Sir Richard Branson, one of the world’s most recognizable billionaires, and the founder of Virgin Group, has built an empire comprised of more than 400 companies including airlines, record stores, publishing organizations and he’s even tackling commercial space travel. He’s also the author of more than a dozen business books, including his latest (fantastic) autobiography, Finding My Virginity that shares from behind-the-scenes of the ups and downs throughout Branson’s more than fifty year career as an entrepreneur. During his interview on 30 Days of Genius with CreativeLive, I got to hear his best business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business of their own, first-hand: “The best businesses come from people’s bad personal experiences. If you just keep your eyes open, you’re going to find something that frustrates you, and then you think, ‘well I could maybe do it better than it’s being done,’ and there you have a business.” “If you can improve people’s lives, you have a business. People think, ‘well everything’s been thought of,’ but actually, all of the time, there are gaps in the market here and gaps in the market there.”
Arianna is a co-founder of The Huffington Post, author of the recent New York Times best-seller The Sleep Revolution and stepped down as Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post to pursue her new wellness startup, Thrive Global, which will offer wellness trainings and workshops on stress reduction. Here’s her business advice for entrepreneurs who want to start a business for the first time: “If you’re going to start a business, you need to really love it, because not everybody is going to love it. When The Huffington Post was first launched in 2005, there were so many detractors. I remember a critic who wrote that The Huffington Post was an unsurvivable failure.” “When you get reviews like that and detractors like that, you have to really believe in your product. When you really believe in your product, you are willing to deal with all the naysayers and persevere.”
Mark is an entrepreneur and investor on ABC’s Shark Tank. He’s the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theatres, Magnolia Pictures, and is the chairman of the HDTV cable network AXS TV. In his recent interview on 30 Days of Genius with CreativeLive, Mark talked a lot about the mistakes many new entrepreneurs make when they think they’ve found a profitable business idea. Here’s his business advice to those who want to start a business: “What I always ask people is, (1) is it something you love to do and (2) is this something you’re good at?” “Then, taking that first step is always the hardest. It’s terrifying, but really, it’s about preparation. We all go through this process where you’ve got the business idea, you get that feeling in your stomach and you get all excited. Then you talk to a friend, and your friend says, ‘oh wow that’s pretty cool, I’ve never heard of anything like that. I’d buy that.’ And then you do the Google search.” “The first thing I’ll tell you, is that just because you don’t see it on Google, doesn’t mean one hundred companies haven’t gone out of business doing the same thing. It hasn’t been done for a reason, because every company that’s tried it, has gone out of business.”
Robert is a seasoned entrepreneur and investor who’s built & sold several companies to major brands like AT&T. Now a leading authority on information security technology, he’s also one of the most recognizable faces from ABC’s award-winning show, Shark Tank where he’s earned a reputation for sharing down-to-earth business advice to young entrepreneurs. Here’s Robert’s best business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs when it comes to pitching your idea: “You have 90 seconds, if you’re lucky. If you can’t make your point persuasively in that time, you’ve lost the chance for impact. Facts and figures are important, but it’s not the only criteria, you must present in a manner that generates expertise and confidence.” “If you’re not prepared to make your pitch, you may just miss your next big opportunity.” For more advice on how to successfully pitch investors, check out my friend Jock’s guide on how to pitch a Shark.
Sophia transformed Nasty Gal from an eBay store into a multi-million dollar empire with her own clothing line that was named the fastest growing retailer in 2012. She’s also the author of the New York Times best-seller #GIRLBOSS. Here’s her best piece of business advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business: “Don’t give up, don’t take anything personally, and don’t take no for an answer; you never know what you’re going to learn along the way.” “The people who told me no, were the people that eventually told me yes; so don’t forget it.”
Tony is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, philanthropist and the nation’s #1 life and business strategist. A recognized authority on the psychology of leadership, negotiations and organizational turnaround, he has served as an advisor to leaders around the world for more than 38 years. He’s also the author of five internationally bestselling books, including the recent New York Times #1 best-seller MONEY: Master The Game. Tony has empowered more than 50 million people from 100 countries through his audio, video and life training programs. Here’s his business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business: “The most painful mistake I see in first-time entrepreneurs is thinking that just having a business plan or a great concept is enough to guarantee success. It’s not. Business success is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics. And, frankly, most people’s psychology is not meant for building a business.” “My business advice? Think honestly about who you are, what you want to accomplish, and what mindset you need to have to get there. Because the biggest thing that will hold you back is your own nature. Few people are natural risk-takers or emotionally ready for the challenges of building a business. You can’t just sign up for a marathon and run it without ever training. You have to increase your capacity and become fit. Being an entrepreneur requires similar kinds of emotional and psychological fitness so that you don’t become the chokehold on your business’s success.”
Guy is Chief Evangelist of Canva, the author of thirteen books including the acclaimed Art of the Start, which has been hailed as a weapon of mass creation by entrepreneurs around the world. He’s also the former chief evangelist of Apple. Here’s his business advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a business of their own: “My best business tip is to focus on the prototype. Don’t focus on your pitch deck, business plan or financial projections.” “If you get a prototype out and you get enough people using it, you never have to write a business plan, do a forecast or do anything like that. A prototype is where you separate the BS from the reality.”
Derek has been a musician, producer, circus performer, entrepreneur, TED speaker, and book publisher. He started CDBaby and HostBaby, which got way too big, so he gave them away. Now he’s a writer, programmer and student. Here’s his best business advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “Start now, you don’t need funding. Watch out for when you want to do something big, but say you can’t until you raise money to fund the idea. It usually means you’re more in love with the idea of being big than with actually doing something useful.” “For an idea to get big, it has to be something useful–and being useful doesn’t need funding. If you want to be useful, you can always start right now with just 1% of what you have in your grand vision. It’ll be a humble prototype of your grand vision, but you’ll be in the game. You’ll be ahead of the rest because you actually started, when others waited for the finish line to magically appear at the starting line.” Read this post from Derek for much more.
Nir is the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and blogs about the psychology of products at NirAndFar.com. Here’s his two cents and success tips for first-time entrepreneurs who want to start a business: “The easiest way to tell if someone is a first-time entrepreneur is when they’re secretive about their ideas. I don’t reply to people who ask me to sign an NDA. Real entrepreneurs know good ideas are cheap and that success comes from hard work, not a stroke of genius.” “The other big mistake I see entrepreneurs make is building a product for a customer they don’t know well. That’s why I always advise entrepreneurs to build a product for themselves–at least that way you ensure you’ve built something for a user you know intimately. All of the great tech companies of the past decade–Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Snapchat–were built by founders who were making products they wanted to use.”
Author, speaker, and the founder of What Works. Tara works with business owners to help them transition into more profitable business models, more compelling messaging, and more influence. She’s featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc, and DailyWorth for the work she’s done with her clients. Here’s Tara’s take on the biggest mistake new entrepreneurs make when they want to start a business: “They wait to get started. They wait until they have more information, more experience, more, more money, and a more perfect version of whatever they have created.” “All that waiting means they’re not really learning. When you’re an entrepreneur, the best way to learn is to do something, to put your idea into someone’s hands, or to talk to the people you want to serve. Stop waiting and do… something.” Want to learn more from Tara? Check out her classes on CreativeLive covering a wide range of topics like turning your service into a product, building a community around your business, writing and selling eBooks, and more.