7 lessons from the most successful entrepreneurs
Every successful entrepreneur has a story or experience that taught them a valuable lesson, which they love to pass on to aspiring business owners. They say learning from mistakes is key to getting ahead, but there’s no reason those mistakes have to be yours. So why not learn from these stories and insights from some of the most successful entrepreneurs out there:
1. Richard Branson: Create something of value
Branson created Virgin Atlantic as a response to being consistently unhappy with the service he was getting when travelling with British Airways. For this business and the many, many more he has launched since, Branson swears by the idea that you should only start a business if you’re creating something that will be of value to your customers.
You should also make sure you have the passion to build your business into something successful, whatever that means for you. Because of Branson’s vision and dedication, Virgin Airlines is now a household name in international travel.
When finding a business idea that offers value, you should pay attention to what has or hasn’t been done before you. If the business idea exists already, it’s more likely to succeed for you. But do make sure you don’t end up with an identical business plan to that of a successful competitor. If you do, you’re setting yourself up to fail because you have no USP (unique selling point) which will make you stand apart.
If a business idea doesn’t already exist, there are three main things to consider:
- Has it been done before but there was no profit in it to keep the business going?
- Has it simply not been thought of before?
- Has it been tried but there isn’t a market for it?
2. Mark Zuckerberg: More than money
Most entrepreneurs care about the money they make, or will make, from a business. Even if it’s not the whole reason they’re doing it, it’s still an important factor.
However, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg showed just how important it can be to prioritise your vision for the company over money. In its first year of business Facebook only just broke even, and despite this, Zuckerberg turned down a billion-dollar offer from the CEO of Yahoo to buy it. Sure, if he was in it for the money he would have been happy with that, and moved on to his next venture, but to grow Facebook into the giant it is today took his resilience and belief, rather than simply growing it to make lots of money.
On the point of money, it’s worth noting that not splashing out can have a real impact. Even those who have ‘made it’ and have a successful business earning them a healthy income should make sure enough is put back into the business to grow it and secure it’s future. It’s easy to reach a point where you feel that you are being paid back for all your hard work, and that it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
However, there are plenty of examples of business owners who spend at a high rate, then realise they don’t have enough money to bail the company out when it hits some hard times.
3. Elon Musk: Persevere and learn from mistakes
A really key part of being a successful entrepreneur is the ability to deal with failure. Getting up after you’ve been knocked down, developing, and trying again features heavily in many famous businesspeoples’ stories.
Elon Musk is a great example of this as CEO of SpaceX, because he has a whole decade of documented mistakes, blowing up rocket after rocket, before finally being successful his quest to launch. He is known for constantly questioning himself, pushing his boundaries and looking for ways to better everything SpaceX does.
4. Larry Page: Believe in yourself and your product
Is there a super successful entrepreneur out there who isn’t really sure that their product is good? Or that doesn’t believe in themselves? If you don’t believe in your idea, who will?
Larry Page being a prime example, because if he didn’t believe in Google when it was nothing more than a dream – how different would the world be today?
5. Jeff Bezos: The customer is what matters
If you provide outstanding customer service alongside a product or service that is exceptionally useful to your customers, chances are your business will become successful and you’ll outsmart your competitors. Especially with so much choice around today, the average consumer expect much more from a business. If you reach these standards, or even exceed them, you’ll win that customers loyalty and often their referrals.
Amazon CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos is a strong believer of the crucial nature of customer service and constantly works to keep his customers happy. He has a 24-hour team for when any problem arises with one of Amazon’s services to fix the problem as quickly as possible. He also says ‘Entrepreneurs should obsess over their customers instead of obsessing over their competitors. Additionally, the needs of your customers should be more important than your own needs.’
6. Walt Disney: Constantly improve
Don’t settle back once you seem to have hit some success in business. For a start, this success probably won’t last when you keep doing the same things – the world is evolving and your business needs to move along with it or be left behind.
Also, if you want to continually grow your business, you regularly need to take a step back and evaluate what you’ve done, how effective the results were, and make your plan for your next move.
We look to Walt Disney for this lesson, because after his success with the first ever animated movies Disney could easily and understandably have enjoyed his achievement and kept it at that. However, he kept pushing his boundaries and designed merchandise for the films which still are a huge source of profits for the company. He also created the amusement park that is still a giant today and would personally test all the rides and evaluate them.
Similarly though, don’t feel that you need to achieve your overall vision immediately. It’s much more effective to have a simpler version of your product that is effective first, then evolve into your full vision in time. If Walt Disney had tried to create merch or a theme park before perfecting the animations, it wouldn’t have worked.
7. Bill gates: Make calculated decisions
Being able to make objective business decisions without too much influence by your emotions can be key in business success. There’s plenty at stake, and it’s important to weigh up the variables and be sure you’re making the right choice.
There’s a famous example from Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft, who made a claim that he had written a programming language for the MITS Altair 8000. He hadn’t. However, he believed he could do it in the time frame and took the calculated decision to make that claim. He then worked with his childhood friend to create it, which paved the way to his founding of Microsoft.
There are many useful business tips you can learn from entrepreneurs that have achieved success, and you now know seven of the most important ones. You’re reading this blog which shows you’re dedicated to improving, so keep that momentum going and you’ll be fine.
If you’re in the North of England, you’re in luck too! The biggest business event on the Northern calendar is taking place in March at Manchester Central on 17th & 18th. It’s called the Northern Business Expo and has inspiring keynotes, key skills workshops, huge networking sessions, over 100 exhibitors and even a chance to win £5000 for your business! All free to attend, you just need to get your free ticket online now!