Founders and entrepreneurs seeking inspiration don't have to look very far. There are heroes in every industry who, whether they are known for their professional savvy or their personal philanthropy, share pearls of wisdom as they run their empires.
These six entrepreneurs share advice inspired by the entrepreneurs they admire most -- and explain how they have incorporated these wise words and actions into their own businesses.
Consider the long term.
The best entrepreneurs possess foresight on the next big thing -- and then capitalize on it. Charles Bogoian, co-founder and COO of sportswear brand Kenai Sports, applies this big-picture thinking when he's looking ahead for his business.
"I admire Jeff Bezos as a tech visionary who understood the potential of the internet before almost everyone else, but I am equally impressed with his ability to make decisions focused on long-term 'fit,'" he says. "I recently made it a practice to project the effects of important business decisions at least 1-2 years in advance; this has helped me become more levelheaded."
Find fulfillment by giving back.
Engelo Rumora, owner of real estate brokerage List'n Sell Realty, knows that success doesn't mean anything if you aren't fulfilled by it. So, what better way to achieve fulfillment than by giving some of the fruits of your labor back to the community?
"Over the years, Chuck Feeney, founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, has anonymously given away billions of dollars. After reading his inspirational story, I identified even more with the [Tony Robbins] quote that 'success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure,'" says Rumora. "So, I went on a quest to start my own way of giving back. Last year we gave a house away to a family in need, and I pledge to give away 100 over the next 10 years."
Have fun with it.
"I love Sir Richard Branson's enthusiasm and the passion that he puts into everything. He seems like he is having so much fun and enjoying life," says Angela Ruth, co-founder of payment solution company Due. Ruth injects this same passion into her own company culture to inspire herself and her team.
"I've applied that to my own business by ensuring that every week involves fun activities that encourage the team to see what they are doing as something more than just work," she says.
Test an idea by selling it.
Sometimes you don't know how good a product is until you see how your customers respond. Scott Kacmarski, founder and president of outsourcing company Reps Direct, puts his selling skills and his new ideas to the test by reaching out to his contacts with a pitch.
"I admire Mark Cuban because he went from starting a tech company to owning an NBA team. I also love his business philosophy of getting out there and trying to sell your product if you want to know how good it is," he says. "When I am trying to validate an idea, I simply contact people and try to sell it to them to see if I have something worth pursuing."
Remember that your customers are people.
Krish Chopra, partner at nurse practitioner placement service Nurse Practitioner Clinical Rotations, always keeps the most important business component in mind: the people. This requires thinking beyond just their business needs.
"Simon Sinek said: '100% of customers are people. 100% of employees are people. If you don't understand people, you don't understand business.' I remember listening to this advice when my most recent venture was gaining traction," says Chopra. "It helped me realize that we need to put the emotional needs of our customers first and be in the 'we have your back' business."
Keep at it until you master it.
"When I first started out, I would try a strategy for a month, assume it wasn't working and move on to the next thing. A year had passed and I got nowhere," says Ajay Paghdal, founder of link-building outreach site OutreachMama. But, as he learned, the key was putting in consistent effort.
"Neil Patel is the co-founder of several companies, including Kissmetrics and Crazy Egg. One of his keys to success is consistency," says Paghdal. "When I decided to master one thing for six months, I finally had success. Patel was the inspiration for this."