10 Lessons from the Most Successful Entrepreneurs of Our Time

10 Lessons from the Most Successful Entrepreneurs of Our Time

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. By learning from previous entrepreneurs, new entrepreneurs can maximise their chances of success.

Here are 10 tips and lessons from some of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time.

Elon Musk

“I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.”

Bullied as a child, Elon Musk is today’s epitome of the Entrepreneurial Fairy Tale. Recently named the second-richest man in the world (second only to Jeff Bezos, and overtaking Bill Gates), Elon has disrupted the market over and over, always innovating, never settling for “normal”.

Steve Jobs

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”

Steve Jobs was beset by difficulties in his life. He was ousted from Apple due to his relentless determination to make every aspect of Apple’s products a success. While gone, he was a huge part of bringing us Toy Story and computer animation, only to be asked to come back to Apple and rescue the company.

Despite constant ill-health, he worked relentlessly to make Apple the giant it is today. His legacy will live on forever as a part of Apple’s core ethos.

Oprah Winfrey

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

Oprah Winfrey started her life in poverty and is now a household name. She completely transformed daily talk shows and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

If there is anyone who knows about pushing through failure, it is she.

Bill Gates

“I never took a day off in my twenties. Not one.”

If Bill Gates never took a day off in his twenties, he certainly can afford to take several off now — not to mention as many vacations in the Bahamas as he wishes.

Although he is no longer the richest person in the world, he’s still pretty freaking rich.

Hard work pays, it appears.

Mark Zuckerberg

“Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.”

If Mark Zuckerberg’s policy was to always break things, he certainly did that with Facebook’s constant violations of user privacy over the years.

Still, those endless violations of personal space made him a mega-gazillionaire. Not sure if this is a lesson all entrepreneurs want to learn from, but perhaps it works with a small pinch of salt.

Walt Disney

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

The essence of entrepreneurship is to make dreams a reality.

Walter Elias Disney took it a step further and helped bring other people’s dreams to reality, too.

Jeff Bezos

“Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”

Jeff Bezos — officially the world’s richest person — started Amazon in his garage, making deliveries himself.

Tell that to Amazon’s Flex drivers!

It took a long time to come from that garage to his position as the billionaire he is today. Patience, indeed.

Larry Page

“Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting.”

Where would be today without Google?

In search of a dissertation project in college, Larry Page partnered up with Sergey Brin to put together the “PageRank algorithm” in order to rank pages on the web according to the hyperlinks that pointed to them.

A lot of “uncomfortably exciting” work later, and we stand today in a world where Google is everywhere.

Sir Richard Branson

“Screw it. Let’s do it.”

Known for his extravagant publicity stunts in the early days of his career, Sir Richard Branson really made a name for himself by following the motto of “Screw it, just do it.”

Every entrepreneur can take something away from that.

Ariana Huffington

“If you are not in touch with your intuition, you cannot be successful.”

Named one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes in 2014, Greek-born Ariana Huffington has proven that her intuition is spot-on.

Sometimes, intuition goes by the name “gut feel” or “a hunch”.

Whatever you call it, entrepreneurship counts more on intuition than you might initially imagine.


What will your lesson to the world be after you start your own business?

If there is one lesson all these incredible entrepreneurs have taught us, it is that there is always something to learn.

Entrepreneurship is about creativity, taking risks and doing the unprecedented.

Whether you’re starting out in your garage or have already secured hundreds of thousands in business funding and are operating from swanky headquarters in London, entrepreneurship is all about the journey and the thrill of making something out of nothing.

Every entrepreneur has to start small (like Jeff Bezos in his Seattle garage, or Larry Page and Sergey Brin from their college campus). But one thing all these entrepreneurs have in common is that their initial business idea was sound.

And, even if it hadn’t been, “failure” should not be part of an entrepreneur’s vocabulary, as Oprah Winfrey has taught us.

Oh, and here’s one lesson of our own: None of these people made it alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help as an entrepreneur.

About author
Julia Richards
Julia Richards

Our head of content, Julia has spent the past 20 years assisting entrepreneurs with all aspects of business launch and growth strategies in various industries around the globe.

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