How To Be A Successful Entrepreneur by Reverse Engineering Success

Written By Dave Lavinsky
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When starting a business, most entrepreneurs dream about the finish line; specifically how their lives will be radically better once their business becomes a huge success.

But, soon after they start their businesses, entrepreneurs/business owners become trapped in the day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month goals of generating more sales and profits, improving employee performance, and trying to reduce their hours and stress.

At some point, the vast majority of entrepreneurs become 100% focused on these short-term goals and lose sight of their long-term visions. As a result, they begin to wander, and never achieve the vision they initially hoped to achieve.

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The solution is rather simple: you need to stop what you’re doing and dream again about the finish line. Specifically, you need to reassess what it is that you’re trying to accomplish with your business.

In many cases, this long-term vision will be the same as the long-term vision you had when you started your business. In other cases, your long-term vision might have changed.

But in EVERY case, you must reassess what your long-term vision is, or you’ll have virtually no chance of achieving it.

And importantly, once you identify this vision, you need to reverse engineer it.

That’s right, you need to fully imagine how your business will look once you have achieved your long-term vision, and then create the action plan for achieving it. For example, if your dream includes a company with 300 employees, you need to create the plan now for hiring and training these employees.

To help you achieve this, follow my step by step plan below for identifying your long-term vision and reverse engineering it.

1: Identify your long-term vision

  • Write down what your ultimate goal is for your business.

For example, do you want to sell it to another company? Sell/give it to your employees or children? Take it public? Continue to run it forever and reap ongoing profits?

2: Identify your key end-game metrics

  • By what date would you like your vision to be achieved?
  • What will your company’s annual revenues be at this date?
  • How many customers will you have at this date?
  • How many employees will you have at this date?
  • On this date, what will your day to day responsibilities be?
  • On this date, what will be your top selling products and/or services?

3: Reverse Engineer Success within the Key Functional Areas

Answer the following questions as if today was the future date in which you achieved your long-term vision and you were looking backwards.


  • What marketing channels allowed you to attract/gain the most customers?
  • What have you done to fully satisfy your customers?
  • What business partnerships (if any) have you forged that have resulted in significant numbers of new clients?


  • What have you done to develop your top selling products and/or services?

Human Resources:

  • Who are your key managers that motivate and manage your other employees? When did you find these key managers? Where did you find them? How did you develop them?
  • When did you start ramping up your hiring process?



4: Create Your Action Plans

Create action plans from your answers above.

For example, if you answered “direct mail” as your top marketing channel, document your direct mail strategy. For example, document who you will mail to, what your message will be, what your direct mail timeline will be, etc.

The exercise above is critical in ensuring your success.

The key is to not only dream about what your business looks like when it has achieved success, but to reverse engineer that dream. You need to think through how your business got to its successful state. And then work backwards in creating action plans that will get you there. And once you create these action plans, be sure that you and your team stay focused on executing them.


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