5 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Know: Tips From Real Businesspeople

Unless you’re keeping news of your pending launch tightly under wraps, you’ve probably been inundated by well-wishes and offers of assistance. Whether you know it or not, you’ve got a lot of people rooting for you.

All this support can be overwhelming, even confusing. How do you sort well-meaning but misguided advice from truly valuable nuggets of wisdom?

Startup mentoring

Turning to successful businesspeople could offer some clarity. You might not be able to get Bill Gates on the phone, but you can certainly benefit from the experience he’s gained over a lifetime of fantastic success. Ditto for any number of other high-profile entrepreneurs.

These five bits of advice have all served successful businesspeople well. Now it’s time for you to put them to good use.

1. It’s OK To Fail

Not to start off on a down note, but this is an important point to underscore from the get-go: It’s OK to fail.

According to Life is Good founder John Jacobs, failure isn’t an end. It’s a stepping stone to something else—hopefully, success.

“It’s not failure,” he says in an interview with CNBC. “You either succeed or learn.”

Think about that for a moment: When you try something, you either succeed, or you learn something, so that you’ll be more likely to succeed the next time around.

2. It’s Never Too Early To Start

Don’t feel like you’re old or wise enough to start your own business? It’s true that you could always have more wisdom or experience—but, at some point, you just have to go for it.

“I started my first business while enrolled full-time in college,” says Miami entrepreneur George Otte, whose Otte Polo Group owns several successful companies. “I’ve been in business for myself almost my entire adult life, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.”

Otte credits his early perseverance with his eventual success. And he’s not alone. Bill Gates famously started Microsoft shortly after dropping out of college. Ditto Michael Dell and his namesake computer company, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, Evan Spiegel and Snapchat.

3. Your Network Is Your Net Worth

You’ve probably heard this saying before. There’s a reason it’s practically a mantra for many business owners: It’s the truth.

“It is very important to keep meeting new people,” writes entrepreneurship guru Mayank Pratap. “You never know who might trigger off the next big idea in your mind.”

Cultivating your network is about more than generating ideas. Every person you meet is a potential investor, customer, brand advocate, proverbial “friend in high places”—the list goes on. Never pass up an opportunity to network, even when you’re sure there’s nothing to be gained from the exercise.

4. Time Management Is a Myth

This is a provocative statement, to be sure. It’s courtesy of Pratap, the same guru who reminds us that our network is our net worth. Does he have a point?

Actually, yes—in the most basic sense. “All of us have the same 24 hours to make a difference,” he writes. “We cannot make more hours to fit in everything we want do.”

Since you can’t manufacture more time, you need to make the most of the time you have. For ideas, check out this primer from Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center.

5. Do What You Believe In

Steve Jobs was a famously mercurial, hard-driving boss, but he never wavered in his belief that true success is measured in how well we follow our passions. He’s frequently quoted as saying, “If you want to be successful in life, do what you truly believe in.”

These are words to live by, even for those not at the helm of a multibillion-dollar tech company.

Never Stop Learning

Here’s an honorary sixth tip for budding entrepreneurs: Never stop learning, ever. There’s always a new challenge to overcome, a new solution to conceive. Stick with it long enough and you might just find yourself quoted in an article like this.

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