16 Startup Founders Share The Best Business Advice They’ve Ever Gotten


What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received and live by today?


The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit 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. Make Sales to Get Customers

“I learned from marketing guru, Dan Kennedy, that you make sales to get customers. You don’t get customers to make sales. There’s a huge difference in those two statements. We spend a lot of time optimizing our customers’ experience after the sale to maximize lifetime value, increase referrals, and attract positive reviews. “


Phil Frost, Main Street ROI



2. Get Off Your Spot

“”You can’t see the spot on which you’re standing.” This reminds me to get feedback from those outside of my situation (with a healthy filter) and remember to find perspective. “


Darrah Brustein, Finance Whiz Kids | Equitable Payments | Atlanta Under 40



3. Specialization Breeds Success

“Don’t try to boil the ocean. Focus on doing one thing extremely well, and execute on that impeccably. You need to be the best at something – not the best at everything.”


Brent Beshore, AdVentures



4. Communicate With Balance

“Use your mouth and ears in proportion.”


Eric Corl, Fundable LLC



5. Balance Your Life

“Balance your life. Success in business is nothing unless you are able to enjoy your personal life. Going all out in just one area guarantees regret and burnout.”


John Hall, Digital Talent Agents



6. Better to Disrupt Than Start Over

“It’s always better to disrupt an existing market than to create an entirely new one.
Existing markets are pre-validated, and companies in those spaces have already demonstrated that people are willing to pay for their products and services. This is half the battle.

All you have to do now is figure out a way to improve or more effectively market an already-proven product or service.”


Travis Steffen, WorkoutBOX



7. Get It Done

“Done is better than perfect.”


Ben Wagner, LifeKraze



8. No Man Is an Island

“No matter how hard you work or how bright you are, you’ll never be great at everything — and you’re stronger in a group than you are on your own. By understanding your weaknesses and surrounding yourself with smart people who are committed and empowered, you’ll create a solid, well balanced team that can weather any storm.”


Brendan Mangus, Habidy



9. The Only Failure Is Quitting

“The only way you can fail is by quitting. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes, but as long as you don’t quit you’ll eventually find a way to be successful.”


Wade Foster, Zapier



10. Enjoy What You Do

“Dale Carnegie once said, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” Every job has its good days and its bad days, but if you generally enjoy what you do for a living, you are much more likely to not only find financial success, but also happiness.”


Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC



11. Hire Up

“Hire people who are smarter, better, and faster than you; then get out of their way!”


Robert Sofia, Platinum Advisor Marketing Strategies, LLC



12. Always Have a (Signed) Contract

“You never know what might come up , so it’s always best to have a contract in place from the get-go. Even something as simple as your contact leaving the company in the midst of the program can spell disaster without a contract in place. Also, never get excited about a deal until the contract is signed- things can easily fall through between verbal agreement and a legal signature.”


Stephanie Kaplan, Her Campus Media



13. To Know the Answer, You Have to ask the Questions

“‘Entrepreneur and investor Shervin Pishevar shared a line at the Big Omaha event a few years that I try to remind myself of each day. Shervin challenged us to realize that “the answer is always no unless you ask.’

How powerful and true – how will we ever know exactly what someone will say, without asking the questions”


Jeff Slobotski, Silicon Prairie News



14. Do What You’re Good At

“It sounds like common sense, but it’s something my mentors still have to remind me of. For example, are you trying to be a tech company AND a community AND a content provider? Pick the thing you’re best at and can really excel in and look for strategic partners to help you build out the rest of the business platform you’re trying to create. “


Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World



15. A B+ is a Good Grade

“John Hennessy, President of Stanford University, once told me that — except for the most important tasks — you should delegate any work where you’re confident you’ll end up with a B+ product. It’s a simple idea, but it speaks to the cost of demanding perfection and the importance of letting go. This advice saves me from getting involved when I don’t need to, and reminds me to trust my team. “


Garrett Neiman, CollegeSpring



16. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

“I’m running a marathon and not a sprint. It takes 30 years to change the world, so it’s important to pace yourself as an entrepreneur. If you start planning beyond just your next quarter and look a little further on how you want to leave your legacy, you will do greater things in this world.”


Peter Nguyen, Advertiser360