10 Lessons From Successful Entrepreneurs

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This is a gust post by Felix Tarcomnicu. 

We’ve all heard about them and seen their life stories dramatized in the movies and television specials. Everyone wants to know the secrets to their success, but the truth is there are no secrets. These extraordinary people got to where they are simply because they viewed the journey to entrepreneurial success differently from those who failed.

Here are 10 lessons you can learn from the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.

1. Follow the principle of PROTI

Do you ever wonder why a billionaire like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wears the same getup every day; hoodie, grey t-shirt, jeans and sneakers? It’s for the same reason that another billionaire visionary, the late Steve Jobs, always wore a black turtleneck and jeans to work every day.

They don’t want to waste time deciding on matters that won’t translate to productivity. In business, you have to prioritize your day according to which item results in greater return for your invested time. This is otherwise referred to as PROTI: Potential Return on Time Invested. Time is a valuable commodity which is fixed; you cannot have more than 24 hours each day. Therefore, you should allocate the majority of your time to manage the items that result in greater gains or accomplishments for your business.

2. Rejections are part of the trade

As a single mother, J.K. Rowling pursued her dreams of becoming a writer despite being rejected by 12 publishers. Howard Schultz was rejected by 217 banks before finally receiving funding for his coffee franchise. Roy Disney filed for bankruptcy after being rejected by various financiers who felt his business ideas “lacked originality”.

Thanks to their persistence, determination and will to succeed, people can now enjoy a cup of cappuccino at their local Starbucks while reading the Harry Potter series and listening to “Hakuna Matata” from Disney’s The Lion King.

Anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur and believes every idea or proposal will be accepted is delusional. Rejection is a harsh reality that happens more often than acceptance in entrepreneurship. If you are not prepared to deal with rejection, then it would be best to keep your 9-to-5 job.

3. Design with the customer in mind

During her time selling fax machines in hot and humid Florida, Sara Blakely realized the hosiery sold in retailers was not comfortable or suitable for every day conditions. She decided to design a product that addressed the daily issues confounding women: comfort, fit, functionality, and it had to be figure-flattering.

The end-product became Spanx, now a billion dollar company that thrust Blakely as one of the youngest billionaires and a role model for enterprising women.

It is not enough that you have a good idea. You have to make sure there is a market for it and that the end-users will find value in purchasing the product.

4. Do not be stubborn

The price of failure is the tuition fee you pay in order to succeed as an entrepreneur. Failure is reality in business because market conditions change. There is no software program or proven system that prevents failure. The moment you decide to become an entrepreneur, you will experience failure.

With that in mind, when all signs point to certain failure, do not be stubborn with your business plan. Switch gears and change your approach just like Payal Kadakia, whose first venture, Classivity, appeared to be going nowhere. She evaluated the status of the company, assessed the company’s positions and switched to a new model under the brand ClassPass. The company has enjoyed tremendous growth in the last two years.

5. Be accessible

Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson is regularly seen sharing meals with his people. He is known to fly members of his staff to his private island for team-building sessions. Tony Fernandes, CEO of Air Asia, makes it a point to know his people by name.

These billionaires understand that the success of any organization lies in its people. A job title is meaningless unless people respect you, and respect is a value that must be earned. Branson and Fernandes want to make sure they are accessible to their people because it improves communication, builds strong relationships and encourages them to work harder.

6. Respect your company culture

Zappos Founder Tony Hsieh once said that he does not hire people for Zappos based on their resume, body of work, recommendations or referrals. He hires people whom he feels fit the company culture.

Not too many entrepreneurs understand the importance and significance culture plays in extracting the best performances from their people. Your culture establishes the behavioral patterns that encourage productivity. A disruptive employee in the workplace, regardless of experience, achievement and background, will create a contagion that will be detrimental to everyone’s performance.

Establish your company culture by identifying your non-negotiable core values and hire based on right-fit or those who subscribe to your purpose and vision. If you chose to create a team of virtual assistants, make sure to schedule meetings so they can get to know each other better.

7. Use focus blocks when you work

Digital technology has made it easy for many entrepreneurs to multi-task. As far back as 2009, it was common for coffee shop tables to be littered with laptops, mobile phones and organizers. Fast-forward six years later, and everything has been compartmentalized into a smart phone. Entrepreneurs have grown dependent on the smart phone and tend to multi-task more than ever.

In truth, multi-tasking is overrated. If you do too many tasks at one time, the quality of work will suffer and you will tend to miss important details. According to WP Beginner Founder Syed Balkhi, the best approach would be to use 15-minute focus blocks. He sets everything he needs to do in 15-minute focus blocks throughout the day. This allows him to remain dedicated and focused on each task and accomplish more items every day.

8. Always be forward thinking

Entrepreneurs can easily get distracted. If they experience failure or rejection, some have the tendency to step back, wallow in self-pity or perhaps give up and abandon ship. If they achieve success, some will tend to bask in their glory too long; believing they have finally made it.

As Sir Richard Branson said, “The moment you rest on your laurels is when someone overtakes you.” The same idea applies if you look elsewhere when you experience failure. Remember that your competition will use every situation to their advantage. Always be forward thinking and know that the entrepreneurial journey knows no end.

9. Do not be afraid to be fail

How would you feel if the person you hired was the one who fired you? That was what happened to Steve Jobs 30 years ago, and it was one of the most publicly humiliating experiences for a man who was considered by many to be a great visionary. When he was interviewed after being fired by Apple, Jobs used the phrase, “I don’t care about being right; I care about succeeding.”

Of course, we know how Jobs eventually found his way back to Apple and lead the company to its strongest and most powerful period. Jobs continued to innovate and introduce products that were not necessarily the best, but greatly connected with the market.

10. Surround yourself with the right people

Alibaba CEO and Founder Jack Ma recounted the time he was depressed while working for China’s Internet industry. He was surprised at the energy and vitality he experienced when he brought his work to Silicon Valley in the United States. Unlike China, Ma found the Americans to be more supportive and engaging with their business ideas.

As an entrepreneur, always be in the company of people who are supportive without enabling. They should have your best interests at heart and, for your part, you should keep an open mind and accept criticism constructively.

Maybe we all can’t be as successful as Mark Zuckerberg, Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Sara Blakely, J.R. Rowling, Howard Schultz, Tony Hsieh and Jack Ma. What is important, however, is to work toward fulfilling your purpose and vision when you established your business. As Jack Ma said, “Work not for money but for passion.” And the rest will take care of itself.

Author bio

Felix Tarcomnicu is an entrepreneur and blogger. He provides virtual assistant services at OutsourceWorkers.com.au. You can connect with him on Twitter.