Billionaire business owners have already made the mistakes for you and are happy to dish out advice from their own tough lessons. You only have so many years to build your empire--why spend them learning the hard way what successful predecessors already have? Consider the "business rules" from billionaires the foundation for your own strategies and approaches. It's like having them on your board without having to woo them.

Of course, the same rules aren't going to necessarily apply to you or your business. These billionaires are different people, they have a different business with different circumstances, and they learned their lessons in a different time. It's all about adapting the rules to fit your agenda. Consider these key "rules" from some of the world's most wealthy a stepping stone on your way to success.

1. Davis Rubenstein, Financier

"Persist--don't take no for an answer. If you're happy to sit at your desk and not take any risk, you'll be sitting at your desk for the next 20 years." This is perhaps the first rule of business that applies no matter what. Without determination and ambition (along with a peppering of innovation) you're not going to get rich and you're certainly not going to head a successful business.

2. Carl Ichan, Businessman, Shareholder and Investor

"The cardinal rule is to have enough capital at the end of the day." Yes, taking risks in business is a must, but you have to keep some stability (and cold hard cash) as your safety net. Without capital, you're not going anywhere. For many business owners, getting capital is by far the most frustrating part and there aren't angel investors on every corner. Pursue every option from bank loans to asking family and friends. You never know who might say yes.

3. Mark Cuban, Investor

"What I've learned is that if you really want to be successful at something, you'll find that you put the time in. You won't just ask somebody if it's a good idea, you'll go figure out if it's a good idea." There's that idea of hard work and persistence again, just wrapped up in another package. Cuban, one of the staples on "Shark Tank" is one of the richest men in the world and he credits effort with his success. Don't second guess yourself, and remember that trial and error is the best teacher.

4. William O'Neil, Investor and Business Magnate

"When you make a mistake in the stock market, the only sound thing to do is correct it. Pride and ego never pay off; neither does vacillation when losses start to show up." Pride is the downfall of many entrepreneurs, and it's human nature to want to cover up your mistakes and embrace ignorance instead of knowledge. Whether it's the stock market or your own business misstep, owning up to things and learning from them is the only way to move forward.

5. John Neff, Mutual Fund Investor

"Conventional wisdom and preconceived notions are stumbling blocks as well as signs of opportunity." In a time when just about every successful person is telling you to think outside the box, Neff isn't so quick to write off tradition and assumptions. Yes, he admits they can be obstacles, but they're staples for a reason. Don't be so quick to overlook something just because it seems obvious.

However, the most important rule of all is to make your own based on research, experience and what you glean from the greats. Innovation is at the heart of getting rich, but it's not without using the past as a framework.

Published on: Sep 18, 2014
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.