11 Entrepreneurs Reveal Their Biggest Influencers


Who has had the biggest influence on your business success so far and why?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.


1. The 5 People I Spend the Most Time With

“I firmly believe that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. As an entrepreneur, it’s critical to seek out people who can challenge you, motivate you and serve as mentors – lending an open ear to listen to your questions.”


John Meyer, Lemon.ly




2. My Customers

“Once you realize you aren’t very smart or very intuitive and actually ask your customers or prospective customers what they want/need, it completely changes your business. That’s been the key trick to any of my business success: listening to the boss (i.e. your customers).”


Eric Koester, Zaarly




3. My Family and Friends, Along With the Crowd at Mixergy

“Everyone can influence your business in some way; it’s never just one person. For example, my father is COO of a large retail company, my brother is an advertising executive and my best friend is a lawyer and tax accountant. Each have given me advice on different aspects of the business. Finally, Mixergy gives me access to stories and classes to implement effective strategies online or offline. “


Derek Capo, Next Step China




4. Our Customer Base

“No group has influenced our success more than our customers. Case studies, references, product feedback and referrals are the key parts to our growth engine and product strategy.”


Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics




5. Lemmy From Motorhead

“Lemmy from Motorhead discovered that he was passionate about music at a very young age and proceeded to start at the lowest rung of the music industry, working his butt off until he forged a career as a musician. When he created Motorhead, he was quoted as saying, “If this band moved in next door to you, your lawn would die.” I always liked that mindset applied to startups as well. “


Danny Boice, Speek




6. Our Existing and Potential Clients

“Our clients have greatly influenced the course of our business and led to our success. They have taught us what services we need to provide and how they should be provided. Through client feedback, we have learned how and where they see value – and shaped our service offerings accordingly. This has helped with client retention and continually helps us land new clients. “


David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services




7. My Mentors

“One great way to obtain a positive influence for a small business is to find yourself a mentor. It may be a previous business associate, a friend, a relative or even a complete stranger. This is the best way to get the advice and voice of experience that you need for your business to succeed.”


Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance




8. My Team

“If my team all decided not to show up to work tomorrow, we would be out of business! They are all better than I am at their jobs, and that’s what makes us successful. “


Jordan Fliegel, CoachUp, Inc.



9. Richard Branson

“Unlike many entrepreneurs who like to stand tall on a podium and say, “Look at me! I’m so smart!,” British billionaire Richard Branson took a different approach. In essence, he said it’s not about being smart. It’s about being bold and not being afraid to make mistakes. He suggests that it was his willingness to make mistakes (and continue to make mistakes) that made him a billionaire. “


Charles Gaudet, Predictable Profits




10. Seth Godin

“In 2009, I got the opportunity of a lifetime. Along with eight other people, I got a chance to learn directly from Seth Godin as part of an alternative MBA program he offered. Every day, we sat around a big table in Seth’s office and learned from the master of marketing and business. Since then, not a day has passed that I don’t remember a lesson or concept from those life-changing six months.”


Clay Hebert, Spindows




11. My Business Partner

“Entrepreneurship is hard and often lonely. It’s hard to know when you’re making the right choices, taking appropriate risks and moving in the correct direction. Without the constant support and encouragement from my business partner, Patrick, I’d be stuck in self-doubt and would worry too much of the time. Surround yourself with people who understand and support your goals and vision!”


Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems




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