I Asked 167 Successful Entrepreneurs How to Start a Business

Toni Koraza

Nobody can prepare you for the intensity of starting a new business.

Your life will change in ways you can’t foresee. I started two companies in my 20s, and those two companies improved my life.

Sometimes, having the right insights can help you choose your direction. And most aspiring entrepreneurs need a starting point. So, I’ve asked around.

Serial entrepreneurs’ advice on how to start a business

I’ve sent out two questions to thousands of serial entrepreneurs.

  1. What trait can help aspiring entrepreneurs start a business?
  2. What general advice would you give to people looking to become entrepreneurs?

And 165 replies came back. Here are 32 of my personal favorites.

1. Insight from Shark Tank Entrepreneur and CEO of $30M Brands

Brian Lim and Brandon Chopp from Shark Tank-winning companies iHeartRaves & INTO THE AM, answer first:

“As a business owner, the ability to deal with ambiguity and to synthesize an educated decision is an absolute must. There is no playbook for success when starting your own company and therefore you are often in a position where you have limited information and you need to make a decision. You can spend time gathering more intel, punt on the decision, or make a decision with the information you have.
Another important key trait would be the successful art of delegation. I like to describe what the problem is and what the end result looks like and allow other team members to share in the solution. Oftentimes, business owners push their solutions onto their employees and get upset when they seemingly have to do everything.”

For extra context, Brian Lim accepted deals from Mark Cuban and Daymond John. And Robert Herjavec called him the “best entrepreneur” in the show’s history. So, this is flaming hot advice.

2. Thoughts from the founder at PaintRite Pros

Chris Gardner seems to be the man behind the most beautifully painted homes in Sacramento. His business, PintRitePros, unites residents and professional painters. Here’s Chris’s advice.

“Don’t wait for the perfect time to start. Getting started holds so many entrepreneurs back because they feel like things have to be perfect. You should be prepared but also know that you start. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect.”

3. Founder at American Singles Golf Association (ASGA) has incredibly hands-on advice

Tom Alsop has been the founder and president of ASGA for almost 3 decades. Here’s his incredible advice on how to start a business:

“Make a list of things that irritate you every day. Try to get 10 things on your list. At the end of the week when you might have 50–60 things on your list, a figure which one would irritate the most number of other people and come up with a solution, a product, a service. Things take off once you fulfill a real need, something people really want and are willing to pay for.”

4. Wise advice from a YouTuber with 353,000 subscribers

Charlie Chang is a YouTuber that knows a thing or two about running several businesses and investing his hard-earned money. Here are Charlie’s two cents.

“Try every side hustle in every niche that you are interested in. I always tell people to start with a service-based business — such as consulting, tutoring, freelancing — anything where you are trading your time for money. This requires very little to no capital to start, and it will get your entrepreneurial juices flowing. That’s exactly what I did, and I ended up finding my passions after a few years.”

5. Interlock’s and Lionfinch’s founder and co-owner at Happy Happy Planet on the value of feedback

Spencer Brown is the man behind Lionfinch, Interlock, and Happy Happy Planet. Here’s his take.

“Do not have your friends and family validate your business aspirations. They are biased by their relationship and will sugar coat their advice. Seek out the end user-consumer and ask them for their opinion on your product, service, and or entrepreneurial endeavors. Real honest feedback is critical for every entrepreneur to excel and achieve their aspirations.”

6. Founder of CPA Exam Guy and Crush Empire has a powerful take on mental health

Bryce Welker shares a powerful truth about cultivating mental strength.

“Remember that it’s not stress that destroys people but their reaction to it. Being an entrepreneur is a guarantee of stress and stress management is something you should start working on well before you start a business. A lot of it has to do with cultivating strong self-talk so that you can guide yourself through stressful situations rather than succumb to them.”

If you want to learn more about Bryce, visit CPA Exam Guy.

7. This quantum leadership mentor will help you find your passion

Robert White is an executive empowerment agent and a business coach. Here’s his take on finding direction after university.

“Are you so passionate and committed that you will do ANYTHING (within the law and your ethics) to create your dream? You can’t eat, sleep or talk without thinking of it. If your answer is “no” to any of that — or even a qualified “yes,” go get a job.”

8. Digital Entrepreneur and Co-founder of Medium Writing Academy on the power of unity

Philip Hofmacher and Sinem Günel are two of the most well-known Medium personalities and business owners. Hundreds of Medium writers have found their footing thanks to their Medium Writing Academy and the Writer’s Mastermind group on Facebook.

Here’s Phillip’s advice for everyone looking to start a business online.

“Don’t do it alone! If you want to build a successful business, you need to cover many different fields. Even though you could do everything alone, it will take you way too long. Start with a partner, split responsibilities, and move fast.”

9. CEO at Logic Inbound has advice on how to learn what you need to succeed

Vlad Mkrtumyan from Logic Inbound has straightforward advice: don’t waste time.

“A piece of advice for aspiring enterprenuers would be to get mentors as early as possible. Other entrepreneurs have been through the journey you’re thinking of embarking on and can save you a lot of time.”

10. CEO at Test Prep Insight on what truly matters

John Ross from Test Prep Insight has a take on how to avoid being miserable after finishing university.

“Do not give up on your dream. Success doesn’t come fast or easily. A lot of young entrepreneurs give up on their business idea too quickly, and end up settling for a regular corporate job because they need to pay the bills.”
“To the extent, you can suffer through some hard times financially, ride it out as long as you possibly can. Hitting it big quickly is extremely rare, most success is earned through long years of hard work. So stick with your business idea as long as you can.”

11. Founder at Her.CEO on finding essential self-esteem to start a business

Stacy Caprio is the woman powerhouse behind Her.CEO, and she believes you only need approval from one person to start a business — yourself.

“Looking to become entrepreneurs? Don’t look for approval from others. Start your business. Start your idea. Just do it. You don’t need funding or Yeses from anyone else.”

12. Founder at Product Analyst on how to prepare for the future

Willie Greer is on a “personal quest to achieve the awesomest home theater,’ with the company Product Analyst. Here’s his take on how to adapt, survive and prosper after university.

Prepare your finances. Have an emergency fund. Prepare for the worst, and think as worse as not being able to thrive on that prospect business. You’ll never know what the future will bring, and it’s better to be financially ready should unforeseen circumstances arise. Know that you should have learned a lesson from all these and saved well despite the financial burden COVID has caused everyone. We should learn to adapt, and by this point in time, you should be more knowledgeable in doing so and keeping funds available for future use.”

13. Co-founder of CRAFTD on finding patience after university

Dan Potter is a co-founder and a lead product analyst at CRAFTD London. When he’s not “blowing the competition out the water,” traveling or plucking ideas from customers, he’s helping out the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“The best advice I can give people entering the market as young entrepreneurs is to go after your interests and pursue what you are passionate about. To be successful will take lots of time, energy, and resources. Therefore, for any quality of life, you want to merge your desires with your work to support your overall well-being.”

14. The founder of Digital Growth Mastery has an encouraging message

Kirsten McKinney from Digital Growth Mastery arrives with some much-needed motivation.

“I bought my first rental property at the age of twenty. I was making a part-time income, but somebody told me it was possible, so I saved like crazy and did it… Years later, I sold that property and used the profits to buy three more. My advice to you would be the same advice that person gave me: it’s possible!”

15. CEO of Gadget Review on the importance of life-long education

Rex Freiberger, CEO of Gadget Review, has made an extraordinary effort to help consumers never regret a “purchase decision ever again.” Gadget Review now has over 50,000 product reviews, helping millions worldwide. Here’s Rex’s advice.

“Just because you’re done with school doesn’t mean you should stop learning. Take a little time off from academics if you need, but aim to learn through hands-on experiences. Once you’ve been out in the real world for a while, consider investing some more time and energy in academic learning, as well.”

16. Founder of Oddly Cute Pets on creating concrete and attainable goals

Wesley Oaks is the man behind Oddly Cute Pets, a website that helps owners take care of their exotic pets. “Unique pets have unique requirements,” as Wesley Oaks would say. Here’s his advice for future entrepreneurs.

“Make your goals tangible. Get away from setting goals like “I want to make so many dollars per month,” which is not within your control. Instead, do something like, “my goal is to reach out to 500 potential clients this week”. It’s something you have complete control over.”

17. Managing Partner at PWV Consultants on not giving up

Pieter VanIperen is a Managing Partnernet PWV Consultants who put to “bed tech problems that keep company directors up at night.” Here’s his advice.

“For [people] looking to start a business, there is one very important thing to understand: Failure is not the end. Every entrepreneur fails. Every person fails at something in life. Learn from it, pivot, and try again. Failure is merely the beginning of your journey.”

18. Serial entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and Miss Universe on how to develop a business strategy

Nadiya Albishchenko, a woman with a long track record of success and a founder of INAS EXIM, shares her advice.

“When you are in business you must manage people's odds and make them perform despite any challenges to get your final goals achieved. That’s how you develop your strategy and that should be your focus, so the goal will be accomplished. What to say and how to say to people and keep in mind their mindset to make sure they will receive information the way you want it.”

19. Founder of a 6-figure blog on getting started

Edwin Contreras from Do Six Figures helps bloggers get to that 6-figure sweet spot. Here’s what he has to say about starting a business.

“No plan is 100% perfect right from the start. Expect roadblocks and redirections along the way. Entrepreneurship is a long journey of trying different ideas and testing them, all without losing your passion.”

20. Digital agency owner on learning through experience and failure

Baidhurya Mani is a digital agency owner and a founder at Sell Courses Online. Here’s his golden nugget.

“My number one piece of advice to anyone looking to become entrepreneurs is to never be afraid to learn through experience and failure. Books and the internet are great guides, but they won’t give you the answer to every business’s success. It’s likely you won’t succeed on your first business idea, but keep doing more and don’t be afraid to fail.“
“Figure out what’s working and not working for you. Keep studying your target customers, foster a meaningful connection with them until they see your business as a solution to their needs and problems.”

21. Founder of Norwegian Lean Startup Circle and corporate consultant on providing value

Bruno Pešec, a man who turns “corporate innovation into a viable investment” with his company Pesec Global has a way of building a value-infused process.

“Test your idea as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Be relentless in understanding your customer, their habits, wants, and needs. Study their decision-making and purchasing process. Obsess over providing meaningful value to them, and then build a business around it.

22. Professional Business coach on building your network as an introvert

Melitta Campbell, a business coach, speaker, and author of ‘A Shy Girl’s Guide to Networking,’ knows that introverts are just as good if not better at starting a business.

“It’s never too early to start building your network.
The people you meet at university will be smart, curious, and often ambitious. The perfect base for any network. Keep growing and nurturing your list intentionally over time, and you’ll have access to the ultimate tool for business growth at your disposal.
Your network can open doors, give you market insights, expose you to opportunities, refer you to clients, and support you as you learn and grow.
But don’t believe the hype. You don’t have to be loud and outgoing. In fact, in my experience many of the best networkers are introverts.”

23. Co-founder of CocoFax on discovering your audience

Olivia Tan is a co-founder of CocoFax, a startup that helps businesses go greener with all-in-one fax solutions. Here’s her practical advice on recognizing the people you’re looking to serve.

“Recognize the audience. Here’s a hint: the audience will never be ‘everyone.’ There will always be a population for which the product or service is more suited, but determining who that demographic is is critical. Market analysis will assist you in determining your potential audience’s desires, expectations, habits, and perceptions, as well as how your product or service will better benefit them.”

24. Founder of Formalspal on how to grow from day one

Mike Chappell is the founder of Formspal, an online platform that “supports communities and individuals regardless of their gender, age, nationality, or religion by offering high-quality legal forms online.” Here’s Mike’s advice on how to find your learning curve.

“Accept criticism and benefit from the errors. To begin, nobody is born an entrepreneur. We all improve from errors, and the ability to receive positive criticism and reviews is critical for the company to grow and remain successful.”

25. CEO at Sell With Richard on how social capital can fuel your future business

Richard Mews is a British real estate investor, landlord, and property developer who knows the power of networks. He is a founder of several nationwide property acquisitions, disposition, and management services, most notably a real estate buying program, Sell with Richard.

Here’s Richard’s advice.

“Take advantage of networking resources during the degree, including networking activities, business talks, internships, and even coffee morning catch-ups. It does not have to be formal; simply getting to know your colleagues on a casual basis will develop into a professional working relationship.”

26. VP and Co-Founder at Mid Florida Material Handling about getting ahead

Andrea Ahern is a VP and co-founder at Mid Florida Material Handling, a “premier material handling business in Central Florida.” Here’s Andrea’s advice about getting hands-on experience after school.

“Focus on getting a real word experience. The number of academics in start-ups has grown tremendously and it’s not necessarily a good thing. Whether you’re trying to get suppliers, customers, or investors, real-world experience in the field is critical.”
“As a seasoned entrepreneur, it’s obvious when a “CEO” has spent their entire lives in school and then launched a company with someone else’s money. Lack of business acumen (Which isn’t taught in business school!) will come back to bite your company. Get into the industry you're interested in, learn it deeply, and use that knowledge to build a product and company.”

27. Representative from Beacon Investment on what industries can make you money right now

Representatives from Beacon Investment’s branch building the Lahore Smart City have precise job-related advice for postgrads who graduated during the pandemic.

“All the post-grad students, especially the ones that graduated during the pandemic ought to opt for an option that is mostly remote in nature and still generates a good income with all the lockdowns happening time to time. “Digitalized businesses such as digital marketing, coding, content marking etc that can be managed through software are the best and most durable options right now.”

28. Co-founder at Front Signs on how to find your way through failure

Gevorg Hambardzumyan knows how to run a print company in Los Angeles’ cut-throat market. Here’s his advice:

“Learn the art of failure. As an innovator, you have to get in the trenches. You have to be willing to sacrifice your strengths to break new ground. Go out there, make a fool of yourself and learn tricks others are too afraid to unlock.”

29. Founder at DMarket about adopting the doer’s mindset

From Vlad Panchenko, a serial entrepreneur, CEO, and founder at DMarket, an NFT marketplace that offers the technology to build gaming metaverses.

“My piece of advice — just do it now. Create an MVP and try to sell it. Create something and bring it to the customers asap. Don’t waste your time in the big corporations using an excuse, I’m learning from the best. The real entrepreneur learns from his or her own mistakes.”

30. Founder at Marquet Media on how exercising caution in the fast lane can lead to success

Kristin Marquet is a powerhouse founder, serial marketer, and contributor to some of the largest publications, including Forbes and Inc. She’s successfully running multiple companies such as Marquet-Media, Marquet.company, and FemFounder.co. Here’s Kristin’s advice.

“Make sure to conduct the right research before launching a business. Be smart and strategic about how you conduct market research. Ensure there’s a demand for what you want to offer before launching your first venture.”

31. Finance Coach with Nomadic FIRE on how to save an astonishing amount of money after college

Marco Sison is one of the prominent voices of the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement. On his website, Nomad Fire, Marco is educating his audience on escaping the rat race and generating enough money to live freely anywhere in the world. Here’s his advice:

Is Your Job Letting You Work From Home? Job hack your location. Many companies have already decided to make remote work a permanent or semi-permanent business strategy in 2021. You can leverage working from home to save 30% to 50% by moving out of an expensive city. By not being tied to a specific city for work, you can reduce your monthly expenses by moving to a cheaper location. For example, crossing the border from an expensive state like California to a more affordable Nevada could save you 21% on your monthly expenses (Data Source: MO Economic Research and Information Center)”

32. Founder of Famous In Real Life on how to prepare for the real business

Mike Pasley is the founder of Famous In Real Life, an online t-shirt retailer with a mission to make you laugh. Here’s Mike’s advice.

“No matter what you studied in college, you will have to just jump right into entrepreneurship if that is what you want to do. You could take all the classes in the world, and perhaps you will want to take even more classes to help you after college, but even then you still have to take action and learn by doing.”
“Remember that this isn’t for a grade, it’s for you and the life you want for yourself. So set yourself daily and weekly goals in terms of completing realistic actions aimed towards growing your business. Don’t overthink things too much, and learn by seeing what happens from your efforts. The more you do, the more you’ll learn.”

Final thoughts

Starting a business is one of the most rewarding and brutal experiences.

I’d say that all the rewards were more than worth the risk and anxiety. I started my SaaS SEO Agency and writing business in my 20s. Both companies have been growing tremendously over the years.

I hope this story will help you find what you need to start your first business.

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