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If you’ve long been dreaming of joining the ranks of successful founders, read on. We’ve culled some of the best advice from the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. What’s more, we hope this post gives you the clarity and motivation to forge ahead and follow your dreams.
Believe in Yourself and the Good of Your Enterprise
Ariana Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post and one of the world’s most successful founders, has said, “If you’re going to start a business, you need to really love it, because not everybody is going to love it. When The Huffington Post was first launched in 2005, there were so many detractors. I remember a critic who wrote that the Huffington Post was an unsurvivable failure.”
It’s hard to believe that something like that can be said about the successful and enduring Huffington Post, but it’s true. What this tells us is that every endeavor worth its salt will often come with naysayers. What’s more, it’s often best to ignore them. When you believe in your business, the opinion of others should matter only if they’re saying something that is aligned with your growth.
Do What You Love and Love What You Do
Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs was born February 24, 1955, and died of cancer on October 5, 2011. He also had something to say about work: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life. And the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Simply put, believing in your work will be your North Star. What’s more, your belief will help you persist when challenges arise and obstacles lie in your path.
Be a Problem-Solving Enterprise
The first American black woman to become a self-made millionaire and one of the most successful founders of her time was Madam C. J. Walker. Madam Walker got started on her path to success when she noticed that black women had specific hair problems and concerns that required new solutions. Over the years, Walker developed, marketed, and expanded her growing line of hair and scalp care products. She believed in her products—she personally used them—and she filled a void in the market.
Madam C. J. Walker’s success is a perfect example of how a business can succeed when it solves a problem. Therefore, no matter what enterprise you start, be sure to ask yourself what value you are offering others. When you can confidently answer this question, you will be on the path to becoming one of the world’s successful founders.
Must Successful Founders Always Invent Something New?
However, this does not mean your goal is to invent something totally new. This is especially true now when new things pop up every other day.
On the contrary, the trick is to innovate. See what’s already out there and figure out how you can improve it to serve a specific market. Send Later CEO Nathan Latka says, “Don’t invent something new. Copy what works and make tweaks to push it over the top.”
In other words, successful founders often think in terms of product innovation. For example, consider smartphones, which get yearly refreshes. Likewise, when it comes to the product you have in mind, think of ways you can improve it. What new features can you introduce?
Successful Founders Find New Solutions
Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, did right by consumers all over the world by creating an efficient platform for sending money online. Today, we take for granted that we can pay for goods and services within seconds. Moreover, Musk created this platform in a world where paying online by credit or debit card was already commonplace.
However, Musk took it one step further. That is, he combined money transfer with payment for goods and services without having to expose your credit card to all the merchants you transact with.
Successful Founders Get Technical
Profit is one of the cornerstones of entrepreneurial success. After all, if you’re not making any returns on your efforts then why pursue them?
However, if you want to know if an endeavor is making enough profit, it pays to know the details of your financials. This is especially true when you are just starting out and are still in no position to hire a lot of staff. As you go it alone (or with a very lean team), learn to do many tasks on your own. This is particularly true with tasks that require performance monitoring.
Sian Lenegan, founder of widely successful digital agency Sixth Story, advises entrepreneurs to personally attend to their finances. Doing so, she says, will allow them to discover growth opportunities as they come to terms with their company’s real numbers.
Get Help When You Need It
However, are you not so good with math and accounting? No problem, says Lenegan. Fortunately, there are resources that can help entrepreneurs manage their finances. Lenegan also goes on to say that she personally uses a virtual financial director service that’s designed for both small- and medium-scale businesses. This helps her to manage her business’s financials.
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Recruit People You Admire
Once you feel that you’re ready to get others on board, it is important to be prudent about whom you welcome into your entrepreneurial fold. This applies to all individuals who will play a part in your business. Therefore, whether you’re aligning with a new partner or hiring an administrative assistant, look for people who share your mindset when it comes to work.
LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman shares that the one quick way to change yourself is to be in the company of individuals whom you admire. You need to see the kind of good you like in the people who are part of your team.
Focus on Incremental Growth
When you have a great start and your business is doing really well, you might see this as a sign to take it to the next level. While that’s the natural way of doing things, remember that a good approach is to concentrate on your next small step.
Coach.me founder and CEO Tony Stubbelbine says, “Focus on the next step and don’t try to make your five-year vision happen tomorrow.” In other words, aiming for the stars is perfectly acceptable. But focusing on small expansion goals will be easier and poses fewer risks. Always remember that small gains add up. Moreover, before you know it you will be in a whole new level of doing business.
No Two Paths Are the Same
Remember: When it comes to entrepreneurship, it’s going to be different for every person. If an entrepreneur runs more than one endeavor at a time, it will be different for every type of business he or she runs. There is no linear formula that every person can follow to success. In fact, for many there will be roundabouts, one step forward and two steps back, and so on.
These wise words from successful founders will certainly help a lot. But a large part of getting your endeavor up, running, and thriving will be based on your gut feel and personal assessment of how things are going. Leave room for mistakes, take opportunities as they come, and always stay the course!