I have had the pleasure of interviewing almost 50 entrepreneurs from sharks on Shark Tank to Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, and I have to say every interview is unique and always educational.
I initially began interviewing these entrepreneurs in order to gain better insight into their lives and their road to success. And even though I was fortunate to learn from these interviews, I found it harder to relate to these extremely established entrepreneurs. In turn, I decided to turn my focus on startups. I thought my readers and I could relate better to learn from their mistakes and their successes.
So, I have spent the last few months focusing on interviewing startup founders for my book Startup Series. I had the pleasure speaking with the founders of Reddit, Indiegogo, AngelList and Kissmetrics, just to name a few. This has definitely been an eye-opening experience. From biggest accomplishments to hardest lessons learned, if there is one thing I now know for sure, it is that these founders are just like us. It took hard work and heartache to get them where they are today and the journey for the rest of us will not be much different. Here are my top five favorite tips from founders.
Best advice for young and aspiring entrepreneurs
"Just go out there and do it. Too many entrepreneurs think about how do I get started, or what do I do about this, or what's going to happen if this happens. They think way too much and they analyze instead of going out there and doing. You'll learn as you do, you're never going to be perfect, you are never going to make anything 100 percent out the door and be rich right away or whatever your goals are, solving x, y and z problems. You are going to have to pivot a lot, learn from mistakes and adapt to the market needs. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. You can't plan for everything just go out there and create."
- Neil Patel, KISSmetrics
"Not everyday is glamorous, so you better love what you're doing. Because from the outside, everything seems shiny and new but it's not. Most days you're
in a grind, your head is down, and it is not as glamorous as it seems. So you better love what you do everyday and you have to have perseverance. There is only one way to win, and its by working smart and by working hard."
- Harley Finkelstein, Shopify
"Spend your twenties collecting great people and spend your thirties leveraging those relationships.
Too often people are looking for the idea or the company early in their career, but it's really hard to pick the perfect place to start. Instead, focus on great people and you're much more likely to build a successful life advisory board. Unless you've got a startup idea you believe is going to be a big one, focus on finding great entrepreneurs to learn from early in your startup career. Surround yourself with people who can help you for the rest of your career.
There is no "magical idea" that will be it for you. If you want to be in the startup game, it's a long career and you should be looking for as many "at-bats" as possible in great situations."
- Eric Koester, Zaarly
What you would say to the younger you
"Realize that you have the right to be there. You have as much a right to make a success of your life as the next guy. Don't let anyone make you feel differently. Trust yourself that you'll find the answers you need once you jump off a cliff. All the answers are on the way down."
- Barbara Corcoran, Corcoran Group & Shark Tank
Hardest lesson learned
"Success isn't dependent on breakthrough ideas or heroic efforts. The only thing that really matters is consistent small daily action."
- Corbett Barr, Think Traffic & Fizzle
Aspiring entrepreneurs need to take advantage of the information and experiences from all of the wonderful mentors around us. There is no doubt that there are some experiences you have to live, but there are many that can learn from as well.