There isn’t some overriding business gene that all entrepreneurs possess. Yes, there seem to be specific traits that a lot of entrepreneurs share: an aversion to risk, a dogged tenacity to succeed and a charisma of sorts, but entrepreneurs will happily admit that it didn’t come easy; they worked hard for success.
There’s hard work and there’s also working smart. Often, the entrepreneurs who prevail, against all the odds, have done so by learning from their own mistakes and those of others; as well as willingly absorbing advice.
Such advice may come from a mentor, a family member an author of a book or simply even a quote, and if you ask any entrepreneur for their favorite piece of advice they will often share a piece of great wisdom.
In my bid to create an e-book that could help those wishing to start a business, I interviewed a wealth of entrepreneurs for research purposes. Each interview was tailored to the unique entrepreneur before me, but there were also a set of generic questions that I asked each of them. One such question concerned the best piece of advice they had ever received.
“What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?”
Below, I’ve collated five of my favorite responses so far. To read the full interviews and subscribe, visit the Ri Web Blog.
“To have multiple business mentors. I started off my journey with one mentor — but as I got deeper into being an entrepreneur I realized I needed to learn many other aspects of business. Management, finance and negotiations were some major gaps that I had to fill. I reached out to business people that I knew and they guided me along the way.”
“My mentor used to draw these different circles and they would represent different aspects of my life. We would look at where and how far they connected. For example, I would look at the connection between my studies and my social justice projects. Then we would work out how does one contribute to the other?
Then it’s about examining what I need to do to make sure each aspect complements another in my life. This is important, it’s important to sit down and step outside of your ideas. Look at your life from an outside perspective, think about what you need to do to achieve what you want. We live in a fast paced world that does not allow time for reflection, so take a moment and sit and think.”
“There’s a few for different situations. One of them is to do with people you work with. I’ve been in a couple of difficult situations at various startups before and I always remember some advice my Dad gave me.
He said: ‘Oli you can’t work with vampires.’ It took me ages to work out what he meant. But he was spot on, he was referring to the fact that a relationship, and a business, can’t be just ‘take, take, take’; there’s got to be some give. You don’t want to work with people like that or be involved in a business that just takes.”
“Someone once told me not to have a plan B at the beginning. I think it’s good advice. Anybody who has a plan B doesn’t believe enough in plan A. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, you’re not going to succeed. Don’t dilute plan A, put all your effort into it and you might just succeed.”
“Hire people who are smarter than you. At first I thought this was a condescending remark but in reality it is the golden rule of management. As a business leader you need to surround yourself with the very best and if you are it then your team will always be beholden to you. That only creates a stagnant company afraid to innovate, change or keep pursuing excellence. Plus what happens to a company if the leader gets hit by a bus? If the leader is the driving force and he is gone the company dies and everything you worked for is of no value.”