21 Pieces of Advice from All-Time Great Entrepreneurs

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Jay Fuchs
Jay Fuchs


Entrepreneurship might seem like the business equivalent of trying to navigate uncharted waters — and in some respects, that's accurate. Entrepreneurs are assuming tremendous risk, putting a lot of faith in themselves, and paving a lane within whatever industry they're trying to crack.

They're trailblazers in their own right, but obvious as this might sound, they're not the first ones to ever blaze trails. Entrepreneurs aren't alone in their ambition. No, they're in excellent company — and those who came before them have plenty of sage wisdom to offer any aspiring business pioneers.

To help new entrepreneurs find their footing, we've compiled some of that advice here.

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Advice from Entrepreneurs

1."All business is personal… Make your friends before you need them." — Robert L. Johnson, Co-Founder, BET
entrepreneur advice Robert Johnson

Image Source: Biography.com

2. "The first thing that you can do with social media is finding out and understand why people like or dislike … You actually get to see the reality of what people think about you." — Daymond John, Founder, FUBU

3. "We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes — understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success." — Ariana Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post

4. "If you have a dream and you have a job. That’s amazing! You can learn how to navigate both. Your employer, or as I like to call it your ‘investor’, gives you the money to invest in your dream, and pay your bills while you chase your dreams." — Lisa Nichols, Founder, Motivating the Masses

5. "Discipline is not a dirty word. There is far more freedom and opportunity for creativity and success in enjoying discipline. Years ago, someone I very much respect told me the reason they were successful is that they embraced doing what other people resent or are reluctant to do." — Janice Bryant Howroyd, Founder, The ActOne Group

entrepreneur advice Janice Bryant Howroyd

Image Source: NBC News

6. "To have a successful career, you have to approach it as an entrepreneur, even if you are working for someone else. Your career is your own private business. You have to market yourself and your abilities and knowledge just as you would a product or service." — Earl G. Graves Sr., Founder, Black Enterprise Magazine

7. "Not to let anyone convince you that your dream, your vision to be an entrepreneur is something that you shouldn't do. What often happens is that people who are well-meaning, who really care for us are afraid for us and talk us out of it." — Cathy Hughes, Founder, Radio One

8. "Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science. It’s about trading — buying and selling." — Anita Roddick, Founder, The Body Shop

entrepreneur advice Anita Roddick

Image Source: Wikipedia

9. "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." — Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group

10. "People want to do business with someone they like. If people like you, they're going to want to do business with you." — Barbara Corcoran, Founder, The Corcoran Group

11. "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." — Marissa Mayer, Founder, Sunshine Contact

entrepreneur advice Marissa Mayer

Image Source: Stanford Law

12. "You should learn from your competitor, but never copy. Copy and you die." – Jack Ma, Founder, Alibaba

13. "Remember, the universal language is not texted, emailed, or spoken. It is felt." — Angela Ahrendts, Senior VP, Apple

14. "Life-fulfilling work is never about the money — when you feel true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it." — Eileen Fisher, Founder, Eileen Fisher, Inc.

entrepreneur advice Eileen Fisher

Image Source: Wall Street Journal

15. "The most surprising, and rewarding, part of my journey as a CEO was finding out how easy it is to get legendary people to help you. All you have to do is ask." — Phil Libin, Former CEO, Evernote

16. "It's a romantic notion that you're going to have one brilliant idea and then everything is going to be great... but the execution and delivery are what's key." — Sergey Brin, Co-Founder, Google

17. "It’s about first having impact and executing something well before you move on to the next thing. If you’re too focused, you’ll stop innovating. But if you’re too innovative, you’ll lose your focus and won’t get anything done." — Tan Hooi Ling, Co-Founder, Grab

18. "Seeking an acquisition from the start is more than just bad advice for an entrepreneur. For the entrepreneur, it leads to short term tactical decisions rather than company-building decisions and, in my view, often reduces the probability of success." — Vinod Kholsa, Co-Founder, Sun Microsystems

Vinod Kholsa

Image Source: The Immigrant Learning System

19. "Find a way to say 'yes' to things. Say 'yes' to invitations to a new country, say 'yes' to meet new friends, say 'yes' to learn something new ... Even if it's a bit edgy — a bit out of your comfort zone — saying 'yes' means that you will do something new, meet someone new, and make a difference. 'Yes' lets you stand out in a crowd, be the optimist, see the glass full, be the one everyone comes to. 'Yes' is what keeps us all young.” — Eric Schmidt, Former CEO, Google

20. "Balance is a long-term game. It's all work, all the time. It feels exciting. It's more intense than ever. I don't know how people do it without a partner." — Katia Beauchamp, Co-Founder, Birchbox

21. "There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it. If I have accomplished anything in life, it is because I have been willing to work hard." — Madam C. J. Walker, Founder, Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company, First American Female Self-Made Millionaire

entrepreneur advice Mdam C.J. Walker

Image Source: National Park Service

Entrepreneurs can provide a wealth of opportunity for themselves, their employees, and the communities around them. But that potential for opportunity is undermined by a lack of, well, opportunity.

Inequity in access to economic resources, disproportionate distribution of wealth, and discrepancies in access to other environmental factors restrict the potential for entrepreneurship in marginalized populations, undermining innovation everywhere. 

If you're interested in learning more about the state of and tremendous potential in entrepreneurial diversity, check out this post here.

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