10 Skills Entrepreneurs Need to Succeed (Part 2)

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

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 (check out part one for #1-5):

6. Be careful and clear with your words and their meanings, especially concerning all things having to do with the magic word ‘sale.’  Too often entrepreneurs say things like ‘I got the business,’ or ‘she is going with us,’ or ‘they are in.’  Such loose verbiage makes me crazy. What did they buy? When? At what price? Try to be clear, and give as much information, and learn to say things like ‘they loved the presentation, and they will place a test order for 500 units in 2 weeks!’ Doesn’t that feel better?

7. Stick with your business, with what you’re great at (provided you’ve figured that out), and don’t get sucked into opportunities that don’t serve your company’s goals. For example, one of my companies makes baby products for hospitals, and a larger marketing partner asked us to take over manufacturing for some of the things that they make in their factory and don’t like making. In this case my answer was ‘no thank you!’ I don’t want to spend my team’s precious time and energy making low margin products for somebody else, managing factories, and holding inventory when we are struggling to keep up with opportunities on our main line of products. We could hire someone and do it, but it would dilute our efforts and focus.

8. Ask for help from people who can really help. Sometimes we think it would be a burden to call someone out of the blue and ask for a hand. I do it all the time, and it has made all the difference in the world. I am not afraid to place a call or lob an email to someone I haven’t spoke with in years, or perhaps ever. When you sincerely and humbly ask for help, it can be irresistible. But you need to remember, people are busy, so you may need to be persistent and clever about how you ask them.

9. Be enthused about what you are doing and LET THE WORLD KNOW that you love your business.  If you are excited about what you are doing, let people know.  You will find that people will line up to help you, introduce you to others, and offer suggestions. This is especially true when meeting customers and potential investors. Tell them you are excited and why. We are all drawn to creative energy, so spread that around!

10. Get sleep and take care of yourself. As entrepreneurs, we love to create and obsess about what we are doing, and that is part of the success mix. But it has a downside. I have run myself ragged, missed nights of sleep, and paid the price in the form of colds and chest coughs far too many times. I have finally learned to check out when I am ready to go to sleep or hang out with family and friends, and I unplug completely on vacations or weekends away. (OK, well, I might be stretching the truth on this last one, but the point is the same.) Stay healthy, keep your body fit, and you will have one more valuable weapon on your entrepreneurial journey!


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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