Starting and running your own business can be a risky venture, to say the least. Not only will you be devoting a lot of time and energy to it, but you may also be sinking every cent you have into it with the hopes that everything will turn out right. If you’ve never run a business before, you will probably feel completely out of your element, at least at the start.
Once you do get your business underway, and often even before you start, you will most likely get a ton of advice (often unsolicited) from your friends, your family, your associates and just about everybody you come across. Sometimes their advice is helpful but, more often than not, it’s just some rhetoric that you’ve probably heard a hundred times already.
While I could offer some advice of my own, I believe it would be much more beneficial for you to hear from those who have already proven themselves in the business world. Those who have discovered what truly works, and put those principles into action time and again.
I have taken the liberty to research the best advice from some of the best minds in the business world, and I’m going to share them with you. So without further ado, here are eight lessons you can learn from some of the top leaders in their industries.
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Steve Jobs -- co-founder of Apple Computers.Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
“When you grow up, you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.” Steve Jobs' from Vision of the World.
Much too often we get into the mindset that we can’t really be better. We are often taught that this is all there is to life, to raise a family and maybe save a little money -- while having as much fun as we can. When you try to do things differently, there will be naysayers who will insist you can’t change things, you have no influence, you aren’t smart enough or talented enough -- but you have to remember that you are just as capable of making big changes as you are with small ones. All you really need is the desire and the drive and the belief that you can do anything you put your mind to.
Bill Gates -- co-founder of Microsoft.Chesnot | Getty Images
"If we weren't still hiring great people and pushing ahead, it would be easy to fall behind and become a mediocre company. Fear should guide you, but it should be latent. I consider failure on a regular basis." Bill Gates in a 1994 interview.
This basic concept advises that you should allow fear to be a compass, but not an overwhelming factor in your business decision. If you aren’t "afraid" of being mediocre, you will remain stagnant. If you don’t consider failure on a regular basis, then you’ll never see it coming.
Mark Zuckerberg founder of Facebook.David Ramos | Getty Images
“I always think that you should start with the problem that you're trying to solve in the world and not start with deciding that you want to build a company. And the best companies that get built are things that are trying to drive some kind of social change even if it's just local in one place more than starting out because you want to make a bunch of money or have a lot of people working for you or build some company in some way” -- How to Build the Future with Mark Zuckerberg.
Mark Zuckerberg discovered early on how to build a successful business and that, according to him, is by not trying to build a successful business, so to speak. If you want to make something successful, look for a problem and then solve the problem. If you start out seeking to make a lot of money, you’ll probably fail -- but if you start out looking for a solution to a problem, the rest will take care of itself.
Dennis Crowley -- co-founder of FourSquare.Mike Lawrie | Getty Images
“The best piece of advice that we’ve figured out from building FourSquare is not to let other people distract what you’re doing. There’s always haters that say ‘Your idea is stupid… this idea is never going to work… don’t even bother doing that because somebody is going to do it before you do’. If we listened to all the negative feedback, we would never have built things.” -- Dennis Crowley's Best Advice: Ignore The Haters.
Don’t listen to what people say you can’t do. You’ll always have the naysayers or the haters who try to convince you that ‘it’s not going to work’ or that your idea is stupid. Don’t listen to those people. Believe in yourself and in your idea and go about making it work, regardless of what anybody says.
Jeff Bezos -- CEO of Amazon.com.Gabriel Olsen | Getty Images
“When we’re at our best, we don’t wait for external pressures. We are internally driven to improve our services, adding benefits and features, before we have to. We lower prices and increase value for customers before we have to. We invent before we have to. These investments are motivated by customer focus rather than by reaction to competition.” -- 2012 Letter to Shareholders.
One of the biggest mistakes small businesses and startups make is trying to ‘predict current trends’ and adjust their business model. The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, doesn’t believe in predicting trends, they see the whole customer base, they see what needs to be done, by doing what nobody else is doing. When others are raising their prices, Amazon looks to how it can lower prices. While other businesses are happy with the status quo, Amazon is always reinventing itself, finding ways to make themselves better, to better serve their customers and clients. They focus on the customers and pay little attention to what their competition is doing. That, according to Jeff Bezos, is why they are always one step ahead of the competition.
Brad Smith -- CEO of Intuit.Handout | Getty Images
“Have the courage to take risks and grow by learning from your successes and failures. My favorite quote is from Winston Churchill who once noted that 'success is the ability to move from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.' Let’s face it, our greatest lessons often come from those things that didn’t work. Don’t hide the experience -- embrace it!” -- Intuit's Brad Smith: How to Succeed in a Bad Economy.
Never let failure hold you back. While it’s always great to succeed, we learn much more from what doesn’t work than from what does. You cannot allow failure to keep you from bettering yourself/business; never give up because of failure. On the contrary, use your failures as a springboard to success, by embracing them and learning from them.
Larry Page -- co-founder of Google.Kimberly White | Getty Images
“You know what it’s like to wake up in the middle of the night with a vivid dream? And you know that if you don’t have a pencil and pad by the bed, it will be completely gone by the next morning. Sometimes it’s important to wake up and stop dreaming. When a really great dream shows up, grab it.” -- 20 Things I’ve Learned from Larry Page – James Altucher
This last quote is an analogy that you need to take into the real world. I’ve learned to always carry a pen and notepad around, so when an idea comes along, I write it down. No matter how far-fetched or how crazy it might seem at the time. You can sit there and just wish you could do this, or wish you could do that, and then just forget about it and go on with your life, or you can take those dreams and ideas to the next level, review them and decide which ones are worth going after. You will never make your dreams real if you just sleep on them, you need to wake up and grab that dream with both hands, don’t let it go.