It's like planting a seedling when it comes to starting a business. You must first commit your time and money. Then you must look after it with no expectation of anything in return. But when your business takes off, all of your patience and hard work will be rewarded.
Many businesses, like saplings, fail to flourish and die one to three years after their inception. While there are numerous elements that contribute to a company's failure, one of the most common is the absence of experienced startup advice received by founders.
A seasoned entrepreneur's expertise is priceless, and no amount of theoretical models you study can replace the experience they've obtained through really doing the work, failing, and succeeding.
Here are 51 bits of startup advice from successful entrepreneurs to help you get your business off the ground and stay inspired when you need it most.
1. "If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life." -Brian Chesky, Co-founder of Airbnb
2. "One of the greatest skills of leadership is being unflappable. Anytime you do anything in the world; there’s going to be criticism." -Arianna Huffington, Co-found and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group
3. "When you are building a startup, it’s difficult. Particularly, a startup that is expanding at the rate of Tinder. You have to give 100%, and you have to be committed. Solving the problem has to be personal or else you’re going to disintegrate." -Sean Rad, Co-founder of Tinder, Inc.
4. "Success depends on employees. For me knowing and connecting with my employees is very important." -Divine Ndhlukula, founder and managing director of DDNS Security Operations Ltd
5. "Selling is not a pushy, winner-takes-all, macho act. It is an empathy-led, process-driven, and knowledge-intensive discipline. Because, in the end, people buy from people." -Subroto Bagchi, Co-founder of Mindtree
6. "Ignore the hype of the startups that you see in the press. Mostly, it’s a pack of lies. Half of these startups will be dead in a year. So, focus on building your business so you can be the one left standing." -Jules Pieri, Co-founder and CEO of The Grommet
7. "It’s important to realize that brand is much more than a logo and slogan. A brand is who your company is: how you function and make decisions." -Joanna McFarland, Co-founder of HopSkipDrive
8. "Do not focus on numbers. Focus on doing what you do best. It’s about building a community who want to visit your site every day because you create value and offer expertise." -Cassey Ho, Founder of Blogilates.com
9. "When in doubt, bootstrap. Using your own personal resources is the easiest way to start a business. You don’t have to convince investors about the merits of your idea. You just have to convince yourself." -Ryan Holmes, Co-founder of Hootsuite
10. "You have to see failure as the beginning and the middle, but never entertain it as an end." -Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO of Stella & Dot
11. "Starting a company extracts so much energy and conviction that not having a clear-cut goal and meaningful mission can hamper your success. This is why, at Virta, our mission was clearly defined: reverse early type-2 diabetes in 100 million people by 2025." -Sami Inkinen, Co-founder of Virta Health
12. "If you know too much before the start, then you will get overwhelmed. Come up with an original idea, and don’t copy because there will be no passion. You need that otherworldly passion. Just start." -Jeni Britton Bauer, Founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
13. "Don’t assume that borrowing lots of money can make your startup fly. There are many things to the business other than investors, and it’s possible to succeed with your startup without breaking the bank." -Barnaby Lashbrooke, Founder of Time Etc.
14. "Don’t try to do everything by yourself, but try to connect with people and resources. Having that discipline and perseverance is really important." -Chieu Cao, Co-founder of Perkbox
15. "It’s necessary to find a mentor who can invest time to know your personal capabilities and business model." -Nigel Davies, Founder of Claromentis
16. "Don’t get distracted. Never tell yourself that you need to be the biggest brand in the whole world. Start by working on what you need at the present moment and then what you need to do tomorrow. So, set yourself manageable targets." -Jas Bagniewski, Co-Founder of Eve Sleep
17. "You have to get good at ceding control and not taking things personally. Even seasoned entrepreneurs have struggled with that. I think it’s about not taking failures personally and also not taking successes personally." -Leila Janah, Founder of Samasource and LXMI
18. "No matter how many customers you have, each is an individual. The day you start thinking of them as this amorphous ‘collection’ and stop thinking of them as people is the day you start going out of business." -Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founder of HubSpot
19. "Your ability to attract, evaluate, and forge strong working relationships with co-founders, early employees, and investors often mean the difference between failure and success." -Clara Shih, Co-founder of Hearsay Systems
20. "Fundraising is much easier now because of crowdfunding. Take advantage of that." -Constantin Bisanz, Founder of Aloha
21. "Being a woman in business doesn’t come without challenges. My advice? Surround yourself with other supportive women that encourage you, share ideas, and get you motivated." -Jessica Alba, Founder of The Honest Company
22. "If you can offer a free tier that provides a lot of value, it will naturally help your product to spread much more rapidly." -Melanie Perkins, Co-founder of Canva
23. "My advice is to focus on the importance of forging a long-term relationship, whether with colleagues, partners, or customers. It is often easy to get caught up in short-term decisions." -Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder of Care.com
24. "If you’re starting something on your own, you better have a passion for it, because this is hard work." -Sallie Krawcheck, Co-founder of Ellevest
25. "Be nicer to your customers than your competitors." -Richard Reed, Co-Founder of Innocent Drinks
26. "Passion, creativity, and resilience are the most crucial skills in business. If you’ve got those, you’re ready to embark on the journey." -Jo Malone, Founder of Jo Malone
27. "If you are working on a product that’s going to be consumer-facing, then feedback is invaluable. You should be out there being brave and talking to people and asking for feedback as much as possible." -Emily Brooke, Co-founder of Blaze
28. "In the age of transparency, honesty, and generosity, even in the form of an apology, generate goodwill." -Alexander Asseily, founder of Jawbone
29. "Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to ask. I have been in the news many times just by calling on the news channel and asking them about featuring my business." -Lori Cheek, Founder of Cheekd
30. "Remain self-funded as long as possible." -Garrett Camp, Co-founder of Uber, StumbleUpon, and Expa
31. "Start as small as you can. When I started SkinnyMe Tea, I had $24 in the bank, and I was entirely self-funded. If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product; you’ve launched too late." -Gretta Rose van Riel, Founder of Hey Influencers
32. "As a founder, lay all the possible scenarios -- from best to worst -- in front of you, so you don’t get surprised when something happens." -Brian Wong, Co-founder of Kiip
33. "We learned many things while building FourSquare. One of the most important lessons is to be clear to investors about what the company will and will not do. And be open about the priorities of the things that have to be done." -Dennis Crowley, Co-founder of Foursquare
34. "Don’t let others convince you that the idea is good when your gut tells you it’s bad." -Kevin Rose, co-founded Digg
35. "I can name dozens of failures that we had over the years. Yet, with all these failures, we still managed to build Appster into one of the largest, and best companies in our industry. So, remember every time you fail, remind yourself these words: ‘Life won’t always go my way, but I will always find a way'." -Josiah Humphrey, Co-founder of Appster
36. "If you tune it so that you have zero chance of failure, you usually also have zero chance of success. The key is to look at ways for when you get to your failure checkpoint, you know to stop." -Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn
37. "Some days you're smiling and thinking you're going to make this thing rock. Then the next day a pipe breaks and your costs look too high. You have to learn to keep your eyes on an ultimate goal. If you lose sight of that goal, you have to get out." -Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani
38. "If something is important enough, or you believe something is important enough, even if you are scared, you will keep going." -Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX
39. "One of the things I tend to do is open myself up to a variety of voices. I try to expose myself to the kind of culture shock that occurs when you talk to people who speak a different language." -Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay
40. "If you start thinking you are good at something, that's often the day you stop trying to be better and open the back door for someone to come after you. That's why we always aim higher. We never feel like we're done." -Drew Houston, cofounder and CEO of Dropbox
41. "Only the paranoid survive." -Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel
42. "Most of us want to tell our coworkers or friends, or husbands or wives, our ideas. For what reason? We want validation. But I feel ideas are most vulnerable in their infancy. Out of love and concern, friends and family give all the reasons or objections on why [you] shouldn't do it. I didn't want to risk that." -Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx
43. "I'm always tweaking, always trying to make it better, constantly moving the levers and dials." -Steve Ells, founder and co-CEO of Chipotle
44. "It starts with not having a hangover with the way things used to be." -Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour
45. "There is something artificial when everyone is agreeing with each other. It's useful to indulge people who don't agree, and see their viewpoint or force yourself to explain things better." -David Sack, founder of Yammer
46. "If you are not getting traction on your idea, you try few things. You try pushing harder, cleaning up something, building up to something aggressively -- but if it doesn’t get traction, then don’t bother." -Vijay Sharma, Founder of Paytm
47. "It’s very important for entrepreneurs to look for people in the company who are not afraid of failures, for example, intrapreneurs. They make a business more successful by thinking like an entrepreneur -- but within a company." -Chirag Kulkarni, Founder of Taco
48. "If we are going to be part of the solution, we have to engage the problems." -Majora Carter, urban revitalization strategist and broadcast producer
49. "[Don’t] let anyone convince you that your dream, your vision to be an entrepreneur, is something that you shouldn’t do. What often happens is that people who are well meaning, who really care for us, are afraid for us and talk us out of it." -Cathy Hughes, entrepreneur, radio and television personality, and business executive
50. "Five days a week, I read my goals before I go to sleep and when I wake up. There are 10 goals around health, family and business with expiration dates, and I update them every six months." -Daymond John, founder, president, and CEO of FUBU
51. "There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it, for whatever success I have attained has been the result of much hard work and many sleepless nights." -Madam C.J. Walker, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist
Sometimes all you need is a little encouragement and a lot of wisdom to get through the tough times. Look to your mentors for advice, and have a few of these quotations handy.
Salty Red Dog Marketing, LLC is a marketing agency in Red Bank, NJ, Westport, CT, and everywhere in between. We service businesses with marketing strategies, digital marketing, social media, and consultations.
Phone: NJ: (732) 802-6205 // CT: (203) 429-9671