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How to be a Successful Entrepreneur

Most entrepreneurs will tell you their original business idea bloomed from a passion. That passion is different for all of us-a baker might love the art of cake decorating, while a hair salon owner might love the creative aspects of style. Passion can drive you to dream big and start your business; you want to love what you do and harness your passion to benefit others.

While passion may fuel the creation of many businesses, getting a business off the ground and turning it into a success requires willpower. Each day, willpower influences you in your role as an entrepreneur. It takes a lot of drive to start and run your own business. The invoices, the bills, the day-to-day grind-most of us can agree these aren’t passionate endeavors. But they must be done, even when you don’t feel like it.

The top secret to success as an entrepreneur: willpower. Don’t worry if you feel your own willpower is weak; willpower is a learned skill. Read on to learn how to beef up your willpower in order to aid your success in business, and in life.

Accept Full Responsibility

According to author Katie Morton, “People with extraordinary willpower fully accept the statement, “˜I alone am responsible for my actions, my habits, and my life.’” Take responsibility and accept what you can control. That makes it easier to follow through for positive momentum for your business.

Perhaps you’re having a hair-on-fire day where nothing is going right; your marketing guru is out with the flu, the coffeepot is on the fritz, and you forgot to pay the internet provider. It’s easy to let a series of mishaps serve as an excuse to shirk responsibility. It’s not the mishaps or the bad days that are the problem-everyone has those – it’s the excuses and the lack of responsibility that lead many entrepreneurs down the road to failure.

Starting your own business requires a certain fortitude. You’re the one who is ultimately responsible for your success or failure, and your decisions and actions as a business owner have a direct bearing on that. Showing up and checking tasks off your list is as necessary as creative vision and passion, despite the fact that it’s not always fun.

Learn From Mistakes

One tenet that’s true of successful CEOs: They’re human, therefore they’re flawed. Nobody’s perfect, and part of not being perfect is accepting mistakes. Learning how to succeed, despite making mistakes, is a willpower secret all great entrepreneurs must learn. It worked for Steve Jobs; it can work for you.

The temptation, of course, is to sweep mistakes under the rug. It’s a natural human tendency to want to put failure behind us as quickly as possible. But in order to succeed, it’s critical you explore your past mistakes. Don’t dwell on the negative; instead, use constructive thinking to effectuate change and learn from your experiences.

Making mistakes is scary, without a doubt; especially in the context of business when so much of your future is on the line. The biggest mistake, however, is allowing mistakes to paralyze you. Use your experience to power your future. Analyze what went wrong and how you can do better next time. The goal is not perfection, but growth and positive change.

Be Comfortable With Discomfort

As an entrepreneur, you’ll experience some discomfort as your business grows. This may mean lean finances, long hours, or multiple sales calls rejections.

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to tolerate a certain level of discomfort requires willpower. Learning how to work effectively, even in less-than-stellar circumstances, helps you and your business grow.

Rise to Meet Challenges

Obstacles are the rule, not the exception, when you’re running your own business. Instead of giving into inertia, using willpower to overcome obstacles may open doors of opportunity you never could have foreseen.

The idea for Dropbox came from overcoming an obstacle as Drew Houston recounts, “I could see my USB drive sitting on my desk at home, which meant I couldn’t work. I sulked for 15 minutes and then, like any self-respecting engineer, I started writing some code. I had no idea what it would eventually become.” Houston solved a problem and turned his idea into a billion dollar international brand.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

You may be thinking emotions have no place in business. That’s not entirely true; you’re a business owner, not a robot. Companies are made up of humans and all the associated emotions that come as part of that package. To expect yourself to be able to shut down all emotion in a business context is simply not realistic, nor is it an effective means of achieving success.

To quote Albert Einstein, “Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” Knowing that something feels “wrong” or “off” might be the first step in moving toward a solution that feels right. If you’re busy trying to get things done while ignoring your gut, you might not realize it when you miss the mark or work towards the wrong goals.

Use Others’ Success to Fuel Your Own

Keeping up with the Joneses is a sure-fire way to make yourself feel dissatisfied with any level of success you achieve. There will always be someone who has something shinier, newer, or bigger. Constant comparison sets you up on a hamster wheel of discontent.

One way to reframe this type of thinking into something action-oriented is to use others’ success to light your own fire. Use willpower to emulate the skills and behaviors you admire. Don’t waste precious energy on envy; instead, channel that energy toward moving toward your own goals.

Above All, Practice Tenacity

Part of exercising willpower is avoiding the desire to throw in the towel when the going gets tough. Use creative problem solving to work your way through problems, rather than quitting.

As with anything worth doing, strengthening your willpower skills takes time. If you practice these principals despite setbacks, you’ll be well on your way to developing the willpower skills you need to succeed as an entrepreneur.

 

Originally posted on Accion

6 Ways Entrepreneurs Solve Problems Differently Than Other Professionals

6 Ways Entrepreneurs Solve Problems Differently Than Other Professionals

Problem-solving is one of the most important aspects of entrepreneurship. As both the founder of your organization and the leader of your team, you’ll be responsible for identifying and solve problems of your customers, partners, employees and your company, in general.

The question might be posed as to whether successful entrepreneur-problem-solvers use their natural talents to find success, or whether those skills are cultivated after years of experience. But, either way, I would maintain that successful entrepreneurs think about and solve problems differently from most other professionals.

How is this problem solving process distinctive, and how can you apply that difference to your own work habits? And what’s different about entrepreneurs-as-problem-solvers in the first place? Here are six ways:

1.They identify problems first.

Some people think of entrepreneurial types as creative inventors; given a blank canvas, they can come up with a product that people will love. But that’s not usually the case. Instead, the most successful entrepreneurs are those who first identify a key problem in the market, then work to solve that problem.

Airbnb, for example, started when its two founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, realized that two problems existed in the same business area; one, they themselves were having trouble affording rent in New York; and two, nearly all the hotel rooms in the city were consistently booked. Those founders didn’t come up with their idea out of thin air; they recognized two key problems, and devised a solution to solve both simultaneously.

2.They stay calm.

According to a study by TalentSmart, 90 percent of top performers are able to manage their emotions successfully when they experience high levels of stress. This isn’t a coincidence: When you allow your emotions to get the better of you when facing a problem, you subject yourself to reactive decision-making, and lose touch with your logical side. Accordingly, you make poorer decisions, and in some cases, may look bad in front of your employees.

Of course, “staying calm” when you face a major issue is, itself, a major issue. It takes years of practice and self-discipline to learn how to prevent your emotions from taking over. You need the kind of perspective that only high-stress experiences can give you. That perspective? No problem, by itself, is unconquerable or incapable of being solved through alternative approaches.

3.They start with the general and work toward the specific.

When addressing a problem, most people get caught up in the details, but successful entrepreneur-strategists tend to think about problems more generally before working down to the specific details. For example, if entrepreneurs’ cars break down on the side of the road, they aren’t immediately concerned with the peculiarities of the engine that led to its malfunction; instead, they recognize that the car isn’t drivable, and work to get it to the shoulder — and safety.

This approach helps you see the high-level nature (and consequences) of your current problem, giving you a reliable context for solving it.

4.They adapt.

Successful entrepreneurs are also willing to adapt to solve a problem; they aren’t beholden to the image, processes or lines of thinking that got them into the problem in the first place.

For example, Nokia — probably best known as the top cell phone provider in the world between 1998 and 2012 — started out as a paper company that later transitioned to producing rubber tires and galoshes (as the needs of its customers changed). When the demand rose for military and emergency service radio phones, Nokia transitioned again and started making those devices, eventually selling off its paper and rubber divisions.

In short, faced with changing available resources, market demand and competition, Nokia reinvented itself rather than remaining stagnant or applying old rubrics to new problems.

5.They delegate and distribute.

Entrepreneurs also know they aren’t the most effective problem-solvers on their own; instead, most problems are best handed over to specialists who better understand those problems. Accordingly, when an entrepreneur faces a tough decision or a difficult situation, he or she typically delegates the judgment needed to an expert and calls in help to carry out that expert’s solution as efficiently as possible.

Entrepreneurs also aren’t afraid to delegate authority to the internal hires they trust, and aren’t hesitant to spend money on external firms and consultants if that solution will solve the problem faster and more efficiently.

6.They measure outcomes and reflect.

Successful entrepreneurs actually do more than just solve the problem. After applying a fix, they spend time measuring the results of their efforts with analytics tools, and reflecting on those outcomes. Learning from the approach they’ve chosen, whether it turns out to be a success or failure, is what equips them to make even better decisions in the future.

So, if you aren’t an entrepreneur in your own right, there’s much you can gain from adopting the problem-solving tactics of someone who is — someone who’s a success at both entrepreneurship and decision-making.

Applying different modes of thinking and new leadership styles, and being open to more potential problem-solving options are the strategies that will help you solve problems more thoroughly, and reap better long-term results.

Originally posted on Entrepreneurs.com by Jayson DeMers

Nutrition for Entrepreneurial Business Success

Nutrition for Entrepreneurial Business Success

With more than 100,000 papers published on nutrition in the peer-reviewed medical literature each year, it’s hard to keep up. And for every positive effect, there was a reported negative one, or a case study showing an adverse response to the plan. One minute, scientists say carbs are bad; the next they proclaim that carbs are good.

Any meal plan must be personalized to ensure we each have the energy we need to not just feel good but feel great, and have the energy to pursue our goals and navigate this minefield called life. This personalization will increase the likelihood of successfully following the plan and eating in a way that benefits us.

But regardless of the dietary protocol you choose, to improve mood, memory and drive, the following are a few key factors that must be included and then tweaked to match your individual response to various foods:

Remove sugar and processed food from your diet.

This will help rid the body and brain of toxins and inflammation.

Eat foods that increase your microbiome’s diversity.

This includes fermented foods that populate your gut with healthy bacteria (e.g., pickles, kimchi, unprocessed yogurt, and kombucha). These foods are rich in prebiotics. Prebiotics feed probiotics and encourage the growth of healthy bacteria. Prebiotic fiber is a type of carbohydrate that we do not digest, but our gut bacteria thrive on and you can supplement your diet with a prebiotic fiber. This has been particularly useful in curbing my afternoon cravings — I no longer experience a midafternoon crash as a result, and it helps me maintain my weight by preventing me from snacking too much.

Eliminate foods that cause you discomfort.

includes any food you’re sensitive to that causes constipation, diarrhea, sluggishness, brain fog, headaches, fatigue or mood changes. For greater insight, have a food sensitivity test done.

Repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria.

You can do this by consuming the right kind of probiotics.

Fuel up with fats.

This can help curb your cravings and reduce the midafternoon energy slump.

Eat anti-inflammatory foods.

This includes green leafy vegetables, beets, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, celery, chia seeds, coconut oil, flaxseed, ginger, pineapple, salmon, turmeric, and walnuts. Exclude any foods that cause you sensitivity.

Eat diverse organic fruits and vegetables.

This will increase microbi­ome diversity and promote overall gut health.

Drink filtered water.

Much is still unknown about the impact chemicals like chlorine can have on our delicate gut microbiome. Filtration is crucial regardless of where you live to prevent unnecessary exposure to toxins from rusty pipes or compromised water supplies.

Switch trans fats and vegetable oils for olive, avocado or grapeseed oil.

One study found the participants who took in the most trans fats increased their risk of depression by 48 percent. Trans fats are often hidden in highly processed foods at the supermarket and used to deep fry food at various fast-food chains.

Consume more omega-3 and less omega-6.

Both are essential fatty acids important for good health, but we need them in the right balance to help protect our joints, pancreas, heart, skin and mood stability. Too much omega-6, which we consume in corn and vegetable oils, can cause the body to retain water and raise blood pressure, which could lead to blood clots, thus raising the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Consume foods with antifungal properties.

This includes cayenne pep­per, coconut oil, garlic, ginger, lemons, limes, olive oil, onions, pumpkin seeds and rutabaga to help fight off bad gut bacteria. Don’t consume any foods that you’re sensitive or allergic to. Find substitutes that work for you.

Keep activated charcoal on hand.

Activated charcoal can assist by binding itself to toxins, which are then excreted by the body. Activated charcoal has been used for years in emergency rooms for certain kinds of poisoning, including alcohol. It helps prevent the poison from being absorbed from the stomach into the body. It can also assist with gas, bloating and even lowering cholesterol.

Practice intermittent fasting (IF).

It’s widely reported that IF is effective for weight loss, inflammation reduction and boosting brain power by increasing ketones. It’s a pattern of eating, not a diet. It doesn’t change what you eat so much as when you eat. Instead of consuming food all day long, you eat within a set window of time. The most popular protocol is to eat for eight hours per day and fast for 16. According to Mark Mattson, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University, fasting has been shown to increase rates of neurogen­esis (the growth and development of new brain cells and nerve tissues) in the brain. Higher rates of neurogenesis are linked to increased brain performance, memory, mood and focus. It has also been shown to boost production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF is considered “Miracle-Gro for your brain” and plays a role in neuroplasticity, which makes your brain more resilient to stress and adaptable to change.

By following these easy-to-apply guidelines, you’ll begin to notice a significant change in your energy levels, as well as your mental clarity.

 

This excerpt is from Ben Angel’s book Unstoppable: A 90-Day Plan to Biohack Your Mind and Body for Success

How To Stay Focused As An Entrepreneur

How To Stay Focused As An Entrepreneur

The part of every entrepreneur’s DNA that allows her to dream big and envision a world where her creation impacts countless lives and generates incredible wealth is the very thing that can lead to failure. Especially in the early days of working on something, every new opportunity can feel like the one that will change everything. Many founders get caught in the cycle of chasing shiny objects, but when resources are limited and it’s a race against time this can be detrimental. Here’s how you can avoid this classic entrepreneur’s dilemma.

Stay focused on the path of least resistance

Some problems are inherently harder to solve, some markets are more difficult to compete in, and some customer segments take longer to educate and convince of your value proposition. Serial entrepreneurs know this all too well. You can spend months, even years trying to generate revenue for one business and then start another business with money and customers in the first 4 weeks.

Paypal started off as a company called Confinity that allowed people to send IOUs from Palm Pilot to Palm Pilot. The relatively niche market didn’t adopt their technology fast enough, so they pivoted to creating a payment system aimed specifically for the web so that one person could email money to another. People were just starting to spend more money online with the rising popularity of ecommerce sites like eBay, making this demographic an easy target for Paypal.

Especially if you’re trying to gain early revenue traction, it’s easy to fall into the trap of attempting to sell to any customer that will buy. The truth is, some customers are a better fit, both in terms of revenue opportunity and cost, and thus are more important to spend your time on. Others can seem promising but will never actually materialize into real revenue. Double down where you think you’re likely to have the most traction and ignore everything else – it’s a distraction.

Stay focused on where you can build value the fastest

Surviving the early days means creating massive value for a specific customer segment whose pain is not being addressed. You might have a big grandiose vision of how your company will change the world, but you will not win by trying to solve everyone’s problems.

Apple didn’t start by creating products that can be used by anyone – they first built for computer hobbyists that loved to tinker with electronics. Amazon wasn’t always a place where you can buy almost any product imaginable. They first focused on disrupting the online book sales market.

Almost every successful business started off doing something niche. Figure out an area where you can quickly create value for your customer that your competition is ignoring, and avoid working on things that aren’t critical to this goal.

Recognize When Something Isn’t Working

This sounds contrary to the idea of staying focused on one main path, but it’s equally important to recognize when something just won’t work. Entrepreneurship is full of ups and downs, and it is true that sometimes you can spend months grinding away at something without a reward. However, if you go too long without experiencing any ‘wins’ it can be very difficult to keep moving forward. More importantly, it can be a sign that you need to course correct.

It’s difficult to admit that you’re wrong, especially when you’ve invested a lot of time into trying to make something work, but it’s even harder if you’re forced to admit defeat and close your business because you’ve wasted too much time doing the wrong things. Change something about your approach if you’ve been fighting an uphill battle for too long, whether it’s your core value proposition, target customer base or customer acquisition channel, and hopefully you’ll finally start to see some positive indicators.

Simon Sinek wisely said that “vision is a destination – a fixed point to which we focus all effort. Strategy is a route – an adaptable path to get us where we want to go.” Your strategy will change as you learn new information while working toward your goal, but your vision should stand firm, unaffected by distractions that might come your way.

Originally posted on Forbes by Sergei Revzin and Vadim Revzin

 

I Survived September 11, but My Business Didn’t. What I Learned From Rebuilding.

I Survived September 11, but My Business Didn’t. What I Learned From Rebuilding.

On this anniversary of the day that changed the course of American history, I must reflect on how September 11, 2001, changed me both as a person and a businessman.

Seventeen years ago, I was running my first business, AbraCadabra Digital Printing on the 18th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower in New York City. Business was booming. We were generating about $4 million a year with 30 employees and five locations across New York and New Jersey.

I was finishing up a meeting with my business manager when the first plane hit the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. Seventeen minutes later, we were standing on the streets of New York as the second plane crashed into the building where we had just stood.

Following the events of 9/11, my once thriving business suffered as many others did at the time. My sales plummeted to $600,000 in 2003. I finally sold the business in 2004 for $325,000.

Seeing so many lives destroyed and losing my business was a major setback for me both professionally and personally that, ultimately, taught me a number of enduring lessons about perseverance, rebuilding from the ashes and the importance of consistently reinvesting in myself. Although it is hard for anyone who was not there to relate to the extreme tragedy experienced on 9/11, the lessons I learned can apply to turning around any struggling business and to every entrepreneur looking to start again with a new venture.

Recognize when it’s time to let go and start over.

Business in New York was dead after 9/11. Our most profitable branch had been destroyed and the business was suffering immensely. I had a family to care for and had to let go employees who I’d been working with for years. When my business revenues dropped to just 30 percent of what they’d been just years before, I knew it was time to let this venture go.

Business owners and business persons alike often make the mistake of holding on to what they know, when letting go could be their best shot at future success. As a business owner, when you see your business is failing and know the chances of it improving in the foreseeable future are slim, it’s imperative to know it’s time to move on.

This means reinventing yourself and reinventing your business — not quitting entrepreneurship for good. Stay in the same field of business if that’s what you’re passionate about, but find that new sweet spot with a brighter, clearer future that gets new energy moving and reignites the excitement behind the business.

When I decided to sell AbraCadabra Digital Printing and join Cartridge Word, I was entering into somewhat unknown territory. I’d known very little about franchising, advertising such products, the top competitors in the industry, etc., but I made the bold move to purchase the franchise rights to Cartridge World when there were zero U.S. locations. Now there are 287, of which 70 are mine. Sometimes letting go of smaller ventures can lead you to greener pastures.

Reinvest in yourself.

As an entrepreneur, you are your biggest asset. You are the driving force behind the business; therefore, you should always seek to learn as much as you can about your business and industry for when big decisions need to be made.

Make the time to take additional courses throughout the year to learn and grow. Whether it be a business course on the latest techniques or technology, or a marketing and advertising course covering modern trends and creativity, always work to reinvent yourself and grow your knowledge base. I typically allott five to 10 days a year to attend a courses so I keep growing and widening my capabilities.

Furthermore, have a mentor to help guide you and advise you during your business journey. As your interests or field of business change, seek new mentors who can guide you along the way. In my experience, those who’ve made it, so to speak, are typically happy to help others make their dreams come true. Do your best to return the favor. Meet with fellow entrepreneurs, learn their stories and share your own. Networking is fundamental to growing your business.

Take responsibility for your business.

Whether times are good or bad, you need to realize that the state of your business is a reflection of how you, and you alone, are running the business. If times are bad, but you insist on running your business like you’ve done for the past 10 years, you can’t expect anything to change. If catastrophe strikes like it did on 9/11, be prepared to make major changes and adapt, even if that means leaving one venture behind and starting a new one.

To run a successful business, you need the energy, goals and dedication to self-improvement to keep it running and thriving. All businesses can get stale, but it is up to you as the backbone behind the company to make changes and keep the energy high.

When I decided to take one of my Cartridge World locations back to the new World Trade Center, I was the only business tenant pre-9/11 to return after the attacks. I knew this was a bold move, but a move that ignited my spirits and in turn, my business.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Greg Carafello

6 Pieces of Timeless Business Advice

6 Pieces of Timeless Business Advice

In the 2015 musical Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton is championed for furthering his career “by working a lot harder, by being a lot smarter, by being a self-starter.” In a 2016 episode of Saturday Night Live, Benjamin Franklin is featured as a fictional guest at the very first Thanksgiving. And in the 2018 Netflix original Set It Up, one character assesses his finances at an upscale restaurant: “I’m no Rockefeller.”

There’s a reason why these historical powerhouses are still regularly mentioned in theater, television and film hundreds of years after their time: They were legends when it comes to wealth, philanthropy and business. Whether you’re a top-level CEO looking for advice from the greats or a first-time entrepreneur seeking motivation and inspiration, here are six iconic figures and some of their best business advice.

Alexander Hamilton

“My ambition is prevalent, so that I contemn the grovelling condition of a clerk or the like, to which my fortune condemns me, and would willingly risk my life, though not my character, to exalt my station … I mean to prepare the way for futurity.”

— Alexander Hamilton in a 1769 letter

Hamilton was born poor on an island in the Caribbean, and he wrote this letter at age 12, dreaming of something bigger for himself and his career. By 17, when a hurricane devastated his home, the orphan — who was then working as a clerk — wrote an account of the disaster in the local newspaper. Local merchants recognized his skill and took up a collection to send him to North America for schooling. Hamilton would go on to become a founding father and champion the United States economic system, but it all started with big dreams and almost incomparable determination. Hamilton visualized himself “prepar[ing] the way for futurity,” and that type of steely resolve is invaluable in any venture.

Benjamin Franklin

“[I] retain[ed] only the habit of expressing myself in terms of modest diffidence, never using, when I advanced any thing that may possibly be disputed, the words ‘certainly,’ ‘undoubtedly’ or any others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, ‘I conceive or apprehend a thing to be so and so’; ‘it appears to me,’ or ‘I should think it so and so, for such and such reasons’; or ‘I imagine it to be so’; or ‘it is so, if I am not mistaken.’ This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me.”

— Benjamin Franklin in his 1789 autobiography

Franklin, one of the country’s founding fathers and author of The Way to Wealth, was also an esteemed inventor, as he’s widely regarded as the father of electricity. He attributes much of his success to the fact that he was always a voracious reader, so hungry for knowledge that he would often stay up with new books late into the night. He also loved to debate, and it’s why he adopted the habit of never using absolute terms unless he was describing something he knew absolutely to be true — instead, he favored phrases such as “it appears,” “I should think,” “I imagine” and “if I am not mistaken.” Franklin said it’s important to speak in such a way; otherwise, if you speak with absoluteness and are wrong, others likely won’t correct you — meaning you will not learn. This intentionality of language is vital for any prominent figure in business, especially in meetings, statements and interviews. Speaking with caveats is widely seen as a sign of intelligence, as few things in life are truly certain.

Andrew Carnegie

“We assemble thousands of operatives in the factory, and in the mine, of whom the employer can know little or nothing and to whom he is little better than a myth. All intercourse between them is at an end. Rigid castes are formed, and, as usual, mutual ignorance breeds mutual distrust. Each caste is without sympathy with the other and ready to credit anything disparaging in regard to it … Often there is friction between the employer and the employed, between capital and labor, between rich and poor.”

— Andrew Carnegie in his 1889 book

In The Gospel of Wealth, Carnegie laid out why he would be donating the bulk of his earnings — about $350 million in 1889 dollars — to universities, libraries and other organizations. But in this passage, the steel magnate, business leader and philanthropist addresses the dark side of capitalism. Although Carnegie goes on to say he believes the benefits of competition outweigh the negatives, he admits that the disconnect it can create between employer and employees — and between the wealthy and the working class — is significant. Any successful executive would do well to note this and use their influence to turn the idea on its head, staying relatively accessible to both employees and customers.

John D. Rockefeller

“Criticism which is deliberate, sober and fair is always valuable, and it should be welcomed by all who desire progress. I have had at least my full share of adverse criticism, but I can truly say that it has not embittered me nor left me with any harsh feeling against a living soul. Nor do I wish to be critical of those whose conscientious judgment, frankly expressed, differs from my own. No matter how noisy the pessimists may be, we know that the world is getting better steadily and rapidly, and that is a good thing to remember in our moments of depression or humiliation.”

— John D. Rockefeller in his 1909 book

Rockefeller was an oil magnate, prominent businessman and philanthropist, and one lasting part of his legacy was his status as one of the wealthiest men in history and America’s first billionaire. In 1918, he was worth $1.2 billion, but that would amount to $21 billion in 2017 dollars. But Rockefeller didn’t build his legendary Standard Oil worrying about naysayers. He took measured criticism into account and used it to propel himself towards his goals, but he strived never to let “adverse criticism” drain him of his time or energy. Any business leader would do well to listen to every piece of advice without letting it sidetrack them from their ultimate goals — in other words, take others’ advice with a “grain of salt.”

Madam C.J. Walker

“I am a woman that came from the cotton fields of the south. I was promoted from there to the washtub. Then I was promoted to the cook kitchen, and from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations … I have built my own factory on my own ground.”

— Madam C.J. Walker in a 1912 speech

Widely regarded to be the country’s first female self-made millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) made her fortune by way of a successful line of hair care products marketed towards black women. The hair care system she developed — which utilized a combination of lotions and the use of iron combs — would later be deemed the “Walker system,” and her talent for self-promotion garnered loyalty from both her customers and the thousands of door-to-door saleswomen she trained. But Walker’s origins — as the first child born free to parents who were both recently freed slaves — meant she had to work much harder to build her business than her contemporaries, and she started with just $1.50 in cash capital. “The girls and women of our race must not be afraid to take hold of business endeavor and, by patient industry, close economy, determined effort and close application to business, wring success out of a number of business opportunities that lie at their very doors,” she said in the same speech.

Henry Ford

“Power and machinery, money and goods, are useful only as they set us free to live. They are but means to an end. For instance, I do not consider the machines which bear my name simply as machines. If that was all there was to it I would do something else. I take them as concrete evidence of the working out of a theory of business which I hope is something more than a theory of business — a theory that looks toward making this world a better place in which to live.”

— Henry Ford in his 1922 book

Ford was a business magnate, mass production innovator and founder of Ford Motor Company. His Model T Ford is widely regarded as having brought affordable automobiles to the everyday consumer, as 15 million were sold between 1908 and 1927. While Ford enjoyed notable wealth — his 1918 fortune of $100 million would equal $1.8 billion today — he felt it vital to impart that money is only a means to freedom and, outside of that purpose, it means nothing. He felt similarly about business in general — that any venture should ultimately be about making the world a “better place in which to live.” Adopting that very value could help propel the long-term success of any business leader.

 

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur by Hayden Field

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