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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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 Amazon.com)
“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)
“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)
“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.
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Studying in college is hard for everyone, but ESL learners arguably suffer the most. Moving to a foreign country, learning a new language, and keeping pace with the rest of the class may seem like an unbearable burden. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, but you have to pull through and not give up.
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Control Your Environment
Improving your language skills is all about constant practice. Living in an English-speaking community is the first thing you should do to start your practice. It might be tempting to surround yourself with people who already speak a familiar language. However, this way, you won’t be practicing English on a daily basis.
You need to make those lessons almost intuitive in a way that you don’t have to do anything to learn the language. If you live in an English-speaking community, for example, if your roommate speaks English, you will have to practice the language, whether you want it or not.
Still, make sure you don’t take it too far. Taking care of yourself is still as important as ever. Feeling like an alien for the sake of education is not worth it. Remember to keep in touch with your friends and family, talk to them as often as necessary.
Practicing language is not just about doing your homework. You can make practicing English a normal part of your daily routine by watching TV, listening to music, and reading books in this language.
Yet, this is a bit tricky. When being surrounded by white noise, people tend to learn not to notice it. You need to ensure this doesn’t happen. As you watch movies or read books, maintain your attention on what you’re doing. If you hear or see a word that you don’t understand – translate it and write it down. Be mindful and remember what you’re doing this for.
Writing Is The Answer
If you want to specifically learn to write, you need to do one thing, and that is to write. Continuous practice will help you understand what mistakes you often make and, in time, eliminate them. Focus on your goal, and don’t get discouraged when something’s not working. After all, even Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Get a journal and write in it daily. Pick a new topic every time and note everything you can think of. It’s also important that you write by hand, a spelling checker in your computer is tempting, but it will not help you remember how to spell words correctly.
Besides, journaling as a habit has multiple health benefits, and it can be therapeutic. It can help you get in touch with yourself and process your emotions better.
Learn In a Group
It’s proven that learning in a group is more efficient due to the sense of competition. Find a bunch of like-minded people who want to study with you or join an already existing one, like a speaking club.
The benefit of such activities is that you get all these people from entirely different backgrounds who are all good at various things. This will help you exchange experiences, which is impossible if you’re alone.
Schedule regular meetings, come up with topics to discuss and activities to do. You could watch videos or movies together, or talk about common things. Having assignments like describing an event can also be beneficial for the entire group. This way, while one person speaks, the rest think about how they would say the same things differently.
This will help you feel more confident in your skills and, consequently, speak and write better.
The most important thing about learning a language is not to be afraid of making mistakes. It’s inevitable; you just have to take it as a natural part of a learning process.
A child that is learning how to walk doesn’t give up after falling once, and you shouldn’t either. It’s most likely that your friends understand that you’re just learning a language, and they won’t laugh at you for misusing a word or a few.
Get over that fear of error and make as many mistakes as it will take. Treat it lightly, and don’t beat yourself up for it. On the other hand, try to attend as many events as you can that will expose you to the foreign language. Not only will it boost your English skills, but also improve your social confidence!
Learning a language is hard; there’s no arguing about that. However, it’s going to get easier with time. Take every hard thing that life throws at you and turn it into a lesson.
Watch your favorite movies in English, converse with native speakers, and you’ll see the improvement very soon!
Remember to be patient about it. Don’t give up, and don’t beat yourself up over something that you have so little control of. Good luck!
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