Startup Lessons to Learn From Oprah Winfrey

Woman writing down lessons that she has learned.

Beyond the quotes we hear repeated from famous entrepreneurs like Oprah Winfrey about entrepreneurship and success, there are many lessons to be learned from their stories managing and growing wildly successful companies. 

These are the top lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Oprah Winfrey that apply to entrepreneurship and beyond.

Entrepreneurship Lessons From Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey’s path to fame and success has been as unique as her contribution to society. From traumatic experiences in her younger life to learning to practice gratitude later on, this media entrepreneur’s story has much to teach entrepreneurs about leading with integrity and creating a pathway to success along the way.

1. Practice Gratitude

Oprah Winfrey has worked hard to reach the level of success she has. However, that doesn’t stop her from practicing gratitude as part of her daily routine. According to, Winfrey kept a daily gratitude journal for over a decade, detailing five things she was grateful for every day. When the entrepreneur recovered a journal from 1996 after falling out of the practice for a time, she recognized a noticeable difference between the times she prioritized gratitude and times she did not due to an exceptionally busy schedule. 

“I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots,” Winfrey says.

2. Start the Day Off Right

As an entrepreneur, establishing a morning routine is crucial to a strong foundation for the day. Oprah Winfrey has shared on her website her belief in breakfast as “a simple way to power up” for the day with fruits and multi-grain bread as her ingredients of choice, comparing the body to an engine that needs fuel in order to operate. 

She isn’t alone in this belief; many entrepreneurs swear by a balanced breakfast to get their day started on the right foot. In fact, a nutritious breakfast can help kick your metabolism into gear, providing you with energy to meet the day head-on.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

Oprah’s career hasn’t been a linear path. The media entrepreneur’s trajectory in show business began by winning the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant, which presented the opportunity of an on-air job at a radio station in Nashville, which would parlay into a job as a local television reporter and anchor. 

However, it was Winfrey’s choice to leave her full scholarship to Tennessee State University and pursue this field that would result in her first talk show, People Are Talking, and ultimately, The Oprah Winfrey Show.

4. Give Back When You Can

In addition to being a wildly successful entrepreneur, Winfrey has also solidified herself as one of the most generous philanthropists in the world. Her foundation, the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation (OWCF), has donated millions of dollars to a variety of causes across the globe, including “the education and empowerment of women, children, and families in the United States and around the world.”

By giving back to others at such a large scale, Oprah has solidified her brand as one that aligns with her values.

5. Lead With Intention

While the Oprah brand has become synonymous with goodwill, there was a time when The Oprah Winfrey Show participated in a type of journalism that was less than positive; they featured a woman learning her husband was unfaithful live, on-air. 

According to an article Winfrey wrote for “O, The Oprah Magazine,” this was a moment of change that led the entrepreneur to lead with intention, “Once the light bulb came on for me that day, my calling became to create shows that encourage and inspire as much as they entertain — television that leaves guests with their dignity and helps us all see our lives in a different way.”