“The successful person makes a habit of doing what the failing person doesn’t do.” – Thomas Edison

Have you ever met an idiot who is more successful than you are? We all have, right? When I am coaching one of my small-business clients, they will frequently say something along the lines of: “I’m just as smart as so-and-so. So why am I working so much harder yet making so much less than him?”

When they ask that question, I’m never quite sure… Do they really want the truth? Or are they simply venting their frustrations? To play it safe, I usually say nothing and wait to hear what comes out next. After a silent pause, the client speaks. And the next few words out of their mouth tell me everything I need to know. If they are serious, they’ll press me and ask again. If not, they’ll simply move on to the next topic.

You see, I need to know if they are serious. Because if they’re not… they aren’t ready to hear the cold, hard truth.

What about you? Do you want to know why people with half your smarts are making 10 times more than you? If so, keep reading…

Today, the Internet provides an overwhelming amount of information. Never before have so many people been so well informed… and yet, so utterly confused.

Lots of entrepreneurs go around thinking that “access to information is what separates the winners from the losers” and that “the smartest person in the room should be the most successful.” Not true. If it were, then whoever bought the most “how-to” products or read the most books would be the richest – and we both know how ridiculous that is.

That’s not to say that getting the right information isn’t important. But it’s only a tool. When it comes to being successful in business, there are a few easily overlooked elements that are absolutely vital. They’re truly the deciding factors.

So, what are the crucial “winning” elements at the core of all successful entrepreneurs (even the “idiots”)?

1. Being Action-Oriented

Taking action is the real difference between the super-successful and the wannabes. Wannabes simply absorb information and, at their very best, react to it. And with such an overwhelming supply of information available on the Internet, most of them are simply numbed by it.

Contrast that with the successful entrepreneurs out there. When they get good information, they act on it – as soon as they possibly can. The main reason why so many don’t take action is because they are paralyzed by the prospect of failure. Add to that their mistaken belief that the next information nugget they come across will make the difference between success and failure, and it becomes obvious why “waiting” for it has them stuck.

If they press on, they only become more confused by conflicting facts. All the while, becoming increasingly frustrated that they still haven’t found the magic they’ve been seeking.

If that sounds like you, here’s my advice: Stay focused! Take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What do I have to get done today?” Not tomorrow or next week or even next month. Today! And not “What do I have to learn to further my success?” but “What do I have to DO?!?” It’s easy to lose your focus on today when you are thinking about tomorrow. And it’s tempting to believe that the next pearl of wisdom you come across is going to make all the difference. But it won’t. You’ll never reach the level of success you crave without taking specific DAILY steps that get you there.

It’s pretty straightforward. To build a successful business, you have to train your brain to crystallize a future vision, break it into small details, and organize those details into daily tasks. After that, all you need is the courage to commit to the completion of those daily tasks – despite all the obstacles that get in your way.

Sounds easy enough, right? So what will sabotage your success? Mainly fear! Fear is your enemy. The little voice whispering “What if it doesn’t work? What if I’m wrong?” Look, some self-doubt is natural – but when it prevents you from achieving the success you deserve, it’s a problem. Which leads to my next point…

2. Rising Above Your Fears and Doubts

You have to get far enough above your doubts to keep working, or you’re doomed. What works for me is to forget about my fears and doubts by getting lost in the project at hand. It works for me, and it’ll work for you. Just throw yourself so deep into your work that your fears stay away until you’ve finished everything that needs to be done. Every successful business owner learns how to do this, sooner or later. What makes it easier is knowing that experience will always be your best teacher.

When it comes to business, you are going to make mistakes. We all do. Even the Intels, Microsofts, and Googles of the world mis-step from time to time. Building a successful company is complex, and there are always factors that lie beyond your control.

The trick is to learn from your mistakes. Just do your best to limit your risk. Focus every day, keep trying, learn what works, and don’t torture yourself when you take a wrong turn. Just notice it, learn from it, and change your approach.

And since we are talking about mistakes… do you know what’s at the root of most mistakes that you’ll make? I see it over and over again, playing out in so many new businesses. Most people would never guess what it is – even though practically everyone who struggles in business is guilty of it. It’s this…

For some strange reason, everyone wants to make things more complicated than they need to be. It’s as if everyone is fascinated by the overly complex. So, instead of keeping things simple, they burden themselves with too much to do and too little time to do any of it right. Which leads me to the next crucial element of entrepreneurial success…

3. Keeping Things As Simple As You Can to Avoid the “Stupidity Tax”

This is a big one. It’s so easily avoidable – but, for some reason, it’s one that almost everyone trying to make a success of an online business seems to walk right into.

Heres an example of how this flawed approach plays out…

Instead of picking one way to drive traffic to their website, mastering it, and then moving on – they do the opposite. They want to learn about launches, pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization, affiliate marketing, and every other method under the sun – all at the same time, and without developing any level of mastery in any of them.

Yet, the most successful online businesses I know concentrate on one method at a time. Agora Inc., for example, focused primarily on pay-per-click advertising to get to their first $50 million in online sales. My company focused on joint venture/affiliate launches – and in nine months, we did over $7 million in sales.

When you pursue multiple directions in your business, you end up making very little progress. And it doesn’t matter if you are smarter and working harder than other people, because you are spread way too thin.

If you’re in an Internet business, making this mistake can really kill you. Here’s why: In the online marketing world, your results are directly related to how your skills stack up against those of your competitors. If your competition is better than you at using Google AdWords, for example, they’ll pay less to get traffic to their website and will convert more of it to sales than you will. In search engine optimization, they’ll rank higher than you. In the affiliate world, whoever converts better, sells more – and, therefore, can pay their affiliates more, which locks other competitors out of the market.

It doesn’t work this way with an offline business. You don’t pay more if your ad or commercial sucks. You might not get as many responses as your competitors – but you’re not locked out, and you’re not forced into an inferior position, saddled with paying the “stupidity tax.”

Isolate the fewest activities you can be successful with. Then knock them off one at a time. Don’t make the mistake of trying to do too much and, thus, marginalize your results. As Confucius said, “Man who chases two rabbits catches neither.”

If you follow my advice, you’ll get to take back quite a bit of the time you’re currently wasting. You’ll be free of wasting time trying to learn too much about too many marketing tactics at once. Plus, you’ll get back the time you’re wasting trying to execute strategies with a superficial level of knowledge. What you do with your newfound free time leads us to our fourth and final success component, which is…

4. Knowing Where the Money Is

It takes time to know your market, but it’s time you must invest if you’re serious about your business’s success.

The first step is quite simply to open your eyes and look at what’s going on around you. You need to keep your finger on the pulse of your market to know what’s “hot.” But that’s only half the equation. The second step is to do your best to understand WHY it’s hot. Until you understand your market on a deeper level, you’ll keep scratching your head and wondering why you are making less than your “dumb” counterparts.

The good news is that once you get it – once you really understand the psychology of your market – your results will improve immediately in all the marketing you do. From e-mails to pay-per-click, your results will multiply, because you’ll know your prospects better than any of your competitors do.

So there you have it. If you’ve ever wondered why you make less than others even if you are smarter than they are, now you know. And it’s up to you to change that. Are you going to make up your mind to keep plodding along in frustration? Or are you going to embrace the four elements of business success that I shared with you here and decide that, once and for all, you are going to do what it takes?

Only time will tell…

[Ed. Note: Rich Schefren is arguably one of the world’s best small-business strategists. His businesses have done over $35 million in sales, and he currently coaches many of today’s top Internet gurus and service providers on streamlining their businesses while exploding their profits. Don’t miss your chance to learn the secrets of Internet marketing from Rich at this year’s Information Marketing Bootcamp: Making a Fast Fortune on the “Other Side” of the Internet.]