Counsel of Giants: A Quick Guide for Young Entrepreneurs

Advise to Young Entrepreneurs

Bill Gates. Elon Musk. Mark Zuckerberg. These titans of the tech and business industry routinely make headlines when their respective companies launch new products and services. They all visit Third World countries, too. But they have one other thing in common: They all started out young.

If you want to follow the same path as these titans, consider adopting the following insights:

“You’re never too young to be an entrepreneur.” – Sir Richard Branson

Branson was only 15 when he launched Student magazine. He now owns Virgin, one of the largest industrial brands with arms in telecommunications, banking, music, and now, commercial spaceflight with Virgin Galactic.

Branson says young people have historically produced great ideas and innovations. They take on challenges, that seem impossible, with energetic resolve. He recalls how his passion made him want to quit school, which his parents disapproved. Branson remembered how his enthusiasm moved his parents, and eventually permitted him to go ahead with his plan. The catch was that he had to do all he can to make the magazine a success.

The takeaway: Branson encourages sustaining your enthusiasm for business, and not letting your age be an obstacle in your grand plans. Your focus and motivation will sway skeptics in the pursuit of your dreams.

“Young people are better than old people at driving innovation, because they are not locked in by the limits of the past.” – Bill Gates

Bill Gates started out working with his friend Paul Allen at age 17 on “Traf-o-Data,” a result of his curiosity and awe at the potential of computers. He elaborates on this, recalling how computer science was in its early stages when he started Microsoft at age 19. They had to dream up big ideas and explore ways to apply them.

Gates went on to form Microsoft with Allen in 1975, creating a new era in digital business computing and consumer electronics.

The takeaway: You have theadvantage to discover new ways to do business. Use that sense of wonder and freedom to pursue paths different from those who came before, and create something new for future generations.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

Twenty-year-old Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer in his garage with Steve Wozniak in 1975. He trusted his instincts, and wielding his infamous temper, he brushed off critics who questioned his business decisions and stood true to his vision.

During Jobs’s 2005 Stanford commencement speech, he insisted that trying to be someone else is a waste of time. He suggests that trusting your inner voice will free you from the constraints of old-fashioned thinking and belief systems.

The takeaway: People will discourage you and be critical of your dreams and your duty is not to please them, but to fulfill your vision. Discover your passion and never waste time trying to re-shape it in response to other people’s opinions.

“People should be less risk averse, when there’s not much at risk.” – Elon Musk

In his 20s, Elon Musk dabbled in Internet-based services like Zip2 and, which would later become PayPal. As CEO of Tesla, he disrupted existing trends in automotive and battery technology, as well as interplanetary travel with SpaceX.

Musk notes on risk anxiety, where people are likely to place more concern on personal risk. He says people with families to feed should understandably worry about taking chances. But it’s baffling for young, fresh graduates to not take more risks, because they are not likely to starve in any modern economy.

The takeaway: Irrational fear of risk and failure cripples your potential, and are merely genetic self-preservation instincts. Your passion and ambition will unleash that potential and eventually materialize into success.

“No one does it alone.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg launched an early version of Facebook at age 20 with Dustin Moskovitz, Andrew McCollum, and Chris Hughes. Initially marketed to Ivy League schools, approximately 1.8 billion people all over the globe actively use Facebook today.

Despite being both Facebook’s brain and figurehead, Zuckerberg rebuffs any merit of being a one-man operation. He tells people to examine how an individual does not accomplish huge endeavors. Individuals need the support of a team to achieve goals.

The takeaway: When you take on everything on your own, it may not yield favorable business results. Instead, find skilled and motivated people to collaborate with, and work with likeminded individuals who will help you build a lucrative venture.

There is no better entrepreneurial advice to heed than from those who have experienced it all. For the young ones, your entire future and its infinite possibilities are ahead of you, so get something going.

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