Deep down in our hearts, we all nurture our own hopes and dreams of financial freedom and more importantly than that being able to do what we love for a living. Being an entrepreneur sounds like a fantastic ideal. It is something we read about online and allow ourselves to daydream about. But what if we embraced the idea that becoming an entrepreneur is closer than we think? Learning how to start a business is no easy feat. Yet there is a journey and a path that we must all follow before we reach a measure of success, but let’s take a closer look at the lives and experiences of the some of the world’s most wildly successful entrepreneurs. Let’s also find out more about how we can cultivate the mind set of an entrepreneur and build their career advice into our own experience.
Owner of Microsoft and Philanthropist
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” Bill Gates
If you are computer-literate and computer savvy there is simply no doubt that you have encountered the works of Bill Gates through his landmark invention, Microsoft. Bill started off in the early seventies with co-founder Paul Allen and went on to enjoy such phenomenal success that he was a millionaire at the tender age of 31.
Ironically, it was not just his best business ideas and successes that Bill Gates took his greatest lessons from but his failures. From the outside looking in, Bill’s early career painted a bleak picture. He was a Harvard drop-out and one of his first companies failed. Traf-O-Data was a system designed to provide intelligence to engineers on road traffic problems and help them solve road congestion issues. However this did not deter him and he later said that the lessons he learnt from his failures at Traf-O-Data, built him up for the successes experienced with Microsoft.
What we could learn from Bill Gates:
Many of us have the capacity to fall prey to our own perceived failures. Instead of learning from our setbacks, we end up languishing in them instead of learning and developing new business ideas. We should each have the courage to use our weaker moments as stepping stones to success.
American Fashion Designer
“Success isn’t about the end result; it’s about what you learn along the way.” Vera Wang
If you think of bespoke and fashionable wedding dresses and gowns, the name Vera Wang oozes elegance and communicates a success story that is like no other. As a designer she has worked with some of the most prestigious celebrities providing designer dresses and couture. However, her current success is not something that gets to her head.
Wang has famously said that she was never afraid to take on different roles in order to get her business to flourish. Through her career she has gotten involved in the business and creative side of things and has counted every experience and entrepreneur idea that she’s ever had as invaluable one in the step ladder of success.
What we could learn from Vera Wang:
Too often in our own experience, we live with a so-called destination addiction. We believe that success is about an end-result and an outcome. So instead of celebrating our lives today, we end up missing the boat on most of our current experiences. Vera Wang’s story shows us that in order to be successful we have to embody success within the journey and along the way.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice… and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Steve Jobs
American and Apple magnate Steve Jobs has always had somewhat of a reputation for being a rebel in a creative space. He had a passion for innovation and always encouraged people to get on the right path in terms of who they were and what they stood for. He didn’t just speak the ethos, he lived it as well, designing dynamic products within the Apple range that stirred the industry and forever shaped the users creative experience. In a stirring speech that he gave at a Stanford University address, he imparted his most motivational thoughts about the approach and enthusiasm that he had for living that had propelled him towards his perceived success.
What we could learn from Steve Jobs:
In a modern day society that feeds off our deepest insecurities and anxieties it can become so easy to lose our minds and identities believing that we are always wrong. We need to find real and tangible ways in which to reclaim authority over our own lives and take decisions that communicate the truth of who we are and not parrot the message of the masses.
Media Moghul and Philanthropist
“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” Oprah Winfrey
Given the widespread success of media Moghul Oprah Winfrey one could be forgiven for thinking that this her journey was completely unblemished and flawless. Everybody the world over knows her for her witty comments, informative guests and for talk shows that inspire people to live their best lives and effect personal change. She has gone on to show us all how to start a business, when she began her own media network called the OWN network.
However Oprah Winfrey herself is the first person to admit to a range of her own faults and shortcomings that shaped her early career experience and in fact paved the way for her future success. She continues to be an inspiration for women entrepreneurs the world over by her authentic example and unaffected style. Early in her career she was kicked off her job as a news anchor. She also began her famous talk show, with the content and format following more of a gossip rag than being a show filled with value. She later made the iconic statement ‘when you know better, you do better’ and in fact went on to do just that.
What we could learn from Oprah Winfrey:
When it comes to our own lives we are only as positive and influential as the fabric of our very own lives. If we are to succeed, we must first embrace our authenticity as human beings, by acknowledging that we have flaws and make mistakes and go about our journey anyways. A good practice would be to write down points of gratitude about yourself into a journal so that you are able to express compassion for your faults as well as appreciate your positive aspects. Oprah is the ultimate teacher of the life practice of self- acceptance on the path to success.
Facebook CEO and Co-founder
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and co-founder of Facebook probably never could have imagined in his wildest dreams that he would be as successful and well-known as he is today. What started as a pet university project to connect friends at Harvard University has exploded exponentially. The situation has literally reached a point where now literally millions of people log into Facebook every single morning before they do anything else. Mark Zuckerberg embraced the idea of taking risks early on in his development career, he was controversial in developing an app called FaceMash – which called for college students to rate each other on a ‘hot or not’ basis. As the years progressed, he took other greater risks like paying a huge sum of money to have Sheryl Sandberg on his team, he had initially limited Facebook to just university students to up its exclusivity factor.
What we can learn from Mark Zuckerberg:
In business and in life, it is always okay to take precautions so that our best interests are taken care of, however, in order for true innovation and personal growth to take place, we must always be willing to step out of our comfort zones and into new experiences. Mark Zuckerberg has capitalised an entire industry based on social networking which ten years ago would have been viewed by investors as a ludicrous risk and not among the best business ideas. Ask yourself, about how you could possibly go out on a limb in the name of your own personal progress? Then by all means, go ahead and do exactly that.
“I believe you have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate.” Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos the founder of the world-renowned Amazon.com, took a complete leap of faith from having a secure career working on Wall Street.
He held a prestigious position there as the being one of the youngest senior vice presidents at a company called D.E Shaw, which he ended up quitting to follow his passion of creating an online bookstore, Amazon.com.
At first many of his friends and family thought he was a bit crazy for taking such a gamble. After all its not every day that people leave a lucrative career for the unknown. He even went as far as to move from his home town to Seattle, set up an office in a garage along with a small team of developers.
It was worth it in the end- sales of books exploded and the online bookstore expanded to become an online marketspace for just about anything under the sun.
What we can learn from the life of Jeff Bezos:
The decisions that we take in our lives are vastly influenced by and commented upon by other people. Strangely enough human nature is such that we are always worrying about what the next person thinks. Jeff Bezos had a clear cut vision of exactly what it was the he wanted to achieve in terms of his own business ideas. He saw a gap in the market and went for it with single-minded determination even though nobody else understood him. Similarly we should not worry or fret about being understood if we have brilliant ideas, but rather surround ourselves with people who understand our mission and support it. Even if we do not find the support that we need it is sometimes better to go it alone than to risk an unfulfilled life.
Entrepreneur, Angel Investor and Public Speaker
“I think time management as a label encourages people to view each 24-hour period as a slot in which they should pack as much as possible. “Tim Ferris
How Tim Ferris shot to fame was with his fascination for making the work week shorter so that he could free up his time to do the things that he loved. So what did he do about it? He was and still is a strong angel investor in many prominent start-up businesses, but he was also relentless about learning and processes related to it, A man of many talents, Ferris even came up with a nutritional supplement called BrainQUICKEN which he claimed quickened the wits and the brains response, memory and reactions. It is was through this very journey with this supplement that he went on figure out ways to maximise brain potential and reduce what he feels is the inherent human capacity to waste time. He is perhaps most famous for his business brainchild book called The Four-Hour Work Week.
What we can learn from Tim Ferris:
The life and experiences of Tim Ferris teach us to challenge our views on being so dedicated to big organisations and corporates when we could be engaged in our own business interests. We would do well to evaluate our own personal goals and performances outside of a corporate environment and give greater meaning to the richness of our lives.
Mukesh Dirubhai Ambani
Indian Business Magnate
“I think that our fundamental belief is that for us growth is a way of life and we have to grow at all times.” – Mukesh Ambani
Expansion is a word that is not foreign to the language or Reliance Industries MD and chairman, Mukesh Ambani. For him growth for the family inherited brand has meant diversifying into a number of different industries. Ambitious from an early age, he had also completed a degree in chemical engineering and had even begun his MBA at the prestigious Stanford University before he left it all to join his father in business. He learned a lot of his business acumen from his father but also took the business to the next level with expansion into areas such as petrochemicals and even communications.
What we can learn from Mukesh Ambani:
Some of the best entrepreneur ideas that we have are ones that are worth researching, nurturing, keeping and ultimately developing. When it comes to our own business efforts and ideas it helps to place our energies to a few different genres and sectors instead of placing all of our eggs in one basket. Energy and information are two forces that have moulded Mukesh Ambani’s fortunes; perhaps a careful study of those forces and how you could cultivate them in your everyday life would also benefit you?
Tennis Champion and Entrepreneur
“I am not a robot. I have a heart and I bleed.“ Serena Williams
We all know that Serena William is a celebrated and decorated tennis champion, but did you know that she is also an entrepreneur? Williams blazes a trail for all people but more especially for women entrepreneurs who look to be successful in more than one sphere of their lives. Serena has 21 grand slam titles to her name, but also has a successful fashion business and holds stakes in the football franchise Miami Dolphins. Superwoman though she may sound like it, Serena’s motivational thoughts lean toward family and human relationships. Williams is always highly aware of the amount of pressure there is on her to win at all costs and it a perception that she speaks up about highlighting the fact that though she may be a champion, she is also human.
What we can learn from Serena Williams:
Serena Williams embodies a type of charisma, vigour and energy that few possess, however what she also has a healthy, balanced view of her capabilities and self-esteem. From Serena we can learn more about taking a magnanimous view of our own selves and lives, and not to place impossible and unrealistic goals in our own lives that demand we burn out or perform only at our best, but that we meet a happy equilibrium.
Business Magnate, Investor and Philanthropist
You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over. Richard Branson
Not that Sir Richard Branson needs much of an introduction, but he is the life, face and soul behind the Virgin Group. Some of the most recognisable brands being that of Virgin Active health clubs, Virgin airlines and the Virgin Mega Stores.
His success story does not by any means read as a charmed one, in fact he ran up against many challenges as he tried to carve out his business ideas and entrepreneurial journey. In fact when he started out, he knew nothing about business hence the name ‘Virgin’ that he used as a brand. Branson’s entire business approach centred on taking chances on artists that others wouldn’t for his record label, signing on controversial bands and moving into new and innovative areas by creating Virgin Fuels that among a plethora of other projects.
What we can learn from Richard Branson:
We can learn never to give up on something that we imagine is too big, too way out and unachievable. We can also learn how to surpass odds and personal challenges, much in a similar way to Richard Branson having overcome his Dyslexia to achieve great things in life. Branson’s example continually reminds us to throw ourselves out there regularly and to not be afraid to make mistakes in the name of personal development.
Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata
Alive, JRD Tata was a creative business force to be reckoned with; now that he is gone we may look back in retrospect at the amazing legacy that he has left at the helm of the Tata Sons. He was a perfectionist of sort, known for his enterprising and engaging business manner, but also for his refusal to accept common thinking if his many and varied accolades are anything to go by.
JRD Tata was a visionary and thrill-seeker who was not afraid to try new things and make mistakes in the name of creation. Due to his duel heritage, (his dad was Indian and his mum was French), he first started out his young adult life serving in the French Army squadron.
His life took a dramatic turn when he wanted to go to Cambridge for a further education but was asked by his father to join the family business, Tata Sons. Where many might have felt resentful, J.R.D humbled himself, and even renounced his French citizenship to come to India as an unpaid apprentice at the company. As the years progressed, he rose in rank to occupy the position of chairman and elevate the profits and standing of Tata Sons.
He stood out even further as the first person to ever obtain his pilot license in India and went on to establish an airline called Tata Airlines and that eventually evolved to Air India.
What we could learn from JRD Tata:
JRD Tata displays to us, how unique we each must be in our thinking in order to succeed in life and in our careers. He was a master of adaptability and reinvention and inspires us to embrace the different roles that life throws at us in the name of personal development and growth. Quite often we cling to comfort and the roles that we are accustomed to whether in work or personal lives, so we dig in our heels and end up resisting our own personal growth. The life and attitude of JRD Tata encourages us to be resilient, open to learning and innovation and be our best selves.
Now that we have had a round up and gained insight into the minds of the most iconic entrepreneur ideas and minds, it would do to find ways to not just read about, but to breathe in and embody the characteristics on an entrepreneur.
The value and benefits of being an entrepreneur:
- You get to work at your own pace
- Being an entrepreneur provides you the opportunity to do what you love and get paid for it
- There will always be a chance for you to innovate and create new opportunities for emerging talent in industry.
Develop the personal qualities of an entrepreneur
What are qualities needed to become an entrepreneur?
You would need to be:
- Committed to progress
- Resilient, work under pressure and remain focused.
You will also need to:
- Know how to communicate
- Listen to people
- Develop your powers of perception and intuition
Wishing you all the very best on your journey and path towards personal development and entrepreneurship!