Starting your own business can be a frightening affair. Going against the grain, delving into the unknown or taking the road less traveled, whatever you want to call it, entrepreneurship is downright scary. It’s also fraught with risk. One wrong move and you could lose the shirt off your back. Yes, entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.
Going down the path to business ownership doesn’t have to be the daunting affair it’s made out to be, especially if you take advice from others who have gone before you. What follows are ten pieces of advice from today’s hottest self-made men and women. Take their advice to heart and you just may reach your goals unscathed.
1. Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Advertising guru Sara Rotman will tell you that the best piece of advice she ever received came from her accountant. There she was, discussing the launch of her company (ad agency MODCo) and how much money she would need to borrow to start her venture when her accountant gave her this wise nugget that has always stuck with her: “Only have enough cash on hand to barely survive; never so much that you are comfortable. It’s important to stay scared in the beginning.”
That’s great advice. If you have too much in the bank, you might not call a client that day because you won’t feel that you HAVE to. You won’t market your business because you’ll have enough capital on hand to put things off. Just as the Dos XX Most Interesting Man in the World continually tells us to stay thirsty, Sarah Rotman urges us to stay hungry. It’s the only way to remain competitive, especially when you are just starting out.
2. Get Rid of the Losers
You may have heard of Tim Ferriss from his hit books The Four Hour Workweek and the Four Hour Body. He says the best advice he ever received was from his high school wrestling coach. No, it wasn’t to change your jock strap regularly. Instead, his coach told him that: “You’re the average of the five people you associate with the most.”
Take a look at your five closest buddies, or whoever you happen to hang around with. If they don’t have their stuff together, you might need a new circle of friends. Seek out people who are doing better than you financially and professionally. Buy them lunch, take them out for coffee and pick their brain. You might find yourself excelling by association alone.
3. Narrow Your Subject Down To Its Simplicity
Acre Farms CEO Dan Horan says that whatever subject matter you’re working with, drill it down to the details. Most of all, make it simple enough for anyone to understand.
Horan told Business Insider, “It’s got to be simple, and sometimes to make something simple you have to really, really study everything about it. It might turn out to be complex, but you have to present it simply, particularly when it comes to people: when people buy something, they don’t want a lecture."
In other words, if a four year old can understand your message, you’re probably doing ok.
4. Do What Your Heart Tells You
Dennis Crowley, CEO of Foursquare received his winning advice from his mother. Along with always changing his underwear and keeping his bedroom clean, Crowley was told to follow his heart.
That advice has led to Crowley pursuing passions that he thought were cool and ones that others would want to tell their friends about. He must be doing something right. He recently turned down a $125 million acquisition and was named one of the 40 under 40 by several publications.
So if you have a passion project that you want to pursue, go with what your heart tells you to do. Doing so might just prove to be the most profitable move you can make.
5. Forget What Other People Think About You
Heidi Roizen is an entrepreneur, executive and investor and she has a crucial lesson for all up and coming business owners to help them become more successful. She calls it her 20-40-60 Rule. This is how she puts it, “At 20, you’re constantly worrying about what other people think of you. At 40 you wake up and say, ‘I’m not going to give a damn what other people think anymore.’ And at 60 you realize no one is thinking about you at all.”
The truth is: “Nobody is thinking about you from the very beginning. Your boss isn’t thinking about you. Your peers aren’t thinking about you. You need to think about you.”
In other words, forget the naysayers and become your own advocate. When you realize that no one is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about yourself, you’ll save yourself a lot of mental energy that can be better spent focusing on your business, and your end goals.
6. Get Started Right Now
John Lee Dumas, founder and host of business podcast EntrepreneurOnFire, says that the biggest impediment holding new business owners back is the hesitation to begin. His advice is to find out what other people want and deliver it. But, you’re never going to know what people want until you put something out there – and fail. Fail fast, he says, fail forward, and get valuable feedback from your audience. That’s what will cause you to improve, and you’ll eventually achieve your true greatness.
7. Don’t Wait Until You’re Ready
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, offers similar advice. She says, “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this’, and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”
So even if you haven’t done all your research, even if you’re a little green, and even if you’re scared to pieces of what your audience will think of you, take a page from Nike’s playbook and Just Do It.
8. Be Prepared to Work Hard
Despite what some might tell you, owning and operating your own business is extremely hard work, and you should be prepared to do this work from the very beginning. This is the advice Mark Cuban has for you. Cuban is a self-made billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He says: “Do the work. Out-work. Out-think. Out-sell your expectations. There are no shortcuts.”
Do you need to work 21 hour days to become the best you can be? Not necessarily. There is such a thing as working smarter, not harder. As long as you are aware that there are no shortcuts as Cuban says, you’ll do just fine.
9. Be a Risk Taker
Everyone who uses Facebook knows Mark Zuckerberg – the wunderkind who started the social media platform from his dorm room. His advice is to be a risk taker. He writes, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk...In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
He definitely knows about taking risks. He singlehandedly took on MySpace, a platform that was dominating the social stratosphere and toppled it. He took risks and prospered immensely. So be a risk taker and you never know, you just might reach your full potential.
10. Look Forward to Failure
When you think of success, the name Bill Gates might come to mind. The guy who delivered Microsoft and the Windows operating system to the world says that, while you should aim for success, you shouldn’t expect to get there anytime soon. And in fact, achieving success early on may be your downfall. Say what? It’s true. He writes, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” In other words, welcome failure and (well-deserved) success will soon be yours.
See Also: 5 Best Books for Entrepreneurs 2015 So how can we boil all of this down into a simple phrase that’s easy to remember? Be a risk taker, be prepared to work hard (and fail), forget about what other people think about you, and get started right now. That’s great advice from today’s most successful businesspeople to you. Take these lessons and see what you’re made of. Your future company may just change the world as we know it. What advice has resonated the most with you? Let’s compare notes in the comments section below.