By Meredith Wood
When you’re growing a business, often the best advice you can get is from those that have already experienced success. Accomplished CEOs and entrepreneurs have been in your shoes, after all. Here is some of our favorite “tidbits” of wisdom from the great minds behind today’s biggest companies.
1. Follow Your Heart…
“Do what you love, and the rest will come.” – Dennis Crowley, CEO, Foursquare
Dennis Crowley’s mom gave him this bit of advice and he has used it to launch two wildly successful businesses, Dodgeball and Foursquare. He states that, “All of these [concepts] started as me working in my apartment building on something I thought would be cool.All are projects that turned into products that turned into companies.”
“In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.” –
Howard Schultz, CEO, Starbucks
Starbucks began back in 1971 as a single store in Seattle, and Howard Schultz became CEO (through acquisition) 17 years later. He loved coffee and had experienced the pleasure and romance of coffeehouses in Europe—how they were about more than just a drink, and served as a place for conversation and community. He sought to bring the importance of connection with community and customers to Starbucks and in so doing, changed the face of coffee consumption globally.
2. Risk Failure….
“I always did something that I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s a moment of ‘Wow, I’m not so sure that I can do this, and you push through those moments, it’s then that you have a breakthrough. Sometimes that’s a sign that something really great is about to happen. You’re about to grow and learn a lot more about yourself.”— Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo
Most entrepreneurs have big ideas and go for it no matter what. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo recommends pushing beyond one’s comfort level to achieve greatness.
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” — Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook
There is no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg changed the face of social media with his company Facebook. Not surprisingly, he and his team had to take many risks to build the company into what it is today. No risk is the only way to guarantee your company will remain complacent.
3. Keep Your Reputation Spotless…
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” — Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
Warren Buffett is no doubt a very successful CEO of a very successful company. Nicknamed the “Oracle of Omaha,” it’s not surprising that he is the most successful investor of the 20th century and is one of the wealthiest people in the world. Being so successful, he’s had experience with reputation, and offers some great words to live by.
“I’ve been very lucky, from the beginning. I’ve found that as long as you’re fundamentally good – as long as you’re not being bad to people – people give you a lot of room to be yourself, because being yourself is being honest. And that’s what people want to see.” — Andrew Mason, former CEO, Groupon
While Mason was let go in 2013 from Groupon, he seems to have lived by his words, as the internal memo concerning the firing stated, “Andrew’s achievements during his tenure are virtually unmatched in Internet history. Not only did he help invent the daily deals space, but he also created one of the fastest growing companies in history. But for all of us on the Board, maybe his greatest achievement is that in the face of extreme pressure and public scrutiny, he guided the company with grace and never lost sight of the things that matter most: our customers and merchants.” He has recently started the new and promising app Detour.
4. Be Passionate About What You Do…
“If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning.”– Larry Page, CEO, Google
Google is maybe the most well-known internet word in the world. CEO Larry Page recommends all business owners strive (as he did) to make a difference in the world with their company.
“Without passion, you don’t have any energy, and without energy, you simply have nothing.” — Donald Trump, Chairman and President, The Trump Organization
Donald Trump has demonstrated his continuous passion and energy in building an empire, the Trump Organization, that serves as a global leader in real estate developments, sales and marketing, and property management worth 4 billion dollars.
“Do something you’re passionate about. Do something you love. If you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you’re naturally going to succeed and a lot of other things will happen that you don’t need to worry about. There’s so many opportunities and choices that women can make—and that anyone can make—about what they do. Do something you’re passionate about. Life’s too short.”— Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors
Mary Barra is the first woman ever to head a Big 8 automaker and the largest seller in the U.S. market. She has navigated the company through some difficult times and is looking to implementing a new GM where customer trust and quality product is paramount.
5. Change with the Times
“In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.” — Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon
Amazon has sure been evolving lately. From introducing one-hour shipping, to producing its own TV shows, to expanding to hardware and competing against Apple with highly popular tablets, they are now looking to the future to launch drone delivery of products. Jeff Bezos lives by his words and is constantly looking for new ways for Amazon to evolve.
6. It’s OK to Ask for Help
“It took me a long time to understand it, but [the advice was] to ask for help and that I don’t know it all.” — Chip Wilson, Founder, Lululemon
Chip Wilson, founder of the extremely popular brand Lululemon, learned about how great help can be at a workshop he attended in 1991. He built Lululemon while he was simultaneously running another company, and so experienced first hand how beneficial it can be to trust others and share control.
7. Be Yourself
“My advice is to focus on becoming a complete person. Everyone should focus on the content of his or her job, of course. But work is not the end; it’s a means to an end. You owe it to yourself to open up to broader interests. And in the end, it will be better for your career because you will be more interesting and attractive to others.”– Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs
At the end of the day, nobody wants to do business with a robot. We all want to do business with people. Never let your job become who you are.
Do you have a favorite “bit of wisdom” you’ve read from a great entrepreneur?
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more. Follow her at @Mere_Wood.