I interview entrepreneurs everyday on my radio show and I am always inspired by the way they view the world. Their attitudes about success, failure and what it takes to build a sustaining enterprise differ greatly from what is represented in mainstream pop culture.
To steal a line from one of my favorite, and oft misunderstood entrepreneurs, Steve Jobs – entrepreneurs “think different”.
Quotes from other successful entrepreneurs provide a window into how their thinking differs on some popular topics:
1 – Luck
I’ve always worked very, very hard, and the harder I worked, the luckier I got. – Alan Bond
An entrepreneur knows there is no such thing as luck. Luck is an excuse and it unfairly minimizes the hard work it takes to be successful.
2 – Freedom
There is only one success–to be able to spend your life in your own way.–Christopher Morley
The entrepreneur defines freedom as the ability to do what they want, when they want and have control over their own destiny. It’s not about retiring, extra vacation days or lack of responsibility.
3 – Failure
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.–Thomas Edison
The only point at which you have truly failed is when you stop trying. Each attempt at making something work is another lesson, another opportunity. Ensure you have defined an appropriate end goal for your efforts to measure true success.
4 – Work/Life Balance
I do not believe a man can ever leave his business. He ought to think of it by day and dream of it by night.–Henry Ford
Once you start a business, it becomes an integral part of your life. Experienced entrepreneurs know this–and they are okay with it. Building proper systems allows you time away from the office (and is the only way to scale). But no one will ever care for or grow your vision the way you can.
Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. – Bill Gates
Entrepreneurs love to hear from and talk to unhappy customers. Unhappy customers are the best source of ways to improve your business, build your product and drive your market. When you satisfy an unhappy customer, they are loyal and a great source for referrals and recommendations.
“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” – Biz Stone
There is no such thing as an overnight success and entrepreneurs see their time as an investment in their business. If your not willing to spend the time, then your likely not dedicated enough to see your idea through.
“The secret to successful hiring is this: look for the people who want to change the world.” – Marc Benioff
In order for a business to be successful, hire the individuals who want more than a paycheck. It is your job to set the vision and move your team towards a common goal they are passionate about.
8 – Raising Money
A savvy entrepreneur will not always look for investment money, first. – Daymond John
You don’t need to raise money to get your business off the ground. Once you bring in outside capital, you immediately gain a boss and lose control over your new venture.
I treat business a bit like a computer game. I count money as points. I’m doing really well: making lots of money and lots of points. – Michael Dunlop
Entrepreneurs view money as a way to keep score and a resource they need to fund their next big dream or vision. There are far easier ways to “get rich” and entrepreneurs, especially in the early days of their company, make far less than they could just getting a job.
“Watch, listen, and learn. You can’t know it all yourself. Anyone who thinks they do is destined for mediocrity.”–Donald Trump
Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn from others. Purposefully seek out different perspectives and use them to form your own opinion.
If you think that you are going to love something, give it a try. You’re going to kick yourself in the butt for the rest of your life if you don’t. – Joe Penna
Entrepreneurs are constantly experimenting. The number one piece of advice shared by guests on my show is to find an opportunity to work within the industry, technology or business model you are considering before jumping in.
If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough. – Mario Andretti
Entrepreneurship is synonymous with “controlled chaos”. You need to be okay with changing priorities, new competitors and a shifting technology landscape. Being versatile and cool under pressure is a must for entrepreneurial success.
Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune. – Jim Rohn
I hire street smarts over book smarts. As you evaluate jumping into a new venture, don’t let education or lack of experience hold you back. There are plenty of resources to help you be successful and #11 on this list is more important than another degree.
Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up.–Thomas J. Watson
Be okay with and seek out others that challenge your way of thinking. Realize that where you expect the greatest support (your current friends and family) might be the least likely to provide it.
15 – Work
My son is now an ‘entrepreneur.’ That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.–Ted Turner
This is one of my favorite quotes. When I was doing entrepreneurial work in the 90’s, many people thought I was just unemployed. It’s important that you – and your friends and family – take what you are doing as seriously as any regular “job”.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.