Starting your own business is an adventure, but with hard work and perseverance you can see your effort turn into a great product. If you are thinking about starting your own business in the upcoming year, heed the advice of these 88 entrepreneurs who run their own companies.

Ryan Hulland
Monitoring Management (MonMan), President and Co-Founder, Netfloor USA Access Flooring
“You have to push through the first few years as you establish credibility and brand awareness. It takes heart, determination and a lot of hard work.”

Phillis Chan
Co-founder, Big Apple Buddy

“Know your market and define your niche. It’s important to understand the competitive landscape you’re going to play in, what your key differentiator is and who your target customers are. Once you know that, be disciplined in focusing on selling the distinguishing features of your product or service
to those that value them, and no one else.”

Alari Aho
Founder and CEO, Toggl

“I’m not a big fan of stupid effort. If you put in a lot of effort and end up with no tangible assets or value, you’re doing something wrong. Especially in a startup, effort never equals results. You need to make sure that you’re doing things that matter before making a big commitment in effort.”

Rob Biederman


“Only start a business if you are deeply passionate about solving the underlying problem for your customers. If you aren’t, the money (there isn’t
much) and the hard work (there’s a lot of it) will beat you before the idea catches on. If you’re passionate, the money and hard work won’t bother you at all.”

Billy Bauer
Royce Leather

“Start with the easiest way to generate revenue, even if it isn’t going to be the most profitable way in the long run. First, it is a great motivator to see money coming in as quickly as possible. Second, it is that revenue that allows you to grow the business without risking additional capital.”

Srajan Mishra
CEO, TSI International FZC

“The most important thing I learned from launching a business is not to go for fast and sudden growth. As a young entrepreneur, I focused on growth so much that I tried to take too many things and projects at once, just to try and grow at an exponential rate. However, most often this strategy is not productive and can also lead to spiraling out of control and eventually going bankrupt. Take it slow and steady initially, reach a milestone of stability and then take chances with growth in a controlled manner. Never let ambition cloud your judgement. Look at the bigger picture instead of just putting all focus on the present.”

Brendan Gibson
Co-Founder/ President of Relations of New Life ESL

“The number one thing I’ve learned from launching a business is that organization is crucial. Being organized makes your days easier and allows you Entrepreneur Headlines Torn from Paper What Every Business Persoto be more effective. Staying organized has taken our business to the next level. Our days are much easier, we forget much less, and we get so much more done.”

Dr. Daniel Margolin
New Jersey Foot & Ankle Center and Effective Management

“Spending the time getting the right staff is so important! This is probably the biggest mistake most entrepreneurs make. They hire the first person that walks in the door. Steve Jobs, one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time, said that one of the secrets to his success is that he personally interviewed over 5,000 employees.”

Katy Payne
Company Director, Bosom Galore Ltd.

“Take time off to allow your brain to think creatively. It is very difficult to direct a business if you are immersed in tasks. My most creative and
essential ideas and solutions occur when I am not working, for example when I’m gardening, relaxing, or talking to friends.”

Paige Arnof-Fenn

Founder and CEO, Mavens & Moguls

“My biggest work regret is not getting rid of weak people earlier than I did in the first few years of my business. I knew in my gut they were not up to snuff but out of loyalty to them I let them hang around much longer than they should have. It would have been better for everyone to let them go as soon as the signs were there. They became more insecure and threatened as we grew which was not productive for the team. As soon as I let them go the culture got stronger and the bar higher. A team of stars likes to be surrounded by other stars.”

Marc Isaacson
Isaacson Web Development, LLC
“The single most important thing I have learned from launching a business is the value of my time. It’s far too easy to be penny-wise and pound foolish by trying to learn everything on my own and do everything on my own. While it may appear that I’m saving money by not purchasing something or paying somebody else to help me, it’s often actually costing me a great deal of money in lost time and revenues.”

Andrea Berkman-Donlon
Founder, The Constant Professional

“Personality counts. You can’t understate the importance of being honest and personable. This is my business—I don’t have a steady paycheck I can rely on. Therefore, everyday must be my best day and I always have to put my best foot forward. Always be the constant professional.”

Chris Brantner

Mr. Cable Cutter

“You need to set up processes that are scalable from the get-go. I think it’s easy to jump right into something and kind of fly by the seat of your pants. But when your venture takes off like ours has, you suddenly have to deal with something much larger than you anticipated. This website that began as a side project quickly grew into a full time venture with 4 employees. We’ve had to go back and rethink and remap some processes so that they will work on a much bigger scale.”

Chris Bryant
Creative Director/Principal, Empire Studios

“When starting my business, I learned that you can never have enough knowledge on a topic. As soon as you think you know everything there is to know about something, you’re already starting to fall behind. Subscribe to (and READ) industry newsletters, magazines, participate in relevant Twitter chats, get involved with LinkedIn groups, and network in real life via and other such sites. Never stop learning and reading—today’s world is moving much too fast to become complacent.”

Juanita Hines

Regional Consulting

“Focus on what you do best and do it. As an HR Consultant, I have to focus on the type of clients I want to serve and serve them. Don’t add things you
aren’t good at; instead be the best of the best at your craft.”

Lisa Baker-King
Author, coach and small business expert

“Running your own business takes true commitment. It means not giving up when the going gets tough and trust me, the going will get tough. Commitment can take you places that no business plan will. Credibility matters: I’m not saying you have to already have a name for yourself to start a business, but you do need to have to have an authentic voice. This is what is going to set you a part from the competition. This is the clear, concise and consistent messaging that will represent your brand. It will become the ‘why’ behind people wanting to do business with you.”

Lauren Foster
Founder/CEO of Stretch Recipes Inc.

“You need people and you need to tell them that. You will have to fire people, hire people, and ask for help. If someone doesn’t like you, there’s Entrepreneurship infographics
nothing you can do about it, but it can be a detriment to your business as they won’t open doors. You have to keep knocking on doors until you find the right people who understand your mission and your values, and who share them.”

Jason Parks
Owner, The Media Captain

“You are never off the clock. After starting my agency, I soon realized that I will never be to just take a week off from work and have someone cover my assignments. When you run a business, there are tasks that need to be tended to that only the business owner can handle.”

Roger Wu
“The biggest lesson I learned from being an entrepreneur is that what you did before doesn’t matter. You need to stay humble and open because what you need more than money, technology, or anything else is buy-in from others. People hate working with know-it-alls. I’ve come to see the value in diversity, difference of opinion, and in valuing others viewpoint even if they are very different from my own.”

Makeda Mutema-Newton
Newton’s Cab Co, LLC
“It’s always more expensive than you thought it would be. When my husband and I decided to open a taxi business, we thought the money we made would be strictly profit, but we learned very quickly that wasn’t true. Before anything else, we put our initial expenses on a spreadsheet so that we’d know how much money we needed to budget for our opening. For us it was a hefty sum, but we were not discouraged. We saved the money, bought our car cash and opened for business. The expenses continue as you make money—another harsh reality. Despite all of that, the reward of being a business owner is just priceless!”

Barry Maher
Speaker, author, consultant, Barry Maher & Associates

“Never forget that it’s all about the customer, not about the entrepreneur, their product or their company. This means finding out about the customer is far more important than explaining that deal of a lifetime you want him to believe you’re offering.”

Seb Dean
The Imaginaire Web Design
“The biggest thing that I’ve learned in business is to pay yourself in direct proportion to the performance of the business. It keeps you hungry and
motivated, and eases the strain on your finances.”

Kevin Liu

Operations Manager, Adorlee Beauty Inc.
“One thing I learned from launching a new business is the importance of testing your market. When we first started, I thought we’d be selling right to female customers. After one terrible month, we changed our strategy to focus on wholesaling to businesses. Find the right customer; if B2C doesn’t work for you, B2B may be the answer with an even narrower margin.”

Madeline Johnson
CEO, Marketing and Public Relations, MJMPR

“Be ready to adapt, pivot and adjust, constantly. Your original idea for your business, whether it be a service or product, will never be your final go to market idea. Listen to your critics and analyze their feedback. Some will have great value. Don’t let your ego get in the way.”

Tim Rolston
Co-founder, JTRTech, LLC

“Patience and perseverance are key. When you start out, you think it’s going to be easy. After all, you’re good at what you do and so many people need your help, right? While that may be true, it will take longer to start attracting customers and establish yourself than you think it should. This is when reality hits and perseverance is important. You will feel like giving up many, many, times. Don’t. I don’t mean you should keep plowing blindly ahead if something is fundamentally not working. I mean you should keep working at it. Make necessary changes in order to succeed.”

Natalie Monaco
President/Inventor, Covermade

“When one door closes, find the next-best door. It will seem like the entire world around you is always saying NO. Sure, the ‘no’s’ may get you down a little at first, but ultimately you can choose to turn that down feeling into motivation. If you are hearing ‘no’ often that means you are doing what you should be doing: working towards finding your ideal partners and qualifying them as a fit. For every rejection, for every ‘no,’ you are one step closer to a hard-earned, well-qualified YES! Not everyone will be a fit, and that is okay.”

Ryan Danz
Founder, Air Concierge

“Stay away from spammy, invasive lead generating tactics, even if it would result in conversions. It’s slimy, it’s damaging, and it will leave you feeling
the same internally and externally. Instead, become an expert in a finite area of your startup ecosystem. It will lead to better social media interaction, differentiate you from competitors and paint you and the company as a specialist where competitors might be thought of more generally or not at all.”

Naresh Vissa
Founder and CEO of Krish Media & Marketing

“The best businesses are profitable from Day 1. The second best businesses are great at raising funds and turning those funds into higher valuations. Money is supposed to compound, but only once you have enough of it. Anything below that threshold is bound for waste. Either return it or save it up. But don’t spend, because that’ll be the end of it.”

Will von Bernuth
Block Island Organics Non-Toxic Suncare

“Emotional fortitude is an entrepreneur’s most important characteristic. The press always talks about the mechanics of a startup. How the business started small, raised money, possibly pivoted their business model and so on but rarely do you hear what it takes emotionally to go through this process. I firmly believe the hardest part is simply showing up everyday no matter how the prior day went. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed and give up. If you can weather the emotional toll and keep pushing the rock forward day after day, your chances of success increase exponentially.”

Bill Fish

Founder and President of

“Having started a few businesses, I’ve learned that it is a special feeling to be able to create jobs. Sure, its nice to be able to take care of your family, but to start something that can help others provide for their family is something that never entered my brain before going through the process. It may be small, but to me its the definition of the American dream, to create something that provide for others.”

Julie Austin
Create for Cash
“Unlike working for someone else, all decisions fall on you. Other people are looking to you for the answers and sometimes you may not always have them. I was a reluctant leader who just wanted to license my product and take a royalty. When that didn’t happen I had to manufacture my product and do everything myself. When I started getting distributors and employees I realized there was no going back. Suddenly other people were depending on me for their income. That’s a lot of responsibility.”

Samantha Cohen
Neon Bandits
“One of the biggest lessons I have learned is the power of a conversation. So often, we get lost in our heads and our tasks, lists, etc. and it’s easy to sit behind a computer and bang out email after email. But a conversation—on the phone or in person—goes so much further and is far more personal than even the most creative and thoughtful notes. And yes, sometimes it is uncomfortable, and you need to pump yourself up to make a scary phone call or walk into a place and introduce yourself blindly, but the payoffs far outweigh any awkwardness.”

Successful business strategy plan

Brianna Stiklickas

Founder and CEO of Meet Eugene, Inc.

“It is never too early to start talking to customers. You need to get their thoughts and opinions, you need to learn from them, you need to find out what they like and what they want. It is important to be flexible in your vision—they are the ones buying from you, so make sure it is what they want, not what you want them to want. I learned this early on and this is what spiked my realization of focusing on the benefits rather than the features. Learning this made me more receptive and open-minded; sometimes the best products are altered and created based off of feedback from customers.”

Nick Santora
CEO, Curricula

“One of the early mistakes I learned while running a web advertising company was to not get involved in the everyday operations of the business, but to learn how to manage the everyday operations instead. I started by trying to answer every single customer support email, issues, sales, etc. when I had already hired someone to do that for me. My recommendation is as a business owner it is imperative that you manage the business, and allow others to run it.”

Esti Chazanow
LIV Swiss Watches
“Take everyone who reaches out to you seriously. As a business owner, you will be inundated with emails from people who want to do business with you. A lot of these emails may appear spammy, but don’t be fooled! These people are usually reaching out to you because they see some potential alignment between you and them, so it’s worth reading and considering their proposals. During our initial launch we were contacted by a huge watch and fashion influencer who follows Kickstarter; he ended up promoting us early on in our campaign and we immediately saw a spike as a result of his one promotion.”

Gary WaterField

Founder and owner, WaterField Designs
“Be passionate about your product. You must create something you truly love and would be excited to use yourself. This passion is critical to success.”

Jeremy Durant

Business Principal, Bop Design
“When launching and growing a business, always make decisions based on confidence, not fear. Fear will cause you to select the wrong clients, hire the wrong employees, fail to act, etc. If you are confident about the future of your business, you will act decisively and make investments that will pay dividends in the long-run.”

Ernie Bray
CEO, ACD Technology and Claims Services

“All things lead back to the people you hire. At first during a startup, you personally may be involved in many activities while wearing various hats. Problems arise, however, when you begin to scale and don’t have the right people in place. Easy hires and those who may not fit when your small will have their weakness become glaringly obvious during your growth phase. So while you may be focused seemingly 100% on getting new business and building your product or solution, it’s absolutely vital to take a deep breath and put some extra effort into interviewing potential candidates well to find the right team player who can really help your company.”

Michael Krasman

Co-founder and CEO, UrbanBound

“Not only is culture the cornerstone of building a successful company, it also gives us a competitive advantage because it creates an environment where innovation is nurtured. To successfully build the culture you want, you have to establish your core values as an individual and as a business, and make sure you hire people that share those same values. It is when these values are not only understood, but
implemented, that you get the innovation you are looking for. Far too often, companies create core values and then never re-visit them; this is a mistake. Your employees need to live and breathe your core values.”

Valerie Koenig

Certified Facilitator, The Alternative Board

“When starting my business, I didn’t realize how much I needed to invest in marketing and administration. A new business should allocate at least 25 percent of their time and money to these items. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen business owners long for greater revenues with little or no marketing program in place.”

Nihar Suthar
Hype Up Your Day
“One lesson I learned from starting a business is to always have a 30 second pitch about what you do and what your business is about. People will always ask you these questions. Really work on perfecting this 30 second pitch, as it has to be powerful to draw potential interest to your business.”

Melanie Ocana

Co-owner, Rustico Tile and Stone

“Develop strong relationships and reputation. Relationships are critical to our business success – and it’s not just relationships with customers that matter. Relationships with suppliers, service providers and others keep us doing good business. It matters how people are treated.”

Meghan Khaitan

Founder, MyBuckleMate

“The greatest lesson I learned was that it is very important to figure out how to balance running a business with raising a family. I have to sometimes make trade-offs between investing in the company and ensuring the financial security of our family. It’s never easy making decisions with such high stakes. We sometimes have to forgo large, promising opportunities due to significant up-front costs. Like raising children, there is no playbook, but we do feel that having some skin in the game makes a difference. We are less likely to procrastinate and when we make mistakes and we are more willing to be upfront about what went wrong and discuss how to remedy them or do better the next time around. Corporate environments don’t always allow for that kind of candor and immediacy.”

Hao Jiang

Co-founder, CookieCutterKingdom

“The greatest lesson I learned was how important it is to set micro and macro level goals and take the time to reflect against those goals periodically.
It’s incredibly easy to get swept up in the day-to-day, so having checkpoints has been vital in making sure we’re being productive towards the right direction.”

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