Not everyone knows this, but my first business failed miserably. Though it was more than 10 years ago, the lessons I learned have stayed with me. For someone who was used to succeeding at almost everything, it stung quite a bit…when I finally admitted failure, that is.

Seriously, it sucked.

I still remember the overwhelming feelings of uncertainty and insecurity. I was crushed, and I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get back up and try it again.

But sure enough, an entrepreneur’s blood is resilient. I came back to business ownership a short time later, armed with the lessons I learned the first time around (they were plentiful — I did just about everything WRONG!), and was ready take the small business world by storm. I’m still storming, eight years later, and it’s been quite a ride.

Through my life as an entrepreneur, I have discovered that almost every venture that I’ve had my hands on that could be considered a success had at least three things in common.

From my experiences with failure, here are three ways I’ve learned to increase my chances of success when I’m striving for a big goal.

Be Prepared

For some, being prepared means writing a business plan; for others, it means creating a solid Plan B. For all, preparation involves some level of planning. Think about everything significant you’ve done in your life. I bet you had some plan on how you were going to get from point A to point B.

Planning and preparation are such important parts of every goal; without them, you will likely end up floundering around, not sure what to do next. Part of successful preparation is doing everything you can to get ready, but then understanding that things won’t always work out as you hope.

This brings me to my next point — flexibility.

Be Flexible

I have never met a successful entrepreneur who achieved success exactly as they envisioned it originally. Some might end up close to their big picture goal, but it’s just unlikely that everything you expect and want to happen will happen when and how you expect it to. Life just doesn’t work that way.

An important part of being successful is being able to accept change and use it to make forward progress. Open-mindedness and positive thinking combined with flexibility are invaluable when you’re attacking a big goal.

Being prepared and flexible are crucial to success, but without my next must-have — tenacity — your likelihood for success may take a hit.

Be Tenacious

As most entrepreneurs know, the business ownership ride is a bumpy one. Even if you have the magic touch and are successful right out of the gate, you are still likely to hit a pothole or two during the course of your journey.

Some potholes may set you back, or have you questioning what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. But this is good. A moderate amount of uncertainty can solidify your resolve, get you fired up, and make you even hungrier for success.

Having tenacity and a desire to get the job done, no matter how hard it is, how many setbacks you face, and how often you consider throwing in the towel is often the difference between those who succeed and those who fail.

What would you add to this list of success must-have’s?

Image credit: ladyaustin