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Last Updated on August 6, 2019

10 Most Successful Entrepreneurs (And What to Learn from Them)

10 Most Successful Entrepreneurs (And What to Learn from Them)

Apart from making crucial decisions for their own businesses, entrepreneurs innovate and grow their ideas. Albeit there being no cookie-cutter answer that fits everyone’s experiences, taking a look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs today, you might spot some similar traits and characteristics.

Starting and nurturing a business entails a great amount of hard work and commitment. However, for aspiring entrepreneurs who are prepared to dedicate themselves to their vision, here are 10 most successful entrepreneurs you can learn from:

1. Bill Gates: Keep Learning and Exploring

    If you don’t know Bill Gates, you likely know the company he founded – Microsoft.

    Bill Gates’ story is a prime example of nurturing an idea that might seem out of this world but make sense in the future. One of the most successful entrepreneurs in history did not complete his degree at Harvard University to pursue a vision that the technology would soon become the future.

    He told a white lie to Altair, saying that he had made a computer program for them, therefore pushing himself to create a system that would change modern history.

    “The most important speed issue is convincing everyone that the company’s survival depends on moving as fast as possible.”

    Gates’ success is built on self-improvement and the seeds of an idea.

    Learn more about Bill Gates’ story here.

    2. Elon Musk: Never Stop Innovating

      Traditional thinking suggests that in order to become a successful entrepreneur, one must focus in a single field or industry.

      Elon Musk, however, breaks that rule.

      Today, the multifaceted tech entrepreneur, investor, and engineer advocates for the diversification of skills and businesses by delving into various fields of interest.

      When done right, skills in a single domain can be carried over then applied into contrasting industries to create something new the world might need. Musk owes his accomplishments to a constant thirst for knowledge.

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      Having birthed Tesla and a myriad of products across the arenas of aeronautics and software design, Musk continues to evolve as an entrepreneur and plans to innovate for the long haul.

      Learn more about Elon Musk’s story here.

      3. Richard Branson: Develop People First

        British entrepreneur Richard Branson founded Virgin Records in the early 1970s. Virgin Records has since grown into the Virgin Group, today responsible for over 400 companies.

        The billionaire is strongly particular about working with a team that shares his core values and aspirations.

        Branson believes that managing a business can become taxing, thus he acknowledges his employees for putting in the effort that they have.

        A good leader knows how to raise morale for positive productivity. Utilising emotional intelligence and compassion is a game changer in seeing results within a team.

        Branson supports the idea of nurturing a positive work environment, with the belief that credentials must go hand-in-hand with an enthusiasm for work.

        Learn more about Richard Branson’s story here.

        4. Jeff Bezos: A Relentless Focus on Customer Satisfaction

          Having founded Amazon, Jeff Bezos is known to be one of America’s most successful entrepreneurs. The e-commerce pioneer fixates himself on angry customers with the belief that a business’s loopholes are found in the experiences of unsatisfied customers.

          For the 8th year in a row, customers have ranked Amazon as the number one in customer service (according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index).

          While numerous companies ignore unhappy customers, Bezos found success in learning from reviews and surveys. By focusing on customer service, Amazon shows they care, both for their customers and for rising above their competitors.

          While praise and recognition are signs that a business is accelerating, criticism is an opportunity to improve a product or a service.

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          Learn more about Jeff Bezos’ story here.

          5. Mark Zuckerberg: Start Small, Think Big

            Valued at over 55 billion dollars today, Mark Zuckerberg built the first version of what would become a social networking giant in his Harvard University dorm room. As one of the world’s youngest entrepreneurs, Zuckerberg undoubtedly took countless calculated risks to get his brilliant idea to its current status with 2.38 billion active monthly users.

            “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.”

            He’s always daring to explore with a fearless mindset.

            The young tech entrepreneur never shied away from innovating outside of the box. Soon after Facebook became a hit to users and advertisers, big corporations took interest in buying Facebook from Zuckerberg.

            However, he took the risk and decided to stay with his creation. Turning down billions of dollars offered by Yahoo CEO, Terry Semel, he envisioned turning his brainchild into something much bigger than what it already was then.

            Learn more about Mark Zuckerberg’s story here.

            6. Steve Jobs: Live Your Own Dreams

              Steve Jobs lived a rocky path all his life and an aspect of which is a tumultuous career.

              The founder of Apple endorsed his beliefs on the temporality of life and limitations of time. He preached about the importance of working on the very legacies people wish to leave behind, an achievement he’s undoubtedly etched into the the archives of human history.

              Never one to hide under someone’s shadow, Jobs did not live by anybody else’s principles so he formed his own. He tirelessly dedicated himself to building a unique brand of products that became the benchmark for contemporary technology.

              After his highs and lows through his brief battle with cancer, Jobs concludes with yet another lesson to takeaway from his remarkable life.

              “No matter how much money you have, even the richest man can’t buy time.”

              Learn more about Steve Jobs’ story here.

              7. Warren Buffett: Balance is Essential to Success

                Despite being the third wealthiest person in the world, Warrant Buffett sported a frugal lifestyle for most of his life.

                After buying a house in Omaha, Nebraska for just above 31,000 dollars, he has lived there since 1958. As a leading investor and a founder at Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett believes in setting aside an amount to save and spend only on necessities.

                With a long term goal as a top priority in mind always, treating oneself can be sustainable once in a while. He advices to save money by deciding first and foremost what aspects to scrimp on and what aspects to splurge on to ensure a happy and balanced lifestyle.

                Learn more about Warren Buffett’s story here.

                8. Jack Ma: Never Give up

                  On every journey to success, everybody stumbles and arrives at roadblocks. Some more than most, like Jack Ma, who survived countless rejections and failures only to get back up and brave every storm.

                  Ma is the founder of multinational technology conglomerate Alibaba Group. Despite being rejected to Harvard after every one of his 10 applications, Ma was never defeated.

                  His grit and tenacity is a fine testament to the fact that grades do not determine a future. While qualifications on paper are important, the development of skills and an attitude is just as helpful in making a recipe for success.

                  Despite finding himself in the verge of bankruptcy in the 1990s, Jack Ma possessed the resilience to put one foot in front of the other until he finally made it. He says:

                  “It’s important to have patience.”

                  Learn more about Jack Ma’s story here.

                  9. Melanie Perkins: Know Your Worth and Keep Trying

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                    Melanie Perkins founded Canva, a Sydney-based business valued at $1Billion having successfully raised a number of rounds of successful funding and boasting more than 10 Million users in 179 countries.[1]

                    She told BBC that one of the biggest challenges she faced getting into the business was talking about her company’s accomplishments when she first got to Silicon Valley. She attributed this difficulty to a cultural difference where Australians tend to ‘talk down’ their achievements and this would slow down her fundraising progress for a few years.

                    Despite hundreds of rejections, Melanie emerged three years later with a much clearer strategy and stronger investor pitch that prompted a series of fundraising rounds netting the company $82Million of funding in total.[2]

                    Learn more about Melanie Perkins’ story here.

                    10. Tan Min Liang: Passion Can Pay Off

                      Tan Min Liang is the founder of the leading high-performance gaming hardware, Razer. Always on the look out for new opportunities to connect and scale his business, Tan has been bold in making many of his life’s decisions.

                      Having deviated from a traditional path set by a family that consists of doctors and lawyers, Tan was to find his life’s work and passion while gaming with his older brother.

                      The idea was simple: there were so many games out there to play, however, there were hardly any gaming equipment to match this.

                      So he dropped out of law and began going a different direction, into creating solutions in the gaming industry. At the start of 2019, Tan wrote to tech luminary Elon Musk to which Musk’s reply suggested of a joint venture between two of the most successful entrepreneurs today.

                      Learn more about Tan Min Liang’s story here.

                      Final Thoughts

                      In today’s cutthroat world, the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur is a long and arduous process trailed with ups and downs. A valuable lesson that a good hand of entrepreneurs would love to convey to aspiring entrepreneurs is to keep the spirit of innovation and to explore uncharted waters.

                      Learning from experience and failure is one direction to a desired end goal. Exhibiting the same dedication and grit so many entrepreneurs have through their unexpected careers – today’s budding visionaries ought to hang on their dreams and leave room for improvement along the way.

                      More Articles About Entrepreneurship

                      Featured photo credit: Patrick Tomasso via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      More by this author

                      Eugene Cheng

                      Eugene is Lifehack's Entrepreneurship Expert. He is the co-founder and creative lead of HighSpark, offering presentation training for companies.

                      How to Learn Business as an Aspiring Entrepreneur 10 Most Successful Entrepreneurs (And What to Learn from Them) Why Leadership and Management Are Two Sides of a Coin 12 Foolproof Tips for Entrepreneurs to Be Successful in a New Venture How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur (15 Powerful Actions to Take Today)

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                      1 Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead 2 How to Change Careers When It Seems Too Late 3 7 Steps to Achieve Career Success on Your Own Terms 4 The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever) 5 How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

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                      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                      Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

                      Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

                      Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

                      Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

                      Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

                      Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

                      Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

                      1. Make Time for You

                      If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

                      Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

                      Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

                      Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

                      For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

                      By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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                      2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

                      Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

                      Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

                      When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

                      It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

                      Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

                      3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

                      According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

                      For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

                      If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

                      4. Work on Your Personal Brand

                      Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

                      Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

                      What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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                      Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

                      Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

                      5. Be Accountable

                      Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

                      For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

                      When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

                      6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

                      All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

                      Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

                      Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

                      It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

                      7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

                      Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

                      It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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                      This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

                      If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

                      To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

                      For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

                      You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

                      8. Learn to Embrace Failure

                      Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

                      The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

                      In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

                      We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

                      However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

                      Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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                      “I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

                      9. Build Your Resilience

                      Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

                      Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

                      Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

                      In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

                      Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

                      10. Ask for Help

                      It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

                      No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

                      My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

                      1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
                      2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
                      3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

                      Final Thoughts

                      You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

                      Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

                      More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

                      Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

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