. You are an inspiration in many ways. Thanks for all you offer.