30 Must-Learn Lessons From top Entrepreneurs

Jyotshana Rani

23rd Dec'20

As a newcomer in the entrepreneur's world, we often try to take lessons from our idols and try to follow their footpath to achieve what they have achieved in their life. Forget about the business world, even in life we need motivation and lessons to grow. 


So, here are some must-learn lessons from prominent people in the world:


1. Steve Jobs

Every morning, Steve Jobs used to look into the mirror and ask himself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm about to do today?" And he got the answer “no”.

From then and there he started making changes in his life until he hit a consistent yes for the questions. And this made him drive countless innovations and a company worth $702 billion.


2. Michael Dell

Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers says that the key isn't being a big fish in a small pond ... but being a small fish in a big pond.

"Never be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you find a different room."

Adding on he says, "In professional circles, it’s called networking. In organizations, it’s called team building. And in life, it’s called family, friends, and community. We are all gifts to each other, and my own growth as a leader has shown me again and again that the most rewarding experiences come from my relationships."


3. Chip Wilson

In our life, whether you accept it or not, we all need help. But most of us hesitate to ask for it or simply do not know how to ask.

Founder of the women's clothing brand Lululemon, Chip Wilson from his own experience suggests that people love to help, so whenever you need it, just ask for it without thinking much. 


4. J.K. Rowling

“Failure is the foundation of success”.

In our life, we try to avoid failure and in doing so, unconsciously, we avoid success as well. 

Billion-dollar book series Harry Potter’s author, J.K.Rowling says, "I had failed on an epic scale”. She knows about the failure more than anything. And She says failures are what made her take life-changing decisions.

So, face the failures because when we think that it's over, we get something world-changing coming up around the corner.


Hidden Patterns of Startup Failure

Tom Eisenmann, a Harvard Business School professor has explained the failure pattern of startups. And one must know about this so that they can avoid making the same mistakes. We get so involved in following other's success patterns that we forget to avoid the mistakes that they made in between. Get to know the common pattern of startup failure.


5. Jack Ma

Founder of Alibaba, the world’s 18th richest man, and China’s richest man, Jack Ma says, "30% of all people will never believe you. So, instead of uniting the company around a particular person, let everyone work for a common goal."

One thing he has learned from his success is: You cannot unify everyone’s thoughts, but you can unify everyone through a common goal.


6. Jack Dorsey

Co-founder of Twitter as well as Square and Silicon Valley billionaire, Jack Dorsey, works eight hours every day at each company, making it 16 hours working each day.

And the secret to staying sane while working is adhering to a themed schedule:

"On Mondays at both companies, I focus on management and running the company. Tuesday is focused on the product. Wednesday is on marketing, communications, and growth. Thursday development and partnerships. Friday is focused on development and recruiting. Saturday I take off and hike. Sunday is strategy, reflection, and feedback and getting ready for the rest of the week.”

This structure helps him to remember quickly and get back into what he was doing even when there are interruptions many times.


7. Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio, founder of the world's largest hedge fund called Bridgewater Associate, checks his ego every single day and tarnishes any fears of being wrong.

He says, "Anyone's main obstacle to improvement is his own fragile ego. So at our firm, I started to make constant, unvarnished criticism the norm, until critiques weren't taken personally and no one held back a good idea for fear of being wrong."

This helps people in presenting their ideas without any hesitation resulting in a more productive business. 


8. Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods, the greatest professional golfer in history says that there is no "correct" way to be successful when asked for golf advice. Every greatest golfer has different swings.

So, don't be obsessed over the "right" way to do things, no matter which field you are in. The only secret is to write your own rules.


9. Bill Gates

"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning".

As an entrepreneur, we always want to make our customers happy, that is what decides our success.

But, Bill Gates says that in order to make them happy, it is very important to first understand what makes them unhappy. That’s how we do not repeat the same mistake. 


10. Eric Schmidt

The executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, has two acronyms that he follows for sending and managing mails. These acronyms are :

  • O.H.I.O. stands for Only Hold It Once. According to him, when you see any mail which you think will take less than two minutes to respond to, respond immediately.

  • L.I.F.O. stands for Last In First Out. it says that handle newer emails first.

Read more about his thoughts over this here.


11. Walt Disney


Worrying is a common thing in humans. We panic over every small thing and the anxiety only increases when we are working on some new and important projects. We try everything to get it done perfectly.

We get worried about overthinking what if I make some mistakes or what if I’ll do something which others might not like.

Walt Disney says that the best way to quell our worries is to eliminate the worry inside our minds:

"Why worry? If you have done the very best you can, worrying won't make it any better." 


12. Elizabeth Holmes

What lesson can be better than learning one from the youngest self-made female billionaire on the planet?

Elizabeth Anne Holmes, an American businesswoman who founded Theranos has a very unique solution to worry less in life. Her solution is: wear the same thing every day, you will have one less thing to think about.

"Black turtlenecks make it easy because every day you put on the same thing and don't have to think about it—one less thing in your life."


13. Jeff Bezos

Building a business, we always try to build something which people will need in the future, but Jeff Bezos suggests instead of asking what will change, ask what won’t change over the years.

What’s going to change in the next 10 years is a common question which every person thinks about before building a business, but you will hardly find anyone thinking about what won’t change.

The second question will help you build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.


14. Mark Zuckerberg

We always try to perfect things, and in doing so, we exceed the deadline for doing things as a result, no matter how perfectly you have done it, it’s of no use.

Mark Zuckerberg, the genius behind Facebook, suggests to his team that “done is better than perfect”.

"Move fast and break things. If you're never breaking anything, you're not moving fast enough." 


15. Elon Musk

Fear of failure always stops us from doing something different and innovative. Elon Musk decided to become an entrepreneur when he was 17 years old and from that day he started to live on $1 per day, which is the typical struggle of an early-stage entrepreneur.

When asked about it, he says:

"I figured if I could live off a dollar a day then, at least from a food standpoint, it's pretty easy to earn $30 a month."

Get to know Elon Musk’s take on fear and failure.


16. Oprah Winfrey

We are living our life like a race- coming out of one meeting and entering the other, working on important projects, and in between this taking out time for friends, family, and hobbies.

Oprah Winfrey says that sometimes all we need is to slow down, gather all the positivity around us and then bounce back better.

“Sometimes in the thick of life, when my call list is longer than the day and people are lined up waiting for meeting after meeting, I just stop. I still myself. And look at a tree. A flower. The sun’s light reflecting off the window. And I remember love is available. I inhale it, exhale, and get back to work.”


17. Ralph Lauren


When designing a product, we often make mistakes, we forget about the market, and instead of creating a product according to the market's desire, we create it around our desires.

Ralph Lauren says: "The key is to tune in and pay attention to your market."

As a CEO he always followed this principle and it helped him in achieving what he is today.


18. Charles Koch

"Embrace change. Envision what could be, challenge the status quo, and drive creative destruction."

Change is the nature of life and those who embrace it, they change their lives. All of us set a goal and plan our lives accordingly, even when we know that the unexpected happens when we least expect it.

Billionaire businessman of Koch Industries, Charles Koch suggests that instead of fighting the change, welcome it with open arms and see the miracles happening.


19. Henry Ford

Most of our life is focused on impressing our society and the people around us. Yet, Henry Ford's secret mantra is not to focus on impressing others rather concentrate on building something great.

"Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."


20. Michael Bloomberg

"I dislike this concept of proficiency in education. … I've never met a Nobel Prize winner who didn’t think they had an awful lot more to learn and wasn't studying every single day."

Our whole life is a learning process and even our lives become shorter when we start learning.

Bloomberg believes that no matter how successful you become, never stop learning because that is how you become successful in the first place.


21. Giorgio Armani

Detailing in your work never goes wasted and that’s what helped Giorgio Armani create one of the most successful fashion brands.

"To create something successful, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail."

Not only him, but even Steve Jobs also used to instruct his employees to focus on every detail over and over again.


22. Reed Hastings


Have you ever wondered what made Netflix generate billions of dollars from just an online DVD rental service?

Let’s know it from the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings: 

“I take pride in making as few decisions as possible, as opposed to making as many as possible. It creates a sense in others in the company that ‘If I want to make a difference, I can make a difference.”

So, instead of focusing on the number of decisions made in a day, better focus on the quality of the fewer decisions you make.


Don’t miss out: A Must Listen - PODCasts for Entrepreneurs


23. James Cameron

To avoid failures, we avoid taking risks, but in doing so we often avoid success as well. When you take a risk, there are 50% chances of failing and the rest 50% of being successful, but if you don't take risks, you simply shut the chance of being successful.

Producer of award-winning films, such Titanic, Avatar, The Terminator, etc, James Cameron says, it's all about taking risks.

"Don't put limitations on yourself. Others will do that for you. No important endeavor that required innovation was done without risk ...." Always remember that failure is an option. But fear is not.


24. Madonna

"A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That's why they don't get what they want."

We all know about Madonna and her struggles in life. She does not have a life background one wants in life. She has become a powerful and successful woman now and one principle which made her way to the top is asking for what she wants.

If you will not ask for it, you will never get it. 


25. Eli Broad

Eli Broad is the only person to create two Fortune 500 businesses in different industries and how he managed to get there?

We are often said to be settled in life, Eli Broad has a very opposite take over this. He says, “Never settle, keep moving”.

"Someone once told me I'm a sore winner, and they're right. I rarely take more than a moment to enjoy success before I'm moving on and looking for the next challenge."


26. Travis Kalanik

What we are often after in our life? Money. CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanik says to be obsessive over solving problems rather than making money.

Kalanik says: "Basically I have two lists when I go to work in the morning. One is what are all of the crazy awesome problems that I can solve? What is all the crazy, awesome shit that I can invent?"


27. Richard Branson

We are always told to enjoy what you do. When you are having fun at work, we become more productive.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin says, not enjoying our work is one of the worst mistakes we make.

"Fun is one of the most important - and underrated - ingredients in any successful venture. If you're not having fun, then it's probably time to call it quits and try something else."


28. Evan Spiegal


When making our way through tough times and roads, there comes a point when we want to drop that idea in-between and some of us even do it.

Snapchat CEO advises focusing on something which you can not give up!

When he turned down an offer for $3 billion from Mark Zuckerberg, everyone was surprised that how could he turn down that kind of money?

His response to this was:

“I’m asked one question most often: ‘Why didn't you sell your business? It doesn't even make money. It’s a fad. You could be on a boat right now. Everyone loves boats. What’s wrong with you?’ Someone will always have an opinion about you. Whatever you do won't ever be enough. So find something important to you. Find something that you love.”

29. Ingvar Kamprad

The CEO of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad’s success secret is to never, ever, waste resources. 

One of the most precious resources that most of us waste is time.

We know that it is an on-renewable resource and once it's gone, it's impossible to get it back, still, most of us do not understand its importance in our lives.

Ingvar Kamprad says, “Waste of resources is a mortal sin at IKEA. Ten minutes are not just one-sixth of your hourly pay; ten minutes is a piece of yourself. Divide yourself into ten units and sacrifice as few of them as possible in meaningless activities."


MUST-READ: What is the Time-Equals-Money Concept?


30. Daymond John

We are so obsessed with getting things done perfectly that we tend to hide our mistakes in that process. We think that mistakes will make us look weak, but have you ever met a person without flaws? No.

Rather most of the successful and confident people flaunt their flaws as much as they flaunt their achievements.

Daymond John, founder of FUBU and member of The Shark Tank suggests the same. He says:

"Sounding too perfect is the biggest and most common mistake I see entrepreneurs make when pitching their product. With me, you'll be more likely to get my money, or any potential investor's money, by sucking it up and talking openly about the mistakes you've made. Be real."


We, at OpenGrowth, are continually looking for trending startups in the ecosystem. If you want to know any further information about the startup ecosystem or have any mind-boggling ideas, do refer our other blogs.

Jyotsana is very keen to express her views on new topics and wants readers to remember her through her writing. She is passionate about reading and believes that words wield the power of changing the scenario and she uses them to encourage people to the best of her knowledge.