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What I Wish I Had Known: 8 Entrepreneurs Share Their Startup Secrets



Jeff Bezos Amazon Startup Advice

If you’ve ever tried to start your own company, then you know that some of the “advice” you get from friends, relatives, and even perfect strangers isn’t always all that valuable.

It can range from the simply unhelpful (“Don’t go out of business!”), to the impossible (“Give it everything you’ve got!”), to the downright dangerous (“No matter what happens, stick it out!”), but you can bet that once everyone has offered their two cents’ worth, you probably won’t be any closer to grasping that elusive secret of success. Of course, that all changes when you’re getting your advice from some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. These people know what they’re talking about, and they’re willing to share their wisdom with you. Yes, you. So get ready to be enlightened, because here are nine pieces of startup advice from people who actually know what they’re talking about.

Here are the 8 secrets of startup success from a handful of successful entrepreneurs.


What I Wish I Had Known


1. Jared Kim (Founder & CEO of Forge)

Jared Kim Startup Entrepreneur Success






Don’t burn out. Take care of yourself by getting 8 hours of sleep, eat healthy, and exercise. If you don’t take care of yourself, there’s no way you can take care of your company in the long-term.”

It may seem as though your new company is the most important thing in the world, but it isn’t. If you sacrifice your own health and happiness for the sake of your company, then you’ll just end up without happiness in either.


2. Leo Widrich (Co-founder of Buffer)

Leo Wildrich Startup Entrepreneur Success






It took me years to finally start saying no to things that would take me away from what really needed my attention. No to meetings. No to interviews, and no to extra projects (for extra money.) When I implemented my daily to-do lists my whole day/week/month changed. I would only accept opportunities if they could come after my to-dos were completed.”

Sometimes, as the founder of a new startup, it’s easy to overload yourself. When new responsibilities or opportunities come along, feel free to put them on your plate, but only if they don’t end up costing you time and energy that should be going towards more important issues.


3. Mark Otero (Founder & CEO of Klicknation)

Mark Otero Startup Entrepreneur Success






Know your weaknesses: Knowing your weaknesses is as important as knowing what your strengths are, and even more important as your company grows; hire or have co-founders who are great in areas where you are weak.”

Chances are you’re not an expert in every area where your business will require you to be an expert. Maybe you have problems with finances. Maybe you just don’t get marketing. Maybe the idea of schmoozing with investors makes your sweat through your suit. Well, that’s all OK, as long as you’re sure to hire people who fill in the gaps in your armor, as the Mark Otero, founder of Klicknation, explains.


4. Todd Pedersen (Founder & CEO of Vivint)

Todd Pedersen Vivint Startup Entrepreneur Success






First, if you’re going to run a company, you have to provide the best service you possibly can for your customers. Second, you have to treat your employees like gold. And then three, everything else will work itself out.”

The secrets to building a successful company aren’t really secrets at all; you just give customers what they want and treat your employees well, like Todd Pedersen, CEO of Vivint, has said. Of course, just because it’s simple to say, it does not necessarily follow that it’s easy to implement.


5. Phineas Barnes (Partner at First Round Capital)

Phineas Barnes Startup Entrepreneur Success






Your choice of partners and investors should be thought of as permanent and are therefore the most important two decisions you make.”

Starting a business is a big commitment. In fact, if all goes well, then it may be a large part of your life for the rest of your life, as Phineas Barnes of First Round Capital explains. As such, you’ll want to be very careful about whom you include in your startup, because if you aren’t, you may end up having to deal with an imperfect fit for years—or even decades—to come.


6. Jeff Bezos (Founder & CEO of

Jeff Bezos Startup Entrepreneur Success






I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.”

For some reason, many of us have been conditioned to be more afraid of failure than we are of inaction. However, failure, in addition to being inherently valuable as a learning process, contains within it the chance of success. And no matter how small that chance is, it’s better than the chances of success when we choose not to even try.


7. Peter Berg (Founder of October Three)

Peter Berg Startup Entrepreneur Success






Be really picky with your hiring, and hire the absolute best people you possibly can. People are the most important component of almost every business, and attracting the best talent possible is going to make a huge difference.”

While CEO’s and founders, and the ideas on which their success is built, often get the spotlight when it comes to business, the truth is that it is the employees that actually breathe life into a company. Even the most innovative idea can wither and die without the right kind of support from a talented workforce, so give your hiring process the attention and time that it deserves.


8. Thomas Edison (Founder of General Electric)

Thomas Edison Startup Entrepreneur Success






The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”

You have an idea that will change the world? Well, it’s not worth anything unless you can turn that idea into a reality. So take the plunge and see just how far that idea can take you. Or, you can sit around trading advice over the internet.

The choice is yours.



  1. Lidiya K

    Jan 28, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Wise words!

    I think we all need to focus a bit more on the first one. So many people work hard, stay focused on their goals, put effort and sweat in what they want to achieve, but meanwhile forget to take care of themselves. And soon this becomes the reason why they fail. Or even if they succeed, they can’t really enjoy it as they’re in such a bad shape.

    Thanks for putting these quotes and tips together.

  2. Sean Dudayev

    May 30, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    I like the Edison quote, an idea can take seconds to think of but it takes years of effort to build it into existence.

  3. Enock Langat

    May 11, 2014 at 5:59 am

    Reading trough these quotes are as if all were directed to me! The encouragements are incredible, am in the process of developing my company but also my daily life entails encouraging Small scale farmers to implement the ideas they have, while informing them on the new ideas in the market.
    I really like being part of these, keep up the hard work

  4. Joseph Njuguna

    May 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Am really changed after going through the list of advice I’ve started a Janitorial business at least by now am powered to move a niche high

  5. Augustine Kitonye

    May 10, 2014 at 6:37 am

    These are witty pieces of advice, rich with wisdom on how to make to make dreams come true

  6. George Celeste

    May 9, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Article like this makes you feel like you can do it too. By reading the list i asked myself one question, what is it these people have that i don’t?” Whoever answers this question is already on his/her way to success.

  7. Masibulele koti

    May 9, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Wow wow wow I am so encouraged today, after reading quotes and watching a video I feel so energetic.THANK YOU JOEL!!!

  8. Wan Muhammad Zulfikri Wan Yusoff

    May 7, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    “You have an idea that will change the world? Well, it’s not worth anything unless you can turn that idea into a reality. So take the plunge and see just how far that idea can take you.”
    Well said, Alex.

    Taking action is the thing that separates the weak and the strong.

  9. willie j wilson (@wilsy111)

    May 7, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    why is it so hard to find a mentor ? I have been in the trucking industry for over 17 years and wanted to start my own company.
    I have ask many of my fellow trucking company friends can they become a mentor to me. how did you guys make it work.?

    • sheilamakena

      May 9, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      You have worked 17 years in the industry. Wow! Can you imagine the amount of wisdom and experience you have gained? You know the ins and outs of the game. You don’t need a mentor so much as you need to start believing in your own ability to bring something new and fresh to it. I’m pretty sure you have noticed certain loopholes and discovered ways to help the industry progress further. Develop what you already have and connect with someone you trust within the industry that you can share your idea with. Things will come together but it’s going to take you stepping up to it and owning it. 17 years makes you an expert! You can do this!

    • Veronica Reczko (@VeronicaReczko)

      May 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      Mentors do not have to be physical people that you work with. My mentors, to name a few, are Jim Rohn, John C. Maxwell, Napoleon Hill, and Success Magazine. You can find mentors all over and there are books and CD’s on anything you want to learn. A small step would be to invest in the book, video, or audio and listen to it while you drive. My biggest mistake in this small step was I became obsessed with the knowledge and not obsessed with the application of the knowledge. Do not hesitate to apply the leadership, organizational, and developmental skills you learn. Hope this helps!

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