Breaking Out on Your Own

By Dr. Bryan Hawley

There are many common traits that successful entrepreneurs all share.

I’m in the middle of writing a book, and I just have to share some of these things that I’m discovering. I’ve been interviewing high-level-success entrepreneurs. These are people who broke out of the so-called rat race and decided to do something, take the leap of faith and pursue their dreams and passions.

The people I’ve been interviewing really are just common folks like you and me. They started with a paper route, a nine-to-five job, or working at a convenience store, and then decided to break out and go on their own. They are not megamillionaires or billionaires, like in some of the books you may have read; these are average people who have discovered a way to make ends meet and even make profit while doing what they love.

As I’m conducting these interviews and gathering stories, I discovered there are a lot of common traits that these entrepreneurs all have, and I want to share some of them with you.

One of the main things these individuals have been telling me is that they were fearful initially—afraid to take that leap of faith to start something on their own without a safety net. This goes for the ones that are making $80,000 to $200,000 a year all the way up to making $5 to $10 million a year in their businesses. So if you’re at the edge of a precipice and want to do something on your own but have that fear lingering in the background, that’s OK. It is perfectly normal based on all of my research.

It was at this deciding moment that they had the internal conflict of which voice were they were going to listen to. Were they going to follow their heart and their passion? Or were they going listen to the scared voice saying, “No, you can’t do this; it’s not safe, and you’re going to fail.”

Unfortunately, many people in this world listen to that scared voice, and they never pursue their dreams or take that leap. Fortunately, all the ones I’ve interviewed have taken that leap and are living life with no regrets. Sure, they have their ups and downs—everyone does—but they would never change the decision that they made.

Everyone I interviewed has had their fair share of knocks and struggles. Just when things started going great, swoosh, life pulled the carpet out from under their feet. A few lost everything and had to rebuild. A couple of them even went back to the nine-to-five job because they thought they couldn’t make it as an entrepreneur, but the bug kept calling them back, and they ended up starting up another business. For some it took three attempts to finally succeed.

The thing that they all said: The bigger the obstacle that they overcome, the bigger the reward has been in their personal lives and in their business. The seasoned ones who have been out in business for five years or more said they actually look forward to obstacles because they know that once they overcome a challenge they’re going to reap the rewards, and it’s going to propel them that much closer to their ultimate dreams and goals.

The other common thread that I noticed was that most of these people had built up what I call the grit muscle. This is something that a lot of people lack in the beginning, and it hinders them. Grit is doing something monotonous over and over without seeing an immediate result, but having faith enough to know if you keep pushing it will be there in the end—and you will finally reach your goal.

Many of these innovators had what’s called the dark night of the soul. That when things were not moving forward or things were getting tough, and they were facing obstacle after obstacle, experiencing many sleepless nights and contemplating quitting many times over. But there was something deep inside of them, that grit, that just kept them pushing forward knowing that it was going to be all right and knowing that this is what they were destined to do. There was an inner pull combined with faith that drove them onward.

One surprising thing that I discovered with all the people on my interview list is that they were more than willing to sit down for 30 minutes on a Zoom call to share their experience—not for publicity or monetary gain—but to give back and to let their message be heard so they can inspire and let other entrepreneurs out there know that they are not alone, that they are not on an isolated island. No matter how busy these people are, they all found time to give back and share.

When asked what they would have done differently or changed if they could go back in time, most said they would have tried to find more life balance. When they first started on their journey, they were so obsessed with breaking out of the mold, paving their own way, and reaching their goals that they neglected other areas in their life.

I remember watching a documentary on a real estate mogul worth $250 million who was so out of shape he could not climb stairs. He had to have an elevator installed in his home to reach the second floor! A couple of the entrepreneurs I interviewed said they went full steam ahead with their dreams but neglected their family or spouse. They ended up divorced two or three times, missed life events with their kids, or neglected themselves physically and/or spiritually. Over-all, they wish that they had balanced the other areas of their life better while still pursuing their dreams.

The bottom line: These entrepreneurs are happy! They are all still driven and want to give back to help others. I can’t wait to interview another dozen or so people, as this has been one of the most fascinating projects I’ve done in my career.

My goal is to help those of you out there who want to break out of the nine-to-five routine and follow your passion. To find inspiration in the short stories of entrepreneurs who have paved the way for others on their journeys to achieve their dreams and goals. If you want to branch out on your own and follow your passion, you have to decide which voice you’re going listen to and take that leap. You also need understand that it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take time and patience. It’s going to have its ups and downs. Remember, the bigger the obstacle you have to overcome, the bigger the reward is going to be at the end.

Faith combined with grit and determination has been the backbone behind most successful entrepreneurs. That being said, I wish you luck and welcome you to join the entrepreneur journey with me.

Dr. Bryan is a published author, national speaker, and personal growth consultant. He also owns an online digital marketing agency and has created a simple online course on digital marketing to help other coaches, and authors break out into the world and reach audiences. You can find out more on his website or email directly at

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