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5 Gems of Entrepreneurial Wisdom that Every Startup Should Know

Creating a startup can feel daunting – and at times, it seems downright impossible. To better understand how entrepreneurs can best navigate the startup world, we turned to the experts. Below, enjoy 5 gems of wisdom from the biggest success stories in the entrepreneurial world.

1. Toughen Up.

In an interview with Forbes, Tory Burch founder explained, “Thicken your skin. Being a sensitive, thoughtful person opens you up for criticism and being affected by it. I heard and tried not to listen to a lot of negativity. The noise and negativity were just the sidebar.” 

When you’re leading a startup, you’re going to get a lot of criticism, and a hearty dose of feedback that you may or may not have asked for. Listen to what people have to say without letting it demoralize. A huge part of a startup’s success relies on the confidence of the people standing behind it. Don’t put that in jeopardy by allowing yourself to get affected by censure.

2. Pick the Right People. 
When Business News Daily asked Elon Musk about the key to a startup’s success, his response was straightforward: “I think it’s incredibly important to pick the right people… Running a company…it’s like if you’re running a major league baseball or football team, or something like that. It’s just how good are your players? How good are they working together? And that will define success.

Make sure that you cultivate a talented, dedicated, and passionate team of people to be both the face and the backend of your startup. Your company is only as strong as the people that run it. So make sure that you’ve placed great employees in the driver’s seat.

3. Failure is Okay. Giving Up Isn’t.

In 2013, Clickable founder David S. Kidder published The Start-up Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest Growing Start-ups from Their Founding Entrepreneurs, a collection of insights from some of the world’s most successful startup leaders. In it, Spanx founder Sara Blakely famously said, “To me, failure means not trying; failure isn’t the outcome. If I have to look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘I didn’t try that because I was scared,’ that is failure.

When you’re running a startup, failure is an inevitable fact of life. Your soaring triumphs are going to be matched by some flaming crash-and-burn scenarios. And that’s okay. But what matters is that you don’t throw in the towel when these failures hit you head-on. Just move on.


4. Motivate through Inspiration.

In an interview with Inc., Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh explained, “While there are lots of ways to motivate employees–fear, recognition, incentives (“If you do ‘x,’ I’ll give you ‘y’), what we stumbled into and figured out over the years is there’s a huge difference between motivation and inspiration… If you can inspire employees through a higher purpose beyond profits, that you’re doing something that can help change the world, you can accomplish so much more.

The best way to motivate employees is to show them that they’re involved in something bigger than a paycheck. They’re a part of a movement that will do something to make the world a better place. And when they feel like they’re bringing something to the table of the global community, they’ll be a lot more apt to dive in wholeheartedly.

5. Ask for Advice.

Navigating the startup world can be tricky, and it’s important to feel like you have a support system. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Virgin founder Richard Branson explained, “When you need to make hard decisions, being able to discuss your ideas with entrepreneurs and business leaders who have solved similar problems can make all the difference.”

It’s okay to ask for help. Actually, if you want your startup to succeed, it’s vital.

The startup world is challenging, sometimes-infuriating, and almost always incredibly rewarding. Stick with these pillars of advice and enjoy the journey!

Image Credit: [Flickr/SeanK] [Flickr/Mycatkins]

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