Can entrepreneurs only control 10% of success factors?

Last year I watched Oprah interview Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, about her new book, Thrive. At the end of the interview, Arianna said something that resonated with me; she talked about our ability to control the outcome of things.

Really, it was her comments about our inability to control things that were most profound.

I’m a type-A personality and a hard-driver towards “success.” But so often, driving hard is not enough to bring about the results we want, in the time-frame we want.

So, what does Arianna, a super-successful, type-A personality recommend?

Do your part to the best of your ability

What Arianna said hit me right between the eyes.

I don’t make everything happen. It’s hard for a type-A personality to remember that…I do my 10%, 100%. And the rest I leave to God and I go free.


Watch what else Arianna said when Oprah asked her what’s the lesson that’s taken her longest to learn.

You can watch the full interview here –>

Doing my 10%, 100%

Thinking of things this way helps me keep perspective.

If you recall my article in February, I laid out my 2015 plans for my biz and determined I would accomplish a few key things:

  1. Double website traffic to 120,000 visitors.
  2. Nearly double the e-commerce conversion rate to 2%.
  3. And grow revenue to $500,000.
  4. Most importantly use a strategic planning process like Hoshin Kanri (perhaps create a Hoshin Kanri template) to communicate and translate strategic goals with the staff.

Here’s a quick look at how all that is going:

  • After evaluating data I decided to make our montage editor work on mobile devices in the browser (no app downloading needed). The project is done and works really well. I can use app load-testing software with companies like to help make sure that everything is working smoothly. Results: barely any sales from mobile devices in the month since the project was completed.
  • I recognized the need to drive traffic to the site organically and rely less on PR, and I successfully built a Facebook referral tool that, while it has workflow issues since I changed a few things around, has not delivered on driving traffic to the website. I’m currently weighing up my eCommerce SEO options in order to drive more custom my way and get the site to feature higher up Google’s search results.
  • There has been customer demand to make a mural using just one image; that project is now complete and on the website. I will announce it to our users in a day or two.

My 10% is done, now what?

All that work completed and lots of money spent to make it happen. Results in sales? Not so much.


I bring this up because I crushed the things I could control and, according to Arianna, now I have to wait for the other 90% of the stuff out of my control to happen.


That’s cool.

The reality is though, if the 90% piece doesn’t happen soon, the biz will run out of cash and it will be game over.

That said, my specialty on this entrepreneurial journey has been to rectally-extract rabbits, and I’m definitely trusting in that skill-set to keep things moving forward.

I ain’t gonna lie though, it’s frustrating as f@#k sometimes.

Naturally, I will keep experimenting on things that make sense for the business and remain hopeful the 90% will kick in at the right time.

What do you think about Arianna’s 10% – 100% philosophy? Do you think you can fully control outcomes to your benefit?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Feature image credit: Celine Nadeau controlfreak


  1. I think there are definitely things we can’t control and yet I truly hope that those things will help to contribute to mostly good not create things that will impact is negatively. I also got my fingers continually crossed for you 😉

  2. I think there are definitely things out of our control. However, I don’t agree with the 10%. That would mean others are in control of our destiny for the most part, and I don’t believe that is the case. And you know I am pulling for you!

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