Here were some of the biggest trends in their business advice:
- Business ideas alone are worth very little. If you want to start a business and become successful with it, you need to solve meaningful problems. Execution is everything in business.
- Don’t just start a blog (or any type of business) unless you’ll be doing something you truly love and are good at, or unless you can dedicate yourself to becoming that expert over the coming years. And if you do want to start a blog, be sure to get started on the right foot with the advice from one of these blogging courses.
- Becoming successful in business is more about your mentality, psychology and determination than it is about finding little tips, tricks, hacks, and exploitations in the marketplace.
- Start today. The only true way to learn is by doing and you can’t afford to sit around waiting for funding, hoping someone else will come along to help you execute on your idea or complain that you don’t have the time. Making excuses won’t help you start a business and it sure as hell won’t help you create the lifestyle you want for yourself.
- Launch before you feel ready. If you wait until your product or service feels perfect, someone else will already be doing a better job of helping your customers solve their problems. Validate your business idea by launching fast, bringing on a small group of paying customers and adapting to make your solution great for them over time. You’ll learn how to validate ideas quickly & cheaply in my course, 30 Days to Validate.
- How you choose to manage your time and decide which opportunities to pursue will greatly impact your success when starting a business. Outsource everything you can, so that you can focus on doing what only you can do in your business.
- Do everything in your power to avoid spending money when you start a business. Build a lean solution that provides value to your customers and only spend money on the absolute essentials at the moment you need them.
- Never stop building meaningful relationships with customers and other people in your industry. Choosing to instead view competitors as potential partners and collaborators can positively impact your business in a big way.
- Focus on setting & achieving small incremental goals rather than trying to start a business and instantly build your vision of what the company should be in the years to come. Setting realistic goals and milestones is a major component of building long-term success. This mentality is how I went from learning what a blog is, to eventually choosing a website builder to growing my blog with tactics like guest blogging and social promotion.
- And much, much more…
Whether you want to start a business for the first time or you’re an experienced entrepreneur, you’ll find incredible value in the best business advice and success tips these entrepreneurs have to share today—some of them even made their way over to my list of the best motivational quotes I’ve heard.
Want the really good stuff?
25 Top Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Business Advice and Tips for Success
Let’s kick this off with one of my biggest heroes in the world of business, Sir Richard Branson.
1. Richard Branson.
Sir Richard Branson, one of the world’s most recognizable billionaires, and the founder of Virgin Group, has built an empire comprised of more than 400 companies including airlines, record stores, publishing organizations and he’s even tackling commercial space travel. He’s also the author of more than a dozen business books, including his latest (fantastic) autobiography, Finding My Virginity that shares from behind-the-scenes of the ups and downs throughout Branson’s more than fifty year career as an entrepreneur. During his interview on 30 Days of Genius with CreativeLive, I got to hear his best business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business of their own, first-hand:
“The best businesses come from people’s bad personal experiences. If you just keep your eyes open, you’re going to find something that frustrates you, and then you think, ‘well I could maybe do it better than it’s being done,’ and there you have a business.”
“If you can improve people’s lives, you have a business. People think, ‘well everything’s been thought of,’ but actually, all of the time, there are gaps in the market here and gaps in the market there.”
2. Arianna Huffington.
Arianna is a co-founder of The Huffington Post, author of the recent New York Times best-seller The Sleep Revolution and recently stepped down as Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post to pursue her new wellness startup, Thrive Global, which will offer wellness trainings and workshops on stress reduction. Here’s her business advice for entrepreneurs who want to start a business for the first time:
“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.”
“When you get reviews like that and detractors like that, you have to really believe in your product. When you really believe in your product, you are willing to deal with all the naysayers and persevere.” For more advice from Arianna, watch her full interview on Inc.
3. Mark Cuban.
Mark is an entrepreneur and investor on ABC’s Shark Tank. He’s the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theatres, Magnolia Pictures, and is the chairman of the HDTV cable network AXS TV. In his recent interview on 30 Days of Genius with CreativeLive, Mark talked a lot about the mistakes many new entrepreneurs make when they think they’ve found a profitable business idea. Here’s his business advice to those who want to start a business:
“What I always ask people is, (1) is it something you love to do and (2) is this something you’re good at?”
“Then, taking that first step is always the hardest. It’s terrifying, but really, it’s about preparation. We all go through this process where you’ve got the business idea, you get that feeling in your stomach and you get all excited. Then you talk to a friend, and your friend says, ‘oh wow that’s pretty cool, I’ve never heard of anything like that. I’d buy that.’ And then you do the Google search.”
“The first thing I’ll tell you, is that just because you don’t see it on Google, doesn’t mean one hundred companies haven’t gone out of business doing the same thing. It hasn’t been done for a reason, because every company that’s tried it, has gone out of business.”
4. Robert Herjavec.
Robert is a seasoned entrepreneur and investor who’s built & sold several companies to major brands like AT&T. Now a leading authority on information security technology, he’s also one of the most recognizable faces from ABC’s award-winning show, Shark Tank where he’s earned a reputation for sharing down-to-earth business advice to young entrepreneurs. Here’s Robert’s best business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs when it comes to pitching your idea:
“You have 90 seconds, if you’re lucky. If you can’t make your point persuasively in that time, you’ve lost the chance for impact. Facts and figures are important, but it’s not the only criteria, you must present in a manner that generates expertise and confidence.”
“If you’re not prepared to make your pitch, you may just miss your next big opportunity.”
For more advice on how to successfully pitch investors, check out my friend Jock’s guide on how to pitch a Shark.
5. Sophia Amoruso.
Sophia transformed Nasty Gal from an eBay store into a multi-million dollar empire with her own clothing line that was named the fastest growing retailer in 2012. She’s also the author of the New York Times best-seller #GIRLBOSS. Here’s her best piece of business advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business:
“Don’t give up, don’t take anything personally, and don’t take no for an answer; you never know what you’re going to learn along the way.”
“The people who told me no, were the people that eventually told me yes; so don’t forget it.”
6. Tony Robbins.
Tony is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, philanthropist and the nation’s #1 life and business strategist. A recognized authority on the psychology of leadership, negotiations and organizational turnaround, he has served as an advisor to leaders around the world for more than 38 years. He’s also the author of five internationally bestselling books, including the recent New York Times #1 best-seller MONEY: Master The Game. Tony has empowered more than 50 million people from 100 countries through his audio, video and life training programs. Here’s his business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business:
“The most painful mistake I see in first-time entrepreneurs is thinking that just having a business plan or a great concept is enough to guarantee success. It’s not. Business success is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics. And, frankly, most people’s psychology is not meant for building a business.”
“My business advice? Think honestly about who you are, what you want to accomplish, and what mindset you need to have to get there. Because the biggest thing that will hold you back is your own nature. Few people are natural risk-takers or emotionally ready for the challenges of building a business. You can’t just sign up for a marathon and run it without ever training. You have to increase your capacity and become fit. Being an entrepreneur requires similar kinds of emotional and psychological fitness so that you don’t become the chokehold on your business’s success.”
7. Tim Ferriss.
Tim is a New York Times best-selling author of three books, including the The 4-Hour Workweek. He’s also an investor, host of what’s usually the #1-ranked business podcast and an entrepreneur in his own rite. Today, he’s passing on the best business advice he’s received:
“The best advice I’ve ever received is that you’re the average of the 5 people you associate with most.”
“I’ve actually heard this from more than one person, including bestselling authors, Drew Houston of Dropbox, and many others who are icons of Silicon Valley. It’s something I re-read every morning. It’s also said that ‘your network is your net worth.’ These two work well together.”
8. Guy Kawasaki.
Guy is Chief Evangelist of Canva, the author of thirteen books including the acclaimed Art of the Start, which has been hailed as a weapon of mass creation by entrepreneurs around the world. He’s also the former chief evangelist of Apple. Here’s his business advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business of their own:
“My best business tip is to focus on the prototype. Don’t focus on your pitch deck, business plan or financial projections.”
“If you get a prototype out and you get enough people using it, you never have to write a business plan, do a forecast or do anything like that. A prototype is where you separate the BS from the reality.”
9. Derek Sivers.
Derek has been a musician, producer, circus performer, entrepreneur, TED speaker, and book publisher. He started CDBaby and HostBaby, which got way too big, so he gave them away. Now he’s a writer, programmer and student. Here’s his best business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:
“Start now, you don’t need funding. Watch out for when you want to do something big, but say you can’t until you raise money to fund the idea. It usually means you’re more in love with the idea of being big than with actually doing something useful.”
“For an idea to get big, it has to be something useful–and being useful doesn’t need funding. If you want to be useful, you can always start right now with just 1% of what you have in your grand vision. It’ll be a humble prototype of your grand vision, but you’ll be in the game. You’ll be ahead of the rest because you actually started, when others waited for the finish line to magically appear at the starting line.” Read this post from Derek for much more.
10. Nir Eyal.
Nir is the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and blogs about the psychology of products at NirAndFar.com. Here’s his two cents and success tips for first-time entrepreneurs who want to start a business:
“The easiest way to tell if someone is a first-time entrepreneur is when they’re secretive about their ideas. I don’t reply to people who ask me to sign an NDA. Real entrepreneurs know good ideas are cheap and that success comes from hard work, not a stroke of genius.”
“The other big mistake I see entrepreneurs make is building a product for a customer they don’t know well. That’s why I always advise entrepreneurs to build a product for themselves–at least that way you ensure you’ve built something for a user you know intimately. All of the great tech companies of the past decade–Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Snapchat–were built by founders who were making products they wanted to use.”
11. Tara Gentile.
Author, speaker, and the founder of Quiet Power Strategy®. Tara works with business owners to help them transition into more profitable business models, more compelling messaging, and more influence. She’s featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc, and DailyWorth for the work she’s done on TaraGentile.com. Here’s Tara’s take on the biggest mistake new entrepreneurs make when they want to start a business:
“They wait to get started. They wait until they have more information, more experience, more, more money, and a more perfect version of whatever they have created.”
“All that waiting means they’re not really learning. When you’re an entrepreneur, the best way to learn is to do something, to put your idea into someone’s hands, or to talk to the people you want to serve. Stop waiting and do… something.”
Want to learn more from Tara? Check out her classes on CreativeLive covering a wide range of topics like turning your service into a product, building a community around your business, writing and selling eBooks, and more.
12. Chase Jarvis.
After becoming one of the world’s most well-known photographers at a relatively young age, Chase went on to co-found, CreativeLive, the world’s largest live streaming education company. Here’s his business advice for new entrepreneurs who want to start a business of their own:
“Scratch your own itch. Go after solving a problem that you have. Something that’s near and dear to you, not some random market opportunity.”
“Because, when things get hard, if you’re chasing just the dollars, or a random market opportunity, you’re not going to be able to have the fortitude, the passion, to stay with it.”
13. Noah Kagan.
Noah’s the Chief Sumo at AppSumo, a community for entrepreneurs to discover and utilize the greatest products and blogging tools for growing businesses. He also runs Sumo, a powerful suite of tools for growing web traffic, and was employee #30 at Facebook before getting fired and moving on to be an early director of marketing at Mint. Here’s his business advice for entrepreneurs wanting to start a business for the first time:
“Don’t waste time or spend money on non-core issues when starting a business. In fact, don’t spend any money until you make some.”
In an interview on my podcast, The Side Hustle Project, Noah shared with me even more of his business advice and thoughts about how aspiring entrepreneurs should go about starting their projects—including how he earned $1,000 in 24hrs on a brand new idea… selling beef jerky. Give that interview a listen right here:
14. Steli Efti.
Steli is the CEO of Close, a high-powered inside sales communication platform (and my pick as the best CRM for small business) that’s powered by his years of experience driving millions of dollars in sales for hundreds of venture backed Silicon Valley startups. Here’s what Steli has to share as far as business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business today:
“One of the most painful and common mistakes I see first-time entrepreneurs make is that they fall in love with their own business idea.”
“They’ll spend months building what they believe to be the next innovative, disruptive, game-changing startup. Then they launch… and nobody buys, nobody cares, nothing happens.”
“Don’t fall in love with your business idea. Instead, fall in love with the problem you’re trying to solve for your customers, and validate your business idea early on that it is a problem worth solving.”
15. Vanessa Van Edwards.
A Huffington Post columnist, Vanessa’s groundbreaking work at Science of People has been featured on NPR, the Wall Street Journal, the Today Show and USA Today. Here’s what she believes is the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make when they start a business for the first time:
“There is no path! I think the biggest mistake first-time entrepreneurs make is they desperately want a structured business plan and direct path.”
“One of the most important things about starting a business is being flexible. Listening to customers, watching data and making iterations and changes as needed. Sometimes having a path or a rigid business plan can limit you. Think of your business like a meadow not a path, just play!”
16. Lewis Howes.
Lewis is the New York Times best-selling author of The School of Greatness, and host of the top-ranked podcast bearing the same name. He’s a writer, speaker, and online educator that teaches entrepreneurs how to start profitable online businesses—and he shares his story in this episode of my podcast, right here. Here’s his single best piece of business advice for aspiring young entrepreneurs:
“Perfectionism cripples a lot of entrepreneurs. They won’t launch their site or put their product up for sale until they think it’s perfect, which is a big waste of time. It’s never going to be perfect.”
“Pitch your product or service as soon as you have the bare bones of it put together. This will give you valuable feedback about whether your market really wants it. You can polish it later.”
17. Jon Acuff.
Jon is the New York Times best-selling author of five books, including Do Over. He’s helped some of the biggest brands in the world tell their story, including The Home Depot, Bose and Staples. Now, he speaks to hundreds of thousands of people annually and reaches over 4 million readers on his blogs. Here’s his business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business:
“What I’ve learned, and what you’re going to learn too, is that being an entrepreneur takes hustle. And here’s the problem: Sometimes we think hustle is about becoming a workaholic or adding a lot of stuff to our lives.”
“Hustle is an act of focus, not frenzy. Hustle is about subtraction and addition. It’s not about doing more, it’s about focusing on the things that you need to do, in order to move your business forward. Hustle the right way.”
18. Syed Balkhi.
As the founder of WPBeginner, Optinmonster and several more successful online businesses, Syed has learned a thing or two about starting a business in his 25 years as an entrepreneur. When asked to share his best business advice for young entrepreneurs, here’s what he has to say:
“Perfect is a curse. Innovation is messy. Test, learn, and improve.”
“Often new entrepreneurs wait too long to put their product out in the market. With limited resources at hand, its crucial that you get an MVP out ASAP and start getting traction. Take the user’s feedback to iterate and improve your products.”
“Not launching fast enough is a mistake you simply can’t afford to make. If you want to get an edge over others, launch now!”
19. Sujan Patel.
Sujan is a growth marketer and co-founder of the content marketing agency, Web Profits. He also runs Mailshake, Narrow and jumps out of airplanes in his free time—but seriously, Sujan has some impressive marketing skills and he (unknowingly) taught me much of what I’ve learned about going from learning how to make a website to picking up how to drive traffic to my blog. Here’s his best business advice for first-time entrepreneurs who want to start a business today:
“The most painful mistake I see inexperienced entrepreneurs make is copying or doing the same things that successful entrepreneurs have done, expecting similar results. What first-time entrepreneurs don’t realize is that the world is not a vacuum and there’s more going on behind the scenes than it appears. There’s much more effort that has gone into creating the success they see on the surface, and there’s no guarantee that a particular tactic or strategy will be successful for everyone.”
“My advice to first time entrepreneurs is to not get caught up in the glamour and don’t take things for face value. Rather, use these successes they read about as inspiration for what you can do too. I almost always recommend they set more realistic goals and forget about ‘going viral’ or trying to be like someone else.”
20. Ilise Benun.
Ilise teaches creative professionals how to get better clients with bigger budgets. She mentors, coaches, and sells marketing tools for entrepreneurs on her site, the Marketing Mentor. Here’s how she advises first-time entrepreneurs when it comes to setting expectations around what it takes to start a business:
“Most people start out with completely unrealistic expectations of what level of effort is required and how long it takes to get a business off the ground. They are easily discouraged and give up way too soon. I blame it on wishful thinking.”
“The reality is that there is no way to know how long it will take or whether it will work at all. So my advice is to approach it with humility, grit and a willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed, even if that means you have to work really hard for a long time.”
21. Jeff Haden.
Jeff is a ghostwriter, speaker, LinkedIn Influencer and contributing editor to Inc. He worked his way up to managing a 250-employee book plant and has become a sought-after ghostwriter for the world’s top business leaders. He’s written more than 50 books, including six Amazon Business and Investing No. 1’s. He’s collected four years of business advice in his most recent book, TransForm: Dramatically Improve Your Career, Business, Relationships, and Life … One Simple Step at a Time. Here’s his best piece of business advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business of their own:
“Never forget that your business needs to take in more money than it spends. I know that sounds too simple, but so many people lose sight of that. That’s also why so many first-time entrepreneurs over-invest (or spend so much of their time looking for investors) early on.”
“Instead, work to come up with a creative solution that costs little to no money. That forced discipline will help you spend less than you make, even when you’re not making a lot. Sometimes capital is necessary, but at some point there must be return on that capital. There’s nothing wrong with taking equity investment, investing for the future, even losing money for a few years. But your plan has to get you back to that simple equation of making more than you spend.”
22. Larry Kim.
Larry is the founder of both Mobile Monkey, a next-generation chat bot for marketers, and Wordsream, a leading provider of AdWords, Facebook and keyword research tools used by over a million marketers worldwide. Larry is also a top columnist at Inc magazine, a Techstars mentor and keynote speaker for events around the world. Here’s his best business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:
“The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs make is over-estimating the novelty of their big idea.”
“Most often when I get pitched ideas from first-time entrepreneurs, I ask how is this different from [x]? Seriously, because it takes so much time and effort to go all-in on a business idea, you might as well wait for a truly great one.”
23. Srinivas Rao.
Author of Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best and host of the acclaimed podcast, The Unmistakable Creative, Srini has interviewed over 600 entrepreneurs, creatives and thought leaders from all walks of life. From Tim Ferriss to Seth Godin, Kevin Kelly, Ryan Holiday and more, Srini has learned from the best, what it takes to become successful in business. Here’s his business advice for aspiring entrepreneur who want to start a business of their own:
“Probably the most costly mistake many entrepreneurs make is in choosing the people that they work with or hire. It’s a mistake I’ve made. And it’s a mistake I’ve seen over and over again.”
“The way we’ve gotten around that is to always work with somebody on a project before we start handing over significant equity stakes or large sums of money. If the trial project goes well, then talk about expanding the scope of the relationship. Sam Altman from Y-Combinator once said something to the equivalent of ‘a bad hire in the first few employees can be detrimental to a startup.’ I’ve really taken that to heart in my business.”
24. Michelle Schroeder.
Michelle is an entrepreneur and blogger that runs the personal finance and lifestyle blog, Making Sense of Cents. Since 2011, she’s been using her background in finance to write great content and grow her blog business to over $70,000 in revenue per month. Here’s her business advice for new entrepreneurs who want to start a business and become gainfully self-employed:
“The most painful mistake I see first-time (or inexperienced) entrepreneurs make is that they see others in their industry or blog niche as competition. This can significantly hold you back, as you may never learn industry secrets and tips, make genuine friends, and more.”
“Instead, I think you should see others in your industry or niche as colleagues and friends. You should network with others, attend conferences, reach out to people, and more.”
25. Conrad Wadowski.
Founder of GrowHack, an email subscription of 17,000 founders and practitioners focused on repeatable monthly growth. Here’s the business advice Conrad has to impart with entrepreneurs who want to start a business today:
“At this point, I’ve worked closely with dozens of new technology products. Across the board, the most painful mistake I see first-time entrepreneurs make is placing too much focus on building product versus learning from users. There usually isn’t much risk in building software, but there’s a lot of risk in bringing a new product to market.”
“A few ways to solve this include: constantly talking to users, building an audience while or before you build and taking time to learn how users actually behave with your product. Not easy, but if you can really understand which type of user you want to optimize toward, you’ll increase your odds of finding an initial wedge in the market.”