Entrepreneurs have brought a great deal of success, employment, and technology to our current market. Tens of thousands of small businesses are started every year in the hopes of providing the best solution to a longstanding problem. Easier said than done. It should be no surprise that small businesses tend to have a very short life span. Most of the reasons for this are a lack of financial knowledge, not constantly iterating, and working for the wrong reasons, just to name a few.

The important thing to remember as an entrepreneur is to listen to the ones who have continued to operate successfully. Follow in their footsteps and take their advice in order to avoid similar pitfalls.

In order to help you become a successful entrepreneur, we’ve gathered 20 tips from expert business owners that you can learn from.

We hope you gain a deep understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur!

  • Rachel Shechtman, founder of STORY:

No idea is too big or too crazy, and don’t let perfectionism get in the way of finishing a project.” (via PSFK Labs)

  • Reggie Milligan, Co-founder of Mantry:

As a start-up, we bootstrap across every aspect of our business. For PR, we don’t have the money to allocate to a PR firm at this point, and I have been successful in reaching out directly.  As the co-founder, the media is sometimes surprised to see me doing the outreach, which is a great conversation-starter in and of itself.” (via Lisa Denten)

  • Steve Tobak, Silicon Valley-based strategy consultant:

They don’t do it for the money.

They don’t whine about how hard they work for peanuts. They just do it. And because they’re passionate about what they do and focused like a laser beam, the money eventually comes, big-time.”

Figure out your why. If you haven’t spent time trying to figure out WHY your brand exists, it will be really hard to build a brand. You need to go beyond “what” you build and “how” you do it but get to the heart of the why. This will act as the foundation in which you build everything on. It’s something you can return to, and it will steer you during the most important brand decisions you’ll inevitably be faced with.”

“Branding is the art and science of creating and delivering a consistent message, image and experience that brings your unique difference to life across all touch points. Doing good has never been more mainstream, so social enterprises must work harder to differentiate to help build reputation, attract donors, volunteers, and so on. One solution is to focus on that singular word you want to try to own–in your own way–in the minds of your audiences.

Read business books.

Take a day or two and read Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness. You might say, “Nah, dude, I just want to go build something awesome that people are going to love!” Right, if only it were as easy as that. Read Hsieh’s book. Learn from other business leaders who have already been there. It will help prepare you mentally for the battles, losses and victories that are to come.

Other suggestions are Eric Ries’ “The Lean Startup” and Steve Blank’s “Four Steps to the Epiphany.”

Have faith that you will succeed. Believe in your company, your customer and those working to help you succeed.”

  • Tommy Makhatho, owner of BiBi Cash n’ Carry

Do not go into business for the sake of money. Business owners should focus on creating wealth that will be built over time. The value in business is not what you get every day, but what you are investing over time.” (via the EOY Team)

  • US Small Business Administration

Find a mentor. You may feel a little lost or overwhelmed as you try to navigate the business world, especially starting out. A mentor can be an invaluable asset to help you along your way. Whether it’s a former boss, someone in your business network or knowledgeable family friend, find a mentor who has experience in your field and has walked in your shoes before. (via Small Biz Trends)

  • Richard Branson, founder and CEO of Virgin

You should focus on developing your skills in the areas you excel at. For instance, you might consider joining organisations that offer help with learning the basics of starting up a business. When you begin tossing around ideas for your start-up, don’t just limit yourself to apps and IT solutions. A great idea is a great idea, no matter what sector it’s in.” (via Jack Preston).

Chasing multiple rabbits (opportunities) breeds dysfunction. When you have too much to do (as we all can attest), not having a crystal clear picture of where to focus your time and energy will slow you to a snail’s pace.”

Dream big, but start small.

Every entrepreneur (social or not) hopes to see their idea prosper into a successful venture, but patience is a virtue. A new business needs time and space to evolve and grow. The key is to start by building a solid foundation through developing smaller, more manageable partnerships and then learn what works or doesn’t. In other words, partner with organisations that match your scale. Nobody is too small at the start.”

Rely heavily on online communities of similarly minded people. Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets make it easy to connect with like-minded people. Instead of thinking of other people in your field like competitors, embrace them as mentors and friends. They probably have a lot to teach you.”

Clear the clutter. Clutter includes: toxic people, time drainers, unnecessary events, and non-crucial product features. Founders must wear many hats, and choosing the ones that bring the highest value is critical to success (and maintaining sanity). Rid your life of the physical clutter and learn to gracefully remove the social clutter.”

  • David Lai, Founder and CEO, Hello Design

“I find that writing things down in a list and crossing them off helps me prioritise so I don’t lose focus. There’s a nice feeling knowing you’re getting stuff done, and that momentum helps me stay productive throughout the day.” – (via Suraj Sodha)

  • Justin Beegel, founder of Infographic World

Make sure you have a support system in place. If you don’t, go find one. Make sure you have a few people in your life you can go to, who know what you’re going through, whom you can bounce ideas off of, have them point out things you’re doing wrong, and just talk to in general.” (via Chad Brooks)

  • “The main difference between an employee and an entrepreneur is that you are now in charge of everything: what you do, when you do it and how you do it. The top tip is to set goals and audit your weekly activities to make sure you’re on track to achieve those goals. I set up a ‘goal post’ that’s visible and reminds me to get back on track when I find myself doing something outside the routine.” (via Brazen Careerist and YEC)
  • Brett Farmiloe, founder of Crazy Johns

Recognize you can’t do everything.

The skills that make a small business succeed won’t necessarily translate into the management nous needed for a larger organisation. As Ilhan told the Bulletin in 2007: “I’m not the chairman of my company because I couldn’t be at this stage. I accept that I’m not qualified for that. I know my weaknesses. I’ve employed people who are better than me in those areas.” (via Angus Kidman)

Polish your negotiating skills.

Once you know the pre-money valuation of your enterprise, you will have the necessary information to negotiate the percentage of your company it is reasonable to offer to make the deal happen. Be flexible, but make sure your end is sufficiently substantial to reward you for all the hard work, stress, and obstacles you will encounter … not to mention any cash you’ve invested.”

  • Hamish Pinkham, CEO of Rhythm and Vines

The path to success is never going to be a smooth one. Expect bumps along the way. If you can meander your way through those bumps, you’re going to increase your chances of creating something special, successful and true to your vision.” (via David Kyle)

What are your favorite pieces of advice for entrepreneurs just getting their feet wet? Post your words of wisdom in the comments section below!

Growth Marketing Manager at |

Andrew has serviced SEO clients across a variety of industries including large-scale e-commerce, retail, home services, and more. As Growth Marketing Manager for UpCity, he works every day to improve our Marketplace experience for agencies and business owners alike.