20 Start-up Lessons from Successful Founders (and How to Apply Them)
Picture yourself in 20 years’ time. Your start-up is now a long-established business. There were problems along the way, but you solved them and got your business stable – flourishing, even.
One day, a wild-haired time-traveler arrives in your executive suite and offers you the chance to travel back to today. Back to a moment when your small business could go either way. What would your Future You tell your Today You?
Of course, you don’t know the answer yet. The only way to find it is to live it. Or is it?
“Nothing can really prepare you for the real-life hurdles of owning a business,” says Kimberly Eberl, founder and CEO of Motion PR. But Eberl suggests an alternative way to get the insight you need before it’s too late: “Find a solid mentor to coach you, introduce you to people, and bounce ideas off of.”
It’s good business advice. A mentor can be your Future You. The more expertise, enthusiasm, and frankness they have, the better.
But while you search for a mentor with the chemistry to be your personal guru, there are lots of off-the-shelf mentorships available from the big-name founders and entrepreneurs who have already been there. Experts like Eberl, whose success story began with a major setback: getting fired from a PR agency.
The Rocky Road to Start-Up Success
“Instead of seeing my firing as a failure, I realized it was an opportunity to strike on my own,” says Eberl. “With seven years of agency work behind me, I could clearly identify what I didn’t like about agencies… I took great measures to ensure my focus was always imaginative and client-centric.” Clients dug Eberl’s approach. Motion PR made $100k in its first year. By 2019, annual revenue was in the millions.
Absorbing advice from successful founders like Eberl will help you model your business durably for the long-haul. You need to make your model your own, even if your starting point is Steve Jobs. The Apple founder, by the way, modeled his business on – um – The Beatles? “They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts,” said Jobs. His advice? “Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”
Learning to Learn
There will never be a moment in your career when learning from the masters is inappropriate. But, while starting your start-up, it is essential to develop healthy patterns and habits. “Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally,” says B-School founder Marie Forleo. “It comes from what you do consistently.”
Learning to learn every day is the best way to stay vital. And while you’ll never run out of sources of learning, it can get pretty noisy with all the different wise old entrepreneurs out there. We’ve gathered 20 bite-size lessons from start-up founders to help you find what you need today. Explore this collection of annotated quotes so you can take the lessons learned by the most successful CEOs and make them your own, even as you develop the unique wisdom your Future You will share.
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- Paccione, C. (2019). Female Entrepreneurs Share Startup Advice For Women. motionpr.net
- Kalish, A. (2019). 7 Qualities That Make a Good Mentor (and How to Find Someone Who Has Them All). themuse.com
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- McKinnon, T. (2020). The Top 60 Jeff Bezos Quotes on Business, Innovation, Life and More. indigo9digital.com
- Salesforce. (2020). Build a Customer Service Dream Team. salesforce.com
- Farber, D. (2013). Tim Cook maintains Steve Jobs’ Beatles business model. cnet.com
- Elliott, E. (2016). The Essential Guide to Building Balanced Development Teams. medium.com
- Patel, S. (2015). 10 Essential Startup Expenses, and 10 You Should Avoid. entrepreneur.com
- Rhodes, I. (2017). Why tell a story? Allow 21 of the brightest minds in marketing to explain. ecommercegrowth.co.uk
- Patel, N. (2020). How to Create an Authentic Brand Story that Actually Improves Trust. neilpatel.com
- Morris, T., Tomasi, C. (2017). Podcasting for Dummies (3rd Edition). John Wiley & Sons
- Umoh, R. (2017). Arianna Huffington says she became successful after she started doing 4 simple things every day. cnbc.com
- Erts, N. (2016). Top 50 Team-Building Games that Your Employees Would Love to Play. cake.hr
- Leadem, R. (2017). 12 Quotes From Google’s Larry Page on Drive, Success, Creativity and Hard Work. entrepreneur.com
- Mann, A. (2017). 5 top tips for creating an effective PDP. natwestgroup.com
- Meah, A. (2018). 35 Inspirational Marie Forleo Quotes On Success. awakenthegreatnesswithin.com
- Lau, V. (2020). How I Chunk Tasks Together to Improve My Health, Time and Productivity. Medium.com
- Gregory, A. (2019). SMART Goal Setting Tips for Small Business Owners. thebalancesmb.com
- Dormon, C. (2019). Meet ClassPass Founder Payal Kadakia. whateveryourdose.com
- SmartSheet. (2020). 28 Free Time Management Templates. smartsheet.com
- TalkRoute. (2020). 12 Tips from Experts on How to Grow Your Home Business. talkroute.com
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