10 Skills Entrepreneurs Need to Succeed (Part 1)

This is part one of “10 Skills Entrepreneurs Need to Succeed” by Joel Appel.

It’s no secret that most entrepreneurs are innovators, but it takes more than a cool idea to have your company make it big. Just ask Joel Appel, co-founder of Orange Glo International, CEO of Launch Pad, and Jake Jabs Center advisory council member and instructor. With more than 25 years of entrepreneurial experience under his belt, you could say Joel has developed a unique set of skills that have served him well throughout his career. Here he shares his top 10 skills entrepreneurs need to succeed:

1. Grit. This skill gets an awful lot of airtime, deservedly so. But read elsewhere for more information, if you need it.

2. Curiosity, about everything. Think of the “Renaissance Man.” Pay attention to how people dress, how they shop, what books they read, the sports they following, and the words they use. All of these things will help you read markets, connect with people, and generally improve your chances of launching a successful business – which is hard – and requires a full 360 approach to be successful.

3. Commitment to discovering the best solution, not your favorite solution.  Being an entrepreneur can be like wading through a crowd of people in a department store.  There are people everywhere who will ’nudge’ you in one direction or the other. These opinions from friends, consultants, and industry experts can be very helpful as you try to discover the secrets to making your business successful. They can also send you in the wrong direction which clouds your mission and no longer makes any sense to the marketplace. Learn how to receive and incorporate helpful suggestions without losing your way and diluting your business proposition.

4. Develop your gut. Successful entrepreneurs follow their gut far more than managers of established companies. This is both a survival skill and a means for achieving something awesome. It is a survival skill in that the entrepreneur needs to find new and creative ways to do things in order to move fast, save costs, and chose the people they want to work with. It is a means to achieving something awesome because when we incorporate our gut instincts, we have the opportunity to break free of analysis and interpretations that rely on the same data and information that everyone else is using.

5. You are a marketer and salesperson before all else. This is because you need to continuously think about how people will use and love your company’s products or services. I regularly meet entrepreneurs who tell me everything that they have done to make their companies great, including careful descriptions of their technology, color choices, supply and manufacturing agreements, etc. But when I ask the question, ‘who has tried this, and what do they think?  What did they say about it?’ I often get blank stares. I don’t need you to tell me how good your products are, or how good your designers and programmers are. I need you to tell and show me how much customers love what you are doing. It is (almost) always possible to improve your product. It is not always possible to find a market for your product.

Check out Part 2 (skills #6-10) here.


Joel has been an entrepreneur and business manager most of his life. After attending Claremont McKenna College and Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Joel worked at the Quaker Oats Company for 8 years. He then founded Orange Glo International, marketers of Orange Glo, OxiClean, and Kaboom, with his parents. Joel created the famous television ads featuring the late Billy Mays. In 2006 Joel and his family sold Orange Glo to Church & Dwight/Arm & Hammer.

A year later Joel co-founded Launch Pad LLC, a marketing company that backs and runs several consumer product companies such as FullBar, Brainetics, Tortle, 2 Red Hens, and Gallo en Fuego. Joel also owns the Moda Man store on Larimer Square in Denver. Joel sits on the boards of two non-profits, First Descents and the Hoffman Institute. Joel has two high-school aged kids, loves the outdoors, and has tremendous passion for personal and spiritual growth.

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