9 Incredible Business Lessons from Bill Gates

Microsoft headquarters in Romania.

There’s probably not a single person alive who isn’t at least aware of Bill Gates. The man has given his life to personal computers and created innovations in information technology that will last generations...perhaps centuries.

That being said, you’re here to feed your brain some decent lessons on success from a proven real deal. So let’s dive right in!

Lesson 1: To win big, sometimes you have to take big risks.

Bill Gates was a student at Harvard University when he decided to drop out and join his partner, Paul Allen, in Boston. He could have graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in the world, but he decided to leave everything behind and start a new chapter in his life.

The risk paid off substantially. How much would that degree have been valued vs. Microsoft?

If you want to succeed in business, you have to take risks. Read the success stories of other renowned self-made entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and you’ll see they all took incredible risks.

As long as the numbers make sense! Even if they’re small numbers. None of these brilliant men and women make moves for sour numbers, unless they can be fixed through a little innovation.

Lesson 2: Patience is a key element of success.

It takes time to build your dream business and even longer to achieve “comfortable” levels of success. Nothing comes easy, but if you’re patient and build a solid foundation you’ll be much more likely to reach the stars.

It’s important to remember Bill Gates experienced pitfalls during the start of his career. He and Paul Allen were struggling to keep the momentum going and in 1977 they were left with nothing but a legal battle to retain the rights of the software they developed for Altair, a mini-computer kit owned by MITS.

Gates didn’t lose hope and continued to pursue what he loved. Just imagine if he wasn’t patient enough, we might not be able to use Microsoft Word today...for starters.

Lesson 3: We all need people who give feedback.

“Your unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Bill is known as a ruthless competitor and a tactful leader.

He’ll challenge an employee after a presentation as a way of testing whether they’re totally convinced of their own idea. See, Bill believes learning is easier if someone listens and shares their insights.

Basically, feedback is a catalyst for improvement, which is good because being an entrepreneur is dynamic and the only thing you can do to keep up is to consistently improve. In order to improve you need feedback, so always be thinking of ways to get it, to listen very carefully, and adapt.

Lesson 4: I don’t know has become I don’t know yet.

Can you count how many times you’ve used the phrase, “I don’t know” in regards to your business?

When Gates and Allen were starting out, they heard of an Altair 8800 mini-computer kit and both felt a surge of excitement to create basic software to run Altair. They called up the company that owns Altair, Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), and asked if they needed someone to develop software for them.

Luckily, MITS owner Ed Roberts said yes.

Sounds like a perfect little story right? But Gates and Allen didn’t have anything, they were totally faking it! Over the following months, they scrambled to create the software and were unexpectedly successful.

To succeed in business, you have to possess a “can-do” attitude. There’s nothing in this world that you can’t learn as long as you put in the time and effort.

Lesson 5: The world expects you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Society doesn’t care about your feelings. Achievement and success is expected of you before you’re properly acknowledged, and that’s it. No shortcuts. You have no right to gloat if you’re not able to contribute to the world.

A harsh truth. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you’ll realize what you need to do to succeed and build something that matters.

Lesson 6: Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world.

It’s difficult to not compare yourself to others. Especially if you’re just starting out and they’re on top.

Always remember that every entrepreneur has a different backstory. You have no idea how much work they’ve put in, how the experience changed them, or what kinds of sacrifices they made to reach success.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus your energy instead into carving your own path. Write your own story.

Lesson 7: Unless you're running scared all the time, you're gone.

Even when Microsoft became well-established and the company was estimated to be worth $101 billion, Bill Gates never felt secure. He always made sure to look over his shoulder and keep a keen eye on rival companies.

It’s called being highly-competitive and driven.

Business is so unpredictable. One second your company’s doing great, the next minute problems arise and you hit rock bottom. Complacency is the enemy folks.

However, if you stay guarded even when you’re on the upswing, you’ll be able to handle hurdles of any kind.

Lesson 8: Change the world or go home.

Starting a business isn’t about money. To Gates and those of his caliber, it’s about creating a legacy that people will never forget. If you read his autobiography, there’s no real mention of money ANYWHERE.

Bill Gates wasn’t even an entrepreneur by heart, he was just an ordinary guy with extraordinary intelligence and an extreme passion to create computer applications. If you aren’t finished chasing money, don’t try to do something profound yet.

Wrapping up

Thanks so much for reading! Hopefully you found some value in there, and some inspiration. Just don’t forget that Bill’s human like you.

In reality, nothing is stopping you from greatness if that’s indeed what you want to experience in life. Success is only a choice/commitment away.