Collected Advice to Self-Starters from the World’s Business Elite

You have to start somewhere, and the world’s best business women and men know that. Although you probably won’t own your own island or create an IPO next year, this advice is from billionaires that KNOW how to become a success. A few words from them rival the best business magazine or website subscription, hands down.

Donald Trump: Before he was “The Donald”

Now hold on, Donald trump wasn’t always the reality TV media hog. Go back twenty years and he was younger and 100% pure business. Although he might not be the best example in morality and political views (again, I won’t touch that), he personified the savvy-businessman of the 1980s. Best reason to listen to him? He never concentrated on the instant buck or steroidal profit. Instead, he concentrated on 15%, 30%, 35% returns, which is how real money is made. His advice:

Your passion is the key. You have to find a niche you are interested in. There’s no point in creating a computer consulting business if you have no interest in computers or consulting. Having sincere passion not only helps you create something unique and thriving, it also carries you when things are slow or tough.

Research isn’t for analysts. Trump spends hours every day simply keeping up with the latest news in real estate (although it seems more like his media image today). You should do that as well. If you want to start a business reviewing apps on the iTunes App Store, you better spend serious time researching the latest apps and trends. That’s true for ANY industry.

Richard Branson: “Screw it. Just do it.”

His infectious grin and his pathological need to always be different usually single Richard Branson out. Behind that boyish charm is a businessman who rose from a dyslexic below-average student to one of the world’s richest people. As generous with advice as he is with his ideas, Branson has ventured into a variety of fields, from record stores to mobile phone networks to space, and stands as the most innovative billionaire in the world. His advice:

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Be a people person: Good business means being able to delegate effectively. Find someone to trust early on and give them authority. Too many self-starters are obsessed with micromanaging, and micromanaging leads to slow growth and, eventually, stagnation.

Patience is a virtue. Too many self-starters are obsessed with quick, exponential growth. For a young business, that kind of growth is impossible (at least for a legal business). The first few years, simply stick with survival. Almost any small or medium-sized business should follow the five-year adage. Once you pass the five-year mark, then you stand a good chance of being around for the long haul. The vast majority of businesses don’t survive that long.

Oprah: A True Rags to Riches Story

On the opposite end of trump’s spectrum is Oprah, although she is no less polarizing. Say what you want about her, Oprah started out with virtually nothing and through monumentally hard work turned her name and image into a brand as recognized as Coca-Cola. She has turned her advice into a billion dollar empire that has spawned a cable network, magazine, bestsellers and…well, pretty much everything.

Sifting through her advice is like looking for a needle in a stack of needles. In fact, as smart as she is, she tends to dispense platitudes a bit too much (“Go for it!”). That aside, she’s got plenty of tips for young entrepreneurs. Her advice:

“You CAN have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” Oprah stresses patience when it comes to young startups, and it’s advice worth repeating. Few people in business experienced as many setbacks as she did, or had to literally work as hard to achieve real success. She believes that once you focus on the right vision, no failure or setback can limit you, and that every closed road is an avenue. Forgive my speaking in gooey metaphors, but sometimes you need those to balance the hardnosed advice.

You can’t just decide on an identity and stick with it. Oprah wasn’t always Oprah. She admits that herself. Although many billionaires would like admirers to think they woke up one day as an iconic persona, Oprah admits that isn’t the case. What she DID do is do what she thought was best AT THE TIME. She was honest with herself and although her vision constantly changed, it was always HER vision.

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