If you’re looking to take your career to the next level and be your own boss, it’s time to let your inner entrepreneur loose. As a business founder, you can enjoy a freedom and flexibility unlike any other and there’s the opportunity to grow your income tremendously.
But it takes more than a great idea to build a company from the ground up. For every successful establishment there is another that didn’t make it past the first five years, shows data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So if you want your business to flourish, take a lesson from successful entrepreneurs. Read on to find out which common business pitfalls successful millionaires like Mark Cuban, Ellen DeGeneres and even Lorde warn against.
1. Mark Cuban: You’re Not Afraid of Failing
Mark Cuban’s a businessman, investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and you’ve probably seen him on the popular television series “Shark Tank.” With Mark Cuban’s net worth estimated at $3 billion by Forbes due to his success, he has certainly earned the right to give business advice. In an interview with Young Money, for instance, Cuban said that fear of failure is healthy for new and experienced entrepreneurs alike. “I’m always afraid of failing,” he said. “It’s great motivation to work harder.”
Cuban also noted the importance of keeping up with the competition: “Do your homework and know your business better than anyone. Otherwise, someone who knows more and works harder will kick your ass.”
2. Ellen DeGeneres: You’re Following Someone Else’s Path
Ellen DeGeneres is best known as an Emmy-winning talk show host, but she’s also a producer, comedian and actress, and starred in her own popular sitcom. She encourages individuality and finding your own path to success, because what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone.
“Follow your passion,” DeGeneres said in a 2009 commencement speech at Tulane University. “Stay true to yourself. Never follow anyone else’s path,” she said, then joked, “unless you’re in the woods and lost and you see a path. Then, by all means, follow that path.”
DeGeneres proved her point with a punchline about her own path, which didn’t include higher education: “I didn’t go to college at all, any college. And I’m not saying you wasted your time and money, but look at me — I’m a huge celebrity.”
3. Lorde: You’re Rehashing What’s Been Done
In less than two years Lorde made a name for herself in the music industry as a singer and songwriter. What contributed to her success? She thinks outside the box and brings something new to the table.
“Before I even knew how to make music I would listen to everything,” Lorde said in a Billboard interview. “[I’d] think, ‘Why isn’t there … this? Making music was my attempt to put something in that space that I felt wasn’t there.” This approach also works in business. Find an untapped market in your industry and capitalize on that opportunity, instead of becoming yet another iteration of existing business models competing with all the companies doing the same thing.
4. Steve Jobs: You’re Settling
Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs was an entrepreneur, inventor and visionary. Jobs forever changed the way we use our mobile devices and helped shape the personal electronics industry. Jobs’ advice was to love what you do.
“You’ve got to find what you love,” Jobs said in a commencement address at Stanford University. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
It takes a lot of time and energy to run a company, but if you’re passionate about your field of work you’ll naturally want to work hard and make your company a success.
Related: 7 Things Successful People Never Say
5. 50 Cent: You’re Not Listening to Customers
You might be familiar with 50 Cent’s rapping, but behind the scenes he’s also a successful businessman with dealings in the beverage, technology, video games and clothing industries. 50 Cent said it’s key to listen to your target audience and give them what they want, reports GQ. “The public is never wrong. When people don’t respond to what you do, they’re telling you something loud and clear. You’re just not listening.”
6. Sir Richard Branson: You’re Acting Like a Big Business
The founder of Virgin Group, which includes Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic, has a net worth of $5 billion, as estimated by Forbes. Branson advised new small business owners to play up their strengths and offer something large corporations can’t. “Big businesses will always try to crush small upstarts,” said Branson, reports PROFITguide.com. “To beat big businesses, use the strengths of being small. Big corporations are impersonal; staff are often not treated well. At a small company, you can make sure your staff are proud of working for you and then they’ll work hard to be successful.”
7. Elon Musk: You’re Ignoring Criticism
The cofounder of PayPal, Inc., cofounder and CEO of Tesla Motors, and founder of SpaceX has had incredible business success, which has earned Elon Musk a net worth estimated at $13.2 billion, according to Forbes. Musk is no stranger to negative press. But he said rather than reject negative comments, he embraces negative feedback and learns from it.
“Always seek negative feedback, even though it can be mentally painful,” said Musk in an interview with Investor’s Business Daily. “They won’t always be right, but I find the single biggest error people make is to ignore constructive, negative feedback.” One of the worst things a young business can do is ignore feedback, especially when it’s constructive and might provide insight on ways to improve your business model.
8. Dave Goldberg: You’re Hiring on Experience Alone
Recently-deceased CEO of Survey Monkey Dave Goldberg turned the tech company into a billion-dollar business, and one of the biggest lessons he learned was to hire people based on culture fit rather than experience alone, which enabled him to find and groom star workers who fundamentally understood the business.
“There are the people who don’t have any experience but are just really smart, talented, and motivated,” Goldberg said, reports First Round Review. “Some of the worst mistakes that I’ve made in hiring come from hiring someone who looks like they’ve had great experience, but they just didn’t fit with our culture. Their experience didn’t translate to the new business.”
9. Tim Ferriss: You’re Rushing It
Some people take a big leap of faith when starting a business: They quit their jobs and live off savings in order to quickly grow their companies. The risk might pay off, but there are no guarantees. Entrepreneur, public speaker and author Tim Ferriss recommends a different, safer approach.
“I discourage people from cutting all ties and losing full-time income to focus on a business. You don’t have to make that leap,” Ferriss said, reports Entrepreneur.com. “People tend to think it’s employee or entrepreneur, but there’s a broad spectrum and you can very slowly and methodically move from one end to the other.
Quitting your 9-to-5 job gives you more time and energy to devote to your new business, but you will also create stress and headaches for yourself if you don’t have steady income to pay your bills. You could end up with a lot riding on a business that is still too young to support you, forcing your into financial missteps or even failure.
10. Lady Gaga: You’re Doubting Yourself
The American singer, songwriter and actress offers interesting, yet simple advice for any would-be entrepreneur — fake it until you make it. “I used to walk down the street like I was a f—ing star,” Lady Gaga said, as quoted in biography “Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga.” “I want people to walk around delusional about how great they can be — and then to fight so hard for it every day that the lie becomes the truth.” In other words, your business might fail if you don’t believe you can achieve success and follow it up with hard work.