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Entrepreneurship: The Three Little Pigs’ Lessons for Success

entrepreneurshipDo you remember the childhood fable, The Three Little Pigs?  Their mother sends them out into the world to “seek” their fortune.

Until recently, I never realized they were entrepreneurs like us, but they are!

You know the story – the first pig builds a house made of straw.

“Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

“No, no, no. Not by the hair on my chinny, chin-chin.”

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”

The big, bad wolf destroys the straw house. Failure!

The second little pig builds his house from sticks and the big, bad wolf demolishes that one, too. Double failure!

Both pigs escape to their third brother’s house, who built his home out of bricks. Success!

It’s here, safe at last in the third brother’s home, that the three little pigs have a chance to show of their entrepreneurship and wisdom.

The Big, Bad Wolves of Entrepreneurship

As entrepreneurs, we encounter many big, bad wolves along the way: tricky technology, writer’s block, struggles with engagement (1,000 subscribers – seriously?!)

Plus, we all have busy lives – maybe outside jobs that pay the bills, family and friends we love, the groceries, the laundry.

It’s never ending.

Neither are the problems. Fear, stress, and worry. It’s hard to stay positive when mishaps feel so overwhelming.

What are we to do?

Never fear. Once upon a time is here…

Three Pig Big Lessons

After that whole ordeal with the big, bad wolf, those piggies went home to their mother for a debriefing session. (This is the part of the story that somehow never makes it into the story books.)

They sat around the kitchen table, and discussed what they had learned:

  1. Experience
  2. Adaptability
  3. Perseverance

As entrepreneurs, we should take these same lessons to heart. Let’s explore each one a little closer.

Lesson #1: Experience is Critical

I guarantee you that after the first pig was almost eaten alive in his wrecked home, he didn’t think, “You know, I want to buy more straw and rebuild the same way.”

There’s no better teacher for us than the School of Hard Knocks. The trick is to grow from our shortcomings and mistakes.

I’ve learned that technology is not my gift. I now trade out expertise with my computer friend for free. He helps with my WordPress issues, while I edit his copy.


Problems still happen, but they’ve decreased a lot since I started asking first, and acting later. I try to evaluate the process as I go.

Are there people in your life who might assist you in areas where you struggle? Technology, writing, marketing? Instead of trying to build your business house with straw over and over again, why not experiment with different ways to move forward?

Takeaway: Take time (weekly, or at least once a month) to pause and reflect about what the Audience Business Masterclass (or other online programs/mentors/coaches) has taught you to date. Use this time of reflection to gain practical knowledge and wisdom to help you move forward.

Lesson #2: It’s About Adaptability

The Three Little Pigs is a story of iterations for entrepreneurs. They realized… this didn’t work… that didn’t work either… how will we ever survive?

The fable has a trio of characters who battle the big, bad wolf together, while most of us started our businesses alone. A passion sparked an idea that lead us on a thrilling (and often terrifying) journey. It can feel every bit as life-or-death to us as the big bad wolf felt to those three pigs.

In order to prosper, we have to adjust to the different phases of our growing businesses. Just like the pigs changed their building tactics, we must also adapt to what is happening in the moment in our businesses, as well as what we hoped would happen. Challenges will arise that we can’t foresee. This is the nature of entrepreneurship.

I heard once, “Always have a plan. Your plan will not always happen.”

Danny Iny, our fearless ABM leader, is a perfect example of changing with his circumstances over the years. I was both shocked and delighted when I read his true confession here.

Can the rest of us achieve what Danny has?

Sure, but he’s very honest about the fact that ABM takes both endless time and effort. Be prepared to commit yourself to serving others and working like crazy.

Takeaway: We must learn to modify and adapt to constant setbacks, and transitions while growing an online business.

Lesson #3: Perseverance is the Key to Success

Despite some rather terrifying experiences, the three pigs never gave up. This is probably the most important lesson for entrepreneurs. Steadfast devotion to what we’re creating is a must in order to succeed.

That’s so much easier said than done. We all feel discouraged at times.

Years ago, I dreamed of writing a novel, but thought I didn’t have the time. I was married, had two young children, a job, and countless other commitments.

To date, I’ve written four novels, am an award-winning copywriter, with publishing credits in national magazines like Writer’s Digest.

Was it easy? No.

Was it worth it? Definitely.

I rearranged my schedule to make more time to follow my dream and learned more about my craft. I’m just still working towards my ultimate goal of publication. The Audience Business Masterclass saved me. It’s been one of the most challenging experiences of my professional career, but I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be in helping others.

What does success look like for you?

It may be a certain income, autonomy over your time, or being your own boss. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but we all must find what inspires us. Your inspiration will guide every decision you make, and each tiny step on our journey leads us closer to or further away from our goals.

Takeaway: We must be persistent in the course of building our businesses despite difficulties, obstacles and discouragement. Keep going not matter what – that’s what successful entrepreneurship is all about!

Their End Is Our Beginning

The three little pigs’ ending is our beginning. They had to endure multiple failures in order to achieve success.

We all do.

And while it’s easy to get lost along the way, let the three little pigs guide you back to three of the most important things about being an entrepreneur:

  1. Experience.
  2. Adaptability.
  3. Perseverance.

I hope this trio leads your business to a “Happily Ever After.”

What did this version of The Three Little Pigs teach you? What’s the #1 lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur? Tell me about it in the comments below!

About Marcy McKay

Marcy believes writing is delicious, but messy and created Mudpie Writing to help other writers to battle their creative monsters.


  1. Jessica Marie says:

    I love the Three Little Pigs. As a teacher I read all the different versions to my students over the years and I have to say that this is one of the best versions I have read. It truly did give a lot of insight. I had just listened to the Connect, Engage, Inspire episode where Danny talks about is ability to adapt and change with FirePole Marketing’s Audience yesterday. After reading and listening to both of these I now have a new perspective about how I can offer the best sources to my audience and still live out my vision.

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Heléna says:

    I heard a great quote years ago, that has been one of my mantras ever since: “There are no failures…only lessons learned.”

  3. Hi Marcy,

    Super clever analogy here. The thing about experience is, you can get it through persisting, through thick and thin. Once you experience some circumstance, and choose to learn from it, you’ll succeed as an entrepreneur.

    Your writing career proves this. It was tough at times but worth it in the end. I had no entrepreneurial experience 5 years ago. I was a fired security officer with a degree in meteorology who didn’t want to go into that field, for many reasons.

    What did I do? I turned online, with no experience business-wise, or online wise. I didn’t know what a blog was. I’m not kidding. I knew how to check my email and visit espn.com, that’s it, but wouldn’t you know that after struggling like heck for a minute I’ve become pro blogger, retired from the 9-5 and living in paradise.

    The experience bit, well, it took me years to learn some lessons and I’m learning more day by day, but I’m able to benefit more quickly from my mistakes these days than I ever did in the past.

    Failure taught me some harsh lessons, until I decided to stop failing endlessly, by learning and applying a new approach to the online bit.

    Such a smart share Marcy, love it.

    Thanks much.

    Tweeting soon.


    1. Marcy McKay says:

      Your story is so inspirational, Ryan. You’ve definitely broadened your horizons beyond ESPN.COM. I love it! Your patience, persistence and willingness to grow is paying off. Good for you and keep up the good work!

  4. Carolynne says:

    Hi Marcy,
    I love this article. It has given me a mother angle to look at writing. I am in the reflection stage right now of my ABM journey. Other than that I am all about perseverance. There are days when I question what the heck I am doing then the next day I am back on track getting boost from a completed guest post or step in my site building. I too have had reach out for help, after a life time of being self-sufficient! I am growing into community and Firepole Marketing has helped me with that. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Marcy McKay says:

      Our journeys sound very similar, Carolynne. It’s cliche to say but entrepreneurship really comes down to part-inspiration and part-perspiration. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with everyone.

  5. Heléna says:

    Mine is The Velveteen Rabbit because it’s all about being “Real.” So great when you get to the point in you life (including your entrepreneurial life) when you can just be yourself (“Real”) and encourage your clients to be their own best (“Real”) selves. Love the quote: “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 🙂

    1. Marcy McKay says:

      Awwwww, Helena. Velveteen Rabbit is also one of my favorite books as a child. I definitely think one of our greatest gifts as entrepreneurs is to be “real.” Thanks for that lovely reminder. Best wishes.

  6. Susan Gregg says:

    That would be an interesting project … add endings or summaries to all the traditional kid’s stories just like you did with the three little pigs.

    I often use the Wizard of Oz with my clients to remind them that they have everything they need within themselves. Just click those ruby red slippers …

    Thanks for the great article Marcy!

    1. Marcy McKay says:

      Hey there, Susan. I’m a HUGE fan of The Wizard of Oz and love your analogy, though sometimes I feel every bit as frightened as Dorothy with entrepreneurship: “I’m NOT in Kansas anymore!” Thanks for giving my twist an even NEWER twist.

  7. Jeremy says:

    That was an inspiring post – thanks Marcy.

    My #1 lesson comes from a fellow woodworker of course. I was working with him on a house renovation and complaining about the problem of making the first cut into an expensive piece of timber –

    “I’m always worried I’ll make a pigs ear of it!”.

    He just said, “Jeremy, you either cuts it right or you cuts it wrong”.

    You have to keep taking steps, even if you’re worried you might be going in the wrong direction.

    1. Marcy McKay says:

      What a terrific story, Jeremy! Thanks for sharing. We never know where our life lessons will come from, do we? Keep taking those steps, trusting that you’re headed in the right direction.

  8. Alison says:

    Great post and love the analogy!

    I think all 3 points are important but number 3 for me is especially crucial when taking steps with projects that push you out of your comfort zone. I know for me there are so many times when fear or self-doubt threaten to knock me off course or give up all together. Finding support networks have been key in helping me keep on moving forward.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

    1. Marcy McKay says:

      Hi Alison – Fear and self-doubt do seem to be part of entrepreneurship, too. Sounds like you have a great support network. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and appreciate your comment.

  9. Sally says:

    Hi Marcy,

    Great post and I love the 3 little pigs analogy.

    The #1 lesson I’ve learnt…? That’s a tricky one. It’s all learning and the learning never stops! But if I have to pick one then it would be the power of connections.When you’re just starting out connect with people who’re already doing what you want to do. And learn from them. Also connect with your peers. The support and information you get from a strong network is invaluable.

    I also agree with you about perseverance. If you believe in what you’re doing, keep at it. And celebrate that first sale! I recently launched a new product to a pilot group. And my first sale felt great. It means you’re on the right track – now you just need to do more of whatever you’re doing.

    Thanks for a great article!

    1. Marcy McKay says:

      Congratulations on your first sale, Sally. Fantastic. Connections are key. Not only do they help our businesses, but they also help our SOULS while building our businesses. Both are equally important. I’m saluting your success so far and wish you many more sales in the future!

  10. James Bradrick says:

    Congrats on the unique angle. Well written. What’s my #1 lesson?
    The topography or environment of my endeavour seems to be continually shifting and changing. Daily I must reaffirm my commitment to what I’ve chosen to do. Never say die.

    1. Marcy McKay says:

      NEVER SAY DIE! I LOVE that, James. And you’re right. Entrepreneurship requires daily commitment to keep our dreams alive. Thanks for brightening my day!

  11. Virginia says:

    What a fun analogy using the 3 Little Pigs. Entertaining and educational at the same time. Thanks for the good reminders.

    1. Marcy McKay says:

      Thank you, Virginia. If I had to pick just one lesson for entrepreneurs, I think perseverance is most important. In order to succeed, we MUST keep going. That’s hard and scary sometimes, so I believe in baby steps. Big sweeping change is too big and scary. Take care.

  12. Cody says:

    Very nicely put. Just a little more commentary about failing.

    If you take the approach of a researcher or a scientist then you are in a constant state of “failing” and unknowing. When you discover something and learn whether it’s possibly true or not you have to move forward with the next test.

    If bloggers and businesses approach the world in a more scientific manner then they would have all of their preconceived notions on a tablet and be ready to challenge them through testing.

    This is my preferred way of looking at things. This way you aren’t really failing you are learning. Each attempt is about improving, refining and adapting.

    For example: Do small businesses and bloggers with a team of 6-10 need a resource to go to for their marketing needs?

    You then list out all of the possible ways to challenge that question for and against.

    I would suggest to have objectives as opposed to a plan. A plan you are expected to follow. An objective is something you go towards.

    1. Shelley says:

      Absolutely brilliant comments and ideas, Cody!

      I would change one word in the post to reflect my perspective and experience. I wouldn’t actually remove the word “failure”, but would cross it out within the post, and follow with the word “challenge”.

      Terminology such “challenge” and “obstacle” is more reflective and realistic of the big picture, and in themselves create inspiration to overcome!

      In my experience I do not need to ‘fail’ in order to learn and grow, but those challenges have afforded EQUAL GROWTH, thus are positives. Thus, I do not attach a negative word to describe them.

      Thanks for adding your “take home” to an already brilliant experience with the post!!

      Counting it all joy!!

      1. Marcy McKay says:

        I like your additions, Shelley. And you’re right, there really is not failure if we continue to grow. However, that’s hard to remember during those challenges or obstacles. Good luck in growing your business!

    2. Marcy McKay says:

      Wow, Cody. What a fascinating perspective. Thanks for sharing with everyone. Entrepreneurs (successful ones, anyway) are always modifying and adapting, so therefore, they aren’t failing. I appreciate you weighing in. Best~

  13. Heléna says:

    What a fabulously written post!! Not one unnecessary word. Loved it!
    Of course, I am probably a little biased considering my tendency to live in a child’s world. (sigh) However, I’m learning to stop apologising for that. Why? I realise more and more, that I too learn many lessons from children’s stories. In turn, they allow me to bring forth my best ideas for my tribe. “Gracias” from Madrid. (Heléna Kurçab)

    1. Marcy McKay says:

      Hola, Helena! No apologies necessary for loving children’s stories. They speak the truth of our lives, and keep it much more real than adults. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and hope it helps you as you continue to build your tribe. Good luck!

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