Do you fancy yourself as a budding entrepreneur? Have you got visions of rolling on a bed of money on your yacht surrounded by hotties drenched in expensive champagne?

Well, anything is possible.

But as Yoda says 'much to learn you still have'. So, before you go full steam ahead with your latest idea, it's worth taking note from strong forces and business rock stars who have been there done that. Well, not exactly that - not everyone loves champagne - but you get our drift. 


We've compiled a list of the top 5 entrepreneurs and successful business people and their advice on what it takes to be successful. Make your way through this lot and not only will you get a motivational boot in the rear, you will be buzzing to make your next move in your career and release your inner force.

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1. Sheryl Sandberg: Use the force to proceed and be bold

 

 Don't underestimate the Force – Darth Vader

If you don't know this lady already, then where have you been? Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and was also the first woman to join Facebook's executive board. As founder of The Lean In Foundation and author of Lean In she is also known as an activist, most predominantly for women in business.  Sheryl was on Time Inc's '100 most influential people in the world' list in 2012 and in 2015 was reported be worth over $1 billion. 

Often we gripe and moan about never having any luck, whilst not truly putting ourselves out there. Ever watched as your colleague gets a promotion or opportunity you feel you deserved more? Well, chances are all they did was put themselves forward and ask for it. Among the many lessons you can learn from this force of nature, the overall vibe behind the mission for Sheryl's foundation and her book Lean In is to seize opportunities when you want them and, well, lean in.

While she may be an advocate for women in business and this is a key component of the book, the sentiment is relevant to anyone trying to push their career forward. Often we are surrounded by opportunities but just lack the clarity to grab them. On her website leanin.org Sheryl encourages graduates to adopt the mantra 'Proceed and be bold'. She explains:

'Adopt the same principle for opportunities at work. Let your manager know you're interested in stretch assignments and keep your eyes open for projects that will allow you to make your mark. Shift from thinking "I'm not ready to do that" to thinking "I want to do that—and I'll learn by doing it.'

 

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2. Steve Jobs: just focus on one thing at a time

 

Your focus determines your reality - Qui-Gon Jinn, The Phantom Menace

A man that needs no introduction, Steve Jobs was of course the co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc but also an American entrepreneur, businessman, inventor, and industrial designer. There are many things you could learn from this dude, but one of his key leadership insights was to simplify and focus on one product at a time.

When he returned to Apple in 1997 they were producing a bunch of Macintosh versions and differing products. After weeks of product review sessions Steve lost his patience. "Stop!" he shouted. "This is crazy." He grabbed a Magic Marker, padded in his bare feet to a whiteboard, and drew a two-by-two grid. "Here's what we need," he declared. Atop the two columns, he wrote "Consumer" and "Pro." He labeled the two rows "Desktop" and "Portable." All they needed to do was focus on 4 great products and the rest should be cancelled. There was a stunned silence, however by getting Apple to focus on making just four computers, he saved the company.  Later on in his career he was quoted as saying:

'Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do… That's true for companies, and it's true for products.' 

So, if you are procrastinating over your next step in your career or currently battling with a complex approach to product or brand ideation in your company - perhaps you can have your Jobs moment. Be brave, be diplomatic, but go forth with the confidence to make life simpler.

 

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2. Mark Zuckerberg: there's more to life than money

 

To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not. In this war, a danger there is, of losing who we are. - Yoda, S1 E10 Lair of Grievous

So, rewinding back to that lovely visual we had earlier of hotties drenched in champagne on your yacht, the predominant ingredient to get you to that point is probably money, right? While those things do require mulla, singularly focusing on money as an end goal is not likely to result in success.

Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in his University dorm with a bunch of mates because he saw the opportunity. However, the idea also stemmed from heartbreak and a desire to create something new and innovative. To further prove his commitment and love for Facebook, he declined a billion dollar offer from Yahoo in its early days. Not many people would have the guts to do that but Mark continued to believe in what he had created.

Loving what you do is key if you want to be successful. If you love what you're are doing in business then you will work harder and have more staying power to make it the distance. A tip from Mark himself is to continually check in with yourself, in a Forbes article he said:

'The question I ask myself like almost every day is, "am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?" ... Unless I feel like I'm working on the most important problem that I can help with, then I'm not going to feel good about how I'm spending my time.'

 

4. Reed Hastings: learn from your mistakes

 

Your predecessor once made the mistake of questioning my orders, Admiral, surely you're not so foolish as him to commit the same mistake -

Darth Malak, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

For the Co-founder and CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, not all of his lessons on business were learnt in the workplace. One of Reed's greatest source of wisdom was actually his marriage counsellor. He was overworked with a new baby and his counsellor forced him to recognise his warped values and accept that he cared more about the success of his business than his marriage. His wife was able to forgive him because he was honest about it.

From this he discovered that facing the truth, even when it is uncomfortable, is essential to success both personally and professionally. In the past, following a mistake he would implement a new process to avoid repeating it, which seems like a logical approach. Yet this was in itself a mistake that lead to a restricted working culture. Through these experiences, Reed discovered the importance of not making the same mistakes over and over again. In a VentureBeat article he said:

'There's a ton of lessons I've learnt over two companies...The great thing about being a serial entrepreneur is that you get to make different mistakes the second time.'

Reed was determined to do things differently for Netflix and create a different kind of culture. Instead of resolving complexity with process, he decided to give employees more freedom and responsibility. The result is pretty epic for the employees, who, among other benefits now don't have a fixed limit of vacation days per year. While many businesses would worry this would lead to uncontrollable absence, they rarely take advantage of this freedom. The point is that anyone who loves their job just wouldn't. As Reed points out:

'We also don't have a clothing policy, but nobody has come to work naked lately.'

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5. Arianna Huffington: remember to unplug

Beep beep boop - R2-D2

Media mogul & self-made millionaire Arianna Huffington recommends entrepreneurs always remember to connect with their own wisdom and creativity. Easier said than done right? She believes that our addiction to technology is clouding the opportunity to do this.

Looking back on her professional life Arianna wishes she had known there would be no trade-offs between living a well-rounded life and her ability to do good work. If only she had know then that her performance would actually improve if she could commit to not only working hard, but also unplugging, recharging and renewing herself. Making time to unplug may seem like a low priority, but it will actually save you a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout and exhaustion. In a CNBC article she said:

'Seventy percent of people sleep with their phones by their beds; we are constantly engaging in notifications, social media, texts, emails. And yet the most creative moments come when we put all that aside. That's why sometimes people's best ideas come in the shower… So as an entrepreneur, make time for that reflection, ability to connect with your best ideas, and not to be constantly distracted.'

Are you all work and no play? Or perhaps still following the old adage 'hard work pays off'. It does, but it's in the space where we breathe and reflect that new ideas and ingenuity can surface. You heard the woman, make some time and unplug… well, finish this article and then unplug. No need to be rude. 

Go forth a conquer in your career

Do or do not. There is no try -  Yoda.

Whatever your ambitions or goals there are strong forces in the world willingly sharing their wisdom. While they may seem like a distant success story, all of these entrepreneurs and successful business people were probably scared at some point. They had good days and bad days. They were more than likely doubted and they definitely would have failed along the way. Yet they persevered and simply took risks and moved forwards in spite of their fears.

There will never be one route to success or one ladder to climb, but enjoy the adventure and keep swinging those trees until you find your next opportunity. As Sheryl Sandberg puts it:

'Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.'

For more inspiration you can also check out our career advice blogs or watch some motivational ted talks.

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