Have you ever wondered how some entrepreneurs and business owners seem almost superhuman, that everything they touch and do practically turns to gold?
Take Richard Branson for example. He started Virgin in 1970 and has built numerous businesses across multiple industries over the last 35 years. A company that stands for excitement, uniqueness, and more recently, making the world a better place through giving back.
While you and I may not be looking to start a massive company that generates enough revenue to support a small country, there are important lessons that we can learn from the way they do business and how they operate.
Let’s dive deep and look at four incredible entrepreneurs—who have shaped the way we do business today—and what they say that makes them successful. Sit tight. Epiphanies ahead.
1. “Chance favors the prepared mind. The more you practice, the luckier you become.” – Richard Branson
Don’t be fooled by Richard’s calm demeanor and laid back style. You better believe he had a plan and was prepared when he launched each of his businesses over the years. It may not have been 100 percent conventional, but he was always prepared in some form or fashion.
Be sure you take advantage of free resources to prepare your mind and lay out a strategy for your business. And if you want to take your preparation a step further, use a tool like LivePlan. Even if you’re a current business owner, take a step back and analyze your strategy.
Once you know you’re prepared and ready to tackle the task at hand, just get started. There is no better teacher than experience. Richard never went to business school to learn about building a business. He just got started and learned through the processes.
And it seemed to work out pretty well for him, didn’t it?
2. “Work like there is someone working twenty-four hours a day to take it all away from you.”- Mark Cuban
Powerful, right? Now I know I don’t have to tell you that hard work is a part of the game when you’re trying to build your future, but man, is it important. Not everyone will understand the fact that we have to keep our heads down and focus on building what we believe in, but that doesn’t really matter.
You’re building your business for a reason. To feed your kids. To secure your family’s financial future. To travel the world. Whatever your reason, hold it close and let that fuel you.
So when the time comes that your friends are pressuring you to take the weekend off and you know there are 174 things you have to do to keep your business running—keep your head down and do what you have to do. Because even though Mark’s quote is hypothetical, you better believe there is somebody else out there with twice the resources and twice the backing that you have trying to put you out of business.
If you’re going to build something worthwhile, you’ve got to work hard and stay focused. There are no shortcuts.
3. “The easier it is for someone to understand who you are and what you stand for, the easier it will be for that person to spread the word to others.” – Blake Mycoskie
If you aren’t aware of who Blake Mycoskie is, he’s the guy who started TOMS, the shoe company that gives a pair of shoes to a child in need for every shoe sold.
One for one. It’s as simple as that. If you were to check out the TOMS website or look through any of their social media profiles, it is very clear who they are, what they stand for, and what they do.
Has anyone ever asked you what you do or what your business does?
“Uhhhhhhh… Well, I sell…. clothes for… cold babies.”
Ouch. Let’s try this again.
If your business sells baby clothes that keep the babies three times warmer than all other baby clothing brands, be clear about it. You might say something like this:
“My company sells baby clothes that keep your child three times warmer than all other brands. This means fewer colds, better naps, and a much happier childhood!”
See how different that is? Heck, I’d buy it, and I don’t even have a baby.
Let’s look at one more example. I run an online magazine for entrepreneurs that gives back to children’s education and have had a hard time in the past explaining what I do. To keep it nice and simple, this is typically what I say:
“My company empowers the entrepreneurs who are building tomorrow’s small businesses by giving them the information and resources they need to succeed. And as part of our mission to give back and make the world a better place, we give a large portion of our revenue to support children’s education.”
Figure out early what you stand for and tell your story in a way that is easy to remember and retell. It’s ok to pivot your brand over time, but you can only do that effectively if you thoroughly understand who your customers are and what resonates with them. And that begins with a strong brand.
4. “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates
We’ve all messed up at some point in our life. I know I sure have. But before you throw in the towel and give up on your dreams altogether, look for a lesson from your moment of failure. There’s bound to be one.
For example, in a previous venture, I took on far too many responsibilities on my own and became completely overwhelmed. My health started to decline, my relationships suffered, and the company ultimately fell apart because there was too much to be done, and not enough people to do it.
The golden lesson in that situation was to swallow my pride, ask for help, and not get so overwhelmed. And to be completely honest, that lesson has saved me far too many times to count.
A failure is only a failure if you let it be. You may have made a few missteps in your past, but don’t let that define your current business. Work smart, stay humble, and learn from your mistakes. With those lessons in mind, I promise you’ll go far.
Wrapping up and moving forward
At the end of the day, as a business owner, there are a lot of factors to becoming successful. By being prepared, working hard, telling a good story, and learning from your mistakes—you’re far ahead of your peers and are on your way to living life on your terms, whatever they may be.