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One of the most powerful ways to keep a positive mindset and prepare yourself for your entrepreneurial journey is to listen to people who’ve been there.

When you’re starting out, you’re not only building a business – you’re also becoming a leader. To help you on this journey, we’ve cherry-picked inspiring and reassuring business lessons from some shining entrepreneurial stars.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble

You don’t have to burn the candle at both ends.

The Bumble co-founder has created an online dating space where traditional power dynamics are flipped, empowering women to make the first move. Six years post-launch and Bumble’s popularity is clear, with a community of over 100m people across six continents.

Herd says the team has rolled out a new suite of benefits to ensure that work/life balance is a priority, saying: “Your business is only as healthy and happy and successful as your team.”

She also says that companies should not wait until they are long-established before making well-being a priority because it’s not a productive long-term strategy.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Don’t bother trying to avoid mistakes.

Everybody knows Zuck.

Whether you’re a Facebook fan or not, there’s no denying that the young social media magnate and philanthropist is one of the most influential minds in business.

Zuckerberg says that it’s pointless trying to avoid making mistakes as an entrepreneur.

He says that nothing is impossible – and the most important thing is to learn quickly from the mistakes you make and not give up.

“So many things go wrong when you’re starting a company….often people ask what mistakes they should avoid making – and my answer to that is don’t even bother trying, because you’re going to make tons of mistakes.”

Brian Chesky, Airbnb

Start with the perfect experience – then scale.

Chesky’s advice is to perfect the customer experience from the get-go.

The Airbnb co-founder has built a multi-billion-dollar business from an idea to hire out an air mattress to make a bit of extra money to cover the rent.

Chesky says: “The perfect methodology is to start with the experience of just one person, get that right and then figure out how to scale something great, instead of trying to scale something not so great and then improve it – that’s really hard to do.”

Brian Chesky AirBnb

Sara Blakely, Spanx

Confide in the right person.

Sara created Spanx and became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. She warns entrepreneurs against the urge to solicit feedback on their idea or product just for validation purposes.

She says you want to be sure you’re asking people who can drive your business forward and to avoid asking friends, your spouse or anyone close to you:

“Be careful, because out of love…a lot of people will express concerns, and it can stop a lot of multi-million dollar ideas right in their tracks in the beginning.”

Michael Dell, Dell Technologies

Discover customers’ unsolved problems and find a solution.

Michael Dell is the founder, chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies.

He says the key questions entrepreneurs must ask themselves are:

  • What are my customers’ problems?
  • How can I provide a solution and create value for them?
  • How do we inspire and engage our teams to be excited about the mission?
  • What can we do to get organised and execute to deliver?

“It’s important to have a purpose and idea that you’re pursuing that people believe in…when you put all that together and you’re part of the industry or society that is meaningfully contributing, people are energised by it.”

Michael Dell

Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn

Your competitive advantage is not your business idea.

Reid Garrett Hoffman is an American internet entrepreneur, influencer, venture capitalist and podcaster.

He played a pivotal role in the success of PayPal and is the co-founder of the business social network, LinkedIn.

Hoffman suggests that budding entrepreneurs should combat the classic impulse to hide their business idea because it’s almost always a mistake:

“Go talk to people…your real competitive advantage is not that you have this idea…your actual competitive advantage is if you’re assembling the intelligence…does this idea work, what is the right team, what are the learnings?”

Richard Branson, Virgin Group

If you praise people, they flourish.

Branson has set up hundreds of companies, including famous brands like Virgin Media and Virgin Money.

His top tip is to never lose sight of the fact that a company is “simply a group of people, and, as a leader of people, you have to be a great listener, and you have to be a great motivator. You have to be very good at praising and looking for the best in people…if you praise people they flourish, and that’s a critical attribute of a leader.”

Richard Branson

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