Three themes award-winning entrepreneurs embrace to achieve success

There is little argument that entrepreneurs are a unique breed in the business world.

They see opportunities where others do not. They take calculated risks that give other business leaders pause. And they refuse to accept failure as an option.

Each year, when Ernst & Young presents its U.S. Entrepreneur Of The Year program across 26 regions nationwide, it searches for the top entrepreneurs who are moving the needle. These are people leading organizations that are scalable, innovative and, in many cases, groundbreaking.

In a study of the 636 companies that were named finalists in the 2012 program, numerous commonalities came to light. The following are three that Ernst & Young identified.


Entrepreneurs embrace innovation.

Innovation comes from trying different things — often accepting failure as just another outcome of embracing change and new ideas. Successful entrepreneurs are agile and know it. They look for ways to attempt new ways of doing old things.

And while 21 percent of last year’s finalists were in the technology sector, that doesn’t mean innovation is the exclusive domain of those firms. In fact, those entrepreneurs who innovate products, services and solutions have been just as successful as technology firms when it comes to innovation and changing the way everyone looks at specific industry sectors.


Entrepreneurs demonstrate
unrelenting resilience.

When you refuse to accept the word “no” as an option, you’re on your way toward achieving successful results. Entrepreneurs understand that setbacks occur as part of the normal process of growth. They are nimble enough to change tactics, rebound quickly in the face of adversity, as well as redefine their strategy if they see it’s not going to work. Most important, entrepreneurs do not focus on the failures. They learn from the mistakes, adapt and then move on to try new things.


Entrepreneurs effectively
communicate vision and instill
passion within their teams.

Ask any entrepreneur where the ultimate key to his or her success lies, and he or she will point to his or her team of managers and employees. The entrepreneurs will further explain that by communicating their vision to this group, they’ve been able to inspire them and instill a sense of passion to achieve success. Savvy entrepreneurs recognize that when you get everyone rowing in the same direction, it’s hard to stop an organization’s progress. l

You can find more commonalities identified by Ernst & Young at Nominations for this year’s program will be accepted through
late March/early April and can be downloaded by visiting


The 636 companies that were finalists of the Ernst & Young U.S. Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Award defied the recession between 2009 and 2011. Here’s how:



  • They employ in excess of 700,000 people.
  • They experienced collective job growth of 30 percent compared with 1 percent in the overall U.S. economy.
  • This translated to 150,000 new jobs during that time period, with the average finalist’s workforce at 1,060 people.


  • Finalists experienced revenue growth of 48 percent compared with 6 percent for the average U.S. company.
  • They generated $165 billion in revenue in 2011, a 26 percent jump from 2010.
  • Median revenue per company  was $44 million in 2011.