Chris is an entrepreneur, writer and coach based in NYC. He writes about productivity, finding happiness and creating a lifestyle you’ll love for publications like Inc, Entrepreneur and Time. Here’s his business advice for first-time entrepreneurs who want to start a business of their own: “The biggest mistake first-time entrepreneurs tend to make is not asking for help OR not asking for the right help from the right people.” “And a close second is not following up and nurturing those relationships when they do ask for help. There’s something that Tony Robbins always says about the importance of ‘standing on the shoulders of other giants’ and I think this is such an important thing for people to keep in mind.” “Pretty much anything you are going to go through, someone else has already gone through. Pretty much any feeling you are going to have, someone else has already had. Any obstacle, any roadblock, ANYTHING! Someone has come up against them and figured out a way to get around them. Tap into that. Whether it’s reading a book, reaching out or shadowing someone, get help and then do it better.”
Bill has over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur and operating executive. Since joining Garage Technology Ventures in 1998, Bill has worked with his partner, Guy Kawasaki to focus on investing in early-stage information technology and materials science companies. Here’s Bill’s best business advice for young entrepreneurs who want to start a business for the first time: “One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs tend to make when raising capital is listening to investors.” “When investors tell you why they don’t like your pitch, they’re almost always lying. They’ll usually tell you that you’re too early, or you need more traction, or you need too much money, or you need too little money.” “But if they really thought you had something brilliant, they wouldn’t let you out of their sight. They’re simply offering an excuse for not liking your company. Don’t walk away thinking that the problem is that you just aren’t a fit. You need to find out what’s really wrong with your story. Don’t count on investors to tell you. Get a few good, savvy mentors or advisors to tell you the truth.”
Oleg is the co-founder and CEO of SEMrush, an all-in-one marketing toolkit for digital marketers. Oleg has grown SEMrush to 400 employees in four offices around the world and in 2016 they celebrated 1 million users (!!!) with clients in more than 100 countries. Here’s Oleg’s best business advice for first-time entrepreneurs looking to start a business of their own: “First-time entrepreneurs pay too much attention to what other companies are doing without thinking for themselves.” “Every company is unique and has an entirely different DNA. A particular strategy may not work for your company, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t work for mine and vice versa. My piece of advice is that you should always ask yourself: Why didn’t that strategy didn’t work for them, and will it work for me?” “What is the difference between our companies? Why did that strategy bring them difference results when it will never deliver the same for us? What is the difference in our DNA?”
Tomas is a lifestyle entrepreneur and blogger from Lithuania and has even dabbled in a bit of his own travel blogging over the years. He writes about habits, lifestyle design, entrepreneurship and we’ve had many conversations about managing taxes for bloggers too. Right now, he’s traveling the world with a mission to empower 1 million people to change their lifestyle for good. Here’s Tomas’ best business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to start a business today: “First, let yourself wander. Try new things, meet people outside of your comfort zone and travel.” “It will help you design your personal MBA which will teach you more than any formal setting out there. Learn to read people, master the art of communication and become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Once you figure out what drives you, use that power to help people.”
Eric Siu is the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain, which has helped venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies grow their revenues. He’s also the founder of the marketing podcast, Growth Everywhere and does a daily podcast called Marketing School with Neil Patel. Here’s Eric’s best business advice for getting started today: “For any business owner it is crucial to define processes behind every goal and KPI. Success is the continued refinement of these processes until results start to show.” “Entrepreneurship requires continued learning and if you’re not constantly learning and testing new things, then eventually your competitors will take the lead. The trick is to quickly access new tactics and incorporate those that work to enhance your business goals.” “Networking is the other main thing I see many new entrepreneur ignoring. Talking to the right person can be 100x more beneficial than some course or tactic alone.”
Jan is the CEO at Paymo, an online project management solution for small businesses looking to take away the pain of planning, scheduling, task management, time tracking, and invoicing. When asked to share his best business advice for new entrepreneurs, Jan shares: “Focus all your energy toward one big objective. Try to become a laser, avoid being a stroboscope.” “As an entrepreneur, your customers and your team rely on you to deliver. Try to harness your team’s energy towards your vision and do everything you can to avoid being distracted. A lot of businesses fail once the vision becomes blurry.”
Josh Kraus is a Chicago-born, Denver-based writer and mediocre autobiographist who likes to make things. When he’s not writing, he attends to his t-shirt business, Bird Fur. Find him at joshkra.us and birdfurtees.com. As a freelance writer by trade (that started by doing remote blogging jobs), I asked Josh to tailor his success tip to freelancers specifically. Here’s his best business advice for new freelancers: “The most painful mistake I see new freelancers make is taking jobs at content mills, or other jobs with content mill prices, and get stuck doing those jobs long after they should have left.” “It’s okay to take a job writing blog posts for 1 cent a word in order to build a portfolio, but once you’ve got a few good pieces from it, for the love of god get out! Use them to help you further your career, don’t let them use you.” Learning how to write a kick-ass freelance proposal will teach you a lot about positioning your value, highlighting your strengths and selling yourself as a premium service-provider to your clients.
Austin is an entrepreneur, author and the founder of Cultivated Culture, where he teaches millennials how to land their dream jobs, skyrocket their salaries and work 100% remote jobs in a matter of months. Here’s his best business advice for first-time entrepreneurs who want to find a side hustle idea: “My best piece of advice is to focus on taking small steps and being consistent. It’s going to take time and it’s going to take work, you can’t start a successful side business overnight. With that in mind, you should start by doing three things.” “First, come up with a tangible, overarching goal. This could be something like landing 5 clients at an average of $1,000/month per client in the next 6 months or building an email list of 1,000 subscribers, launching a course and selling at least 50 copies in the next 8 months.” “Second, take time every night to write down a goal for the next day that will take you one step closer to your greater goal.” “Then third, block off 1 hour every day to accomplish that goal. If you complete your goal in the first 30 minutes, use the next 30 to start on the next step that brings you even closer to your bigger picture goal.” “That’s the easy part. The tough part, and the part that will make or break your success, is being disciplined and repeating these steps at least 5 or 6 days each week. If you can stay consistent, the results will add up and you’ll surprised at how quickly you’ll progress.” To add to what Austin said, creating a regimented schedule of exactly when you’ll be working on your side business can help you stay in the clear with your day job and avoid making costly mistakes that could get you fired (or sued).
Nick is the Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Killer Infographics, a Seattle-based leader in visual communications and the design of infographics, motion graphics, and interactive infographics. Here’s the business advice Nick has to share with new entrepreneurs who want to start a business of their own: “One of the most painful mistakes I see way too frequently is when entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of a robust marketing and sales strategy for their fledgling business.” “Many new CEOs are hyper-focused on making their MVP, but they don’t really have a long-term vision for how to make their companies profitable. I would recommend designating marketing and sales as a day-one priority. This will help your business earn fans before the MVP ships and ensures that what you create is truly something that a customer will want to pay for.”
Jim is the Founder and CEO of Owler, a crowdsourced competitive intelligence platform. Prior to Owler, Jim founded Jigsaw in 2003 and was CEO until it was acquired by Salesforce in 2010 for $175 million. Before his career in technology, Jim was owner and operator of Lookout Pass, a ski resort in Idaho, and served in the U.S. Navy as a diving and salvage officer. He’s seriously the man. Here’s Jim’s business advice to first-time entrepreneur who want to start a business: “The number one problem that most entrepreneurs make is being overly optimistic, which often leads to them running out of cash or being cash strapped. Money problems can be seen from a mile away.” “Entrepreneurs have to be optimistic realists, which allows them to make tough choices ahead of any cash problems. I learned this as a young entrepreneur when running a small ski lodge in Idaho. Overly optimistic, I ran my business based on the best case scenario, and in turn lived in constant and mortal fear of missing payroll or delaying payments to vendors. I’ve since learned to operate with optimistic realism. And have run subsequent organizations by the metrics with clear guard rails in place.”