To be a successful entrepreneur and leader doesn't always mean you need a university degree. Today successful entrepreneurs come from many different walks of life. They also represent various industries, products, brands, generations and cultures - when you think about it and consider all the different successful business leaders and how they got there, it's pretty cool.
Diversity and backgrounds aside, successful entrepreneurs and leaders have at least one thing in common, and that's the massive learning curves that they've had to endure along the way on the road to their success.
A successful leadership career or rise to fame through entrepreneurial talent doesn't come without a few failures or hard lessons learned. A great analogy to compare it to is that of a rollercoaster. Yes, I know it's very cliché, but to be a successful leader, entrepreneur or anything else for that matter comes with its ups and downs.
1 - It's Not Just The Money
To many of us, the irony of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, stating it's not all about the money may be a bit hard to swallow and believe. But with Facebook now being a multi-billionaire company, it hasn't always been. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg had the courage to turn down Terry Semel's (Yahoo CEO) of a billion US dollars back in the day for the sale of Facebook.
Seriously, do you know anyone who'd do that?
There are very few people that would actually turn their back on an offer of a billion dollars, but Zuckerberg did. He made the bold decision to continue, take the risk, and it's paid off.
Zuckerberg didn't become an entrepreneurial success overnight. It took him day and night for many years to achieve success and create one of the world's largest social networks ever.
He was once famously quoted as saying, "The question I ask myself like almost every day is, 'Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?'...Unless I feel like I'm working on the most important problem that I can help with, then I'm not going to feel good about how I'm spending my time."
Takeaway: Yeah money's great and let's not even start on a billion dollars, but you shouldn't allow it to motivate you. True success comes from a strong clear vision, an exemplary work ethic, and the desire to feel like you're doing the best.
2 - Follow your Passion
From a young age we're often conditioned into thinking that we should follow our hearts, but when it comes to making money, it's very easy to push those core values aside and forget we were ever told them. But it's important to remember this - chasing quick money making opportunities will sooner or later lead to failure.
Why? The answer's simple - your lack of engagement.
To become a successful entrepreneur, leader or businessperson, you must be motivated by the desire to learn. To be successful, it's essential to focus on only the things that you're truly passionate about, good at, or something that you're willing to put in the work to master.
A great example of this is from the founder of the Virgin Group and serial entrepreneur Richard Branson. His key advice to budding entrepreneurs is to build upon your own personal annoyances and ask yourself what would you do to make it a better experience? Branson believes that some of his best business ideas have come from his or people he knows bad experiences.
Takeaway: Don't try and become rich quick from a half-hearted idea or a get-rich quick scheme. Believe in the concept and build off it.
3 - Forget the Haters
Haters are going to hate, but there're always going to be haters no matter what. People will be quick to dismiss or criticize your ideas, and this is something that the successful entrepreneur and media icon Arianna Huffington knows well.
Like Branson, she believes you've got to really love your business and believe in it, because not everyone's going to fall in love with it like you do.
She first handedly experienced many haters when she initially launched The Huffington Post back in 2005. It was even described as an "unsurvivable failure". But despite all the naysayers, she persevered and followed through with what she believed in - and the result was amazing! She managed to create one of the world's leading online publications for news and information.
Takeaway: To find true business success as an entrepreneur in a very competitive market you need a thick skin, and if you don't have one, you better develop it quick. Perseverance in business is key if you want results.
4 - Always be Quick and Continue Moving Forward
Once touted the richest man in the world, Bill Gates could've happily thrown in the towel after his first few Microsoft successes and still remain mega rich for the rest of his life.
A Harvard dropout, Bill Gates didn't let his university failure stop him from moving forward along the entrepreneurial road to success. He'd always wanted to follow his dreams of setting up his own software house, which is exactly what he did.
Gates once described many of his competitors as "one-product wonders". They'd create the product, make the quick money, and that would be it. Gates saw this as an opportunity to jump in and move fast, and as a result he created the most trusted software company in the world by continuously releasing newer, more advanced and safer versions of Windows.
Takeaway: Cease every opportunity and remain focused on the game. You should always be looking for new ways to make more of an impact and develop your product or brand further.
5 - Mindset Matters
You've heard of the age-old adage 'Mind over matter' - of course you have. It's one of my favorites, and one Tony Robbins too.
No matter what your business is, the psychology behind it and your own psychology are way more important. Developing the right mindset is 100% necessary for your success.
According to Robbins, the plan or awesome concept is simply not enough! As an advocator of the whole mind over matter thing, it's really no surprise that Robbins believes success is down to 80% of the mind and just a mere 20% down to the idea.
Overcoming the things that scare the hell out of you, having that all-important thick skin and the wanting desperately to achieve all your goals despite the obstacles will help bring you closer to the sweet smell of success.
Takeaway: Focus more on your own mindset and become that person who is hungry for it otherwise those hungrier ones are always going to come out on top, even though your concept might be better on paper.
6 - Let Failure be a Lesson
When people fail, they'll often quit or try their hands at some other pipe dream, often failing again having not learned from their previous business mistakes.
There have been countless failures in the world of entrepreneurs that have later become massive entrepreneurial successes. Walt Disney was one - as a young man he was fired from a newspaper for not being creative enough, only to then move on to create the most imaginative world of fantasy for young and the young at heart. Spielberg had a similar story. Rejected from a prestigious film school, not once but twice, he soon moved on to become one of the most successful directors ever. Even the multi-millionaire queen of daytime TV, Oprah, was fired from her first TV gig as an anchorwoman.
Disney once summed up the moral of the story well. "I think it's important to have a good hard failure when you're young because it makes you aware of what can happen to you. Because of it, I've never had any fear in my whole life when we've been near collapse."
Takeaway: Use fear and failure as a motivator; don't let it cripple you. Focus on the wins, and when a critic gives you the feedback to your face instead of behind your back, take it on board and use that to your advantage.
Every single successful entrepreneur has countless entrepreneurial lessons to share. One thing they all have in common other than various setbacks along the way is their sheer determination to take risks. Sometimes you have to think from other perspectives and look at the business as a whole without getting too emotionally involved. Another massive takeaway from this is business success and climbing the career ladder isn't instantaneous. A true businessperson knows this and has the right mindset to tackle every problem along the way - it's about looking for remedies rather than problems because you never really lose in business; either you kick ass and win or you learn.