business owner sharing tips

The best business advice from entrepreneurs: 6 tips for success

Reading time: 8 minutes

Entrepreneurship can be extremely rewarding, but it can also feel confusing and contradictory. A lot of that comes from the fact that every entrepreneur’s journey is unique, so you can’t look at somebody else’s progress and assume your journey will follow the same path. But that’s not to say you can’t get a lot of value out of talking with other business owners and learning from their experiences. Fellow entrepreneurs can offer the best business advice you can use to launch and build your fledgling business.

We surveyed Vista clients and leaders to discover their most valuable tips for entrepreneurs. We asked them what advice they would give themselves when they were starting out in business and what the best business advice they ever received was. Turns out they had a lot of helpful knowledge to share! A few key themes emerged: the drive to simply get started, the value of storytelling, being okay with failure (it happens), the importance of a business plan, having patience, and most importantly, embracing the fun of having your own brand. And they’re in good company, with Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart and Nolan Bushnell agreeing that these are the key ingredients for business success.

Table of contents

  1. Start right now
  2. Stay authentic to your story and values
  3. Embrace failure
  4. Make a business plan
  5. Be patient and persevere
  6. Remember to have fun!

1. Start right now

Small business owners can tend to be overthinkers; if that’s a label you identify with, you know how easy it is to get caught up in planning and analyzing instead of just doing. If you’ve been thinking about starting a business, instead of waiting for the ideal time or when you have the perfect plan with every single detail worked out, start it now. Well, once you’ve finished reading this post… 

  • Don’t overthink it. Don’t wait until everything is ‘ready’ or ‘perfect’ because you learn as you go. The problem solving is where you grow the most,” advises digital illustrator Christine Lee.
  • “Start now, perfect later” was a valuable piece of advice given to Kehmari Norman, founder of BLK FLWR MRKT, by friend and mentor Angel Gregorio.
  • This way of thinking “helps to combat the roadblocks that we create in our mind that affirm the misconception that internally screams, ‘I’m not ready, yet!’. Allowing oneself to start now releases that fear.”
company branding, including logo

Source: Ševarika via 99designs by Vista

There are many perspectives on getting your business up and running; we heard a lot of great insights from members of the Vista community.

  • “Begin with just a few products and build from there. This allows you to test the waters, hear feedback from customers and make any improvements before investing too much time and money. As your business grows and you gain more experience, you can gradually expand your products.” Georgina and Megan, owners of Wild Suenos
“Starting is the hardest part because you might feel like you have to have everything together and ready to go, but if you’ve ever tried anything in life you know that the journey is more important than the destination.”

– Mikayla Chin, digital artist and graphic designer, founder of MadeItMikayla

  • “Don’t be afraid to take the leap into the unknown, knowing that every successful entrepreneur was once a beginner just like you. Remember that even the most accomplished individuals started with humble beginnings.” Jess Monzalvo of SBJ Esntls
  • “It’s okay to not be fully ready to start, just putting yourself out there will make a huge difference! You’ll never know how far you can go until you take your first step.” Jess Scianna of Radically You

This piece of business advice is pretty universal, with many entrepreneurs echoing it.

  • “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari

So, as designer Mikayla Chin says:

  • “Set up that IG account, pick a brand name, share your products, and the rest will come in its own time.”

2. Stay authentic to your story and values

Your business is unique. It doesn’t matter if you’re one of 12 graphic design agencies in the city; you have your own story, values and unique approach to your craft that you bring to the market.

“Stay true to who you are and what you are passionate about – that’s what makes your brand unique!”

— Christine Lee, Digital Illustrator

Authenticity is at the core of everything you do and the key to connecting with the right audience for your brand. Don’t try to appeal to everybody, tell the authentic version of your brand’s story. Here’s what Vista entrepreneur Diana Angie of Benken Dreams had to say:

  • “Focus on your unique style; authenticity sets you apart. Develop a distinct style and share the story behind your creations, it’s the key to building a loyal customer base.”

Being unique in business is always a good thing; it probably means you break away from the status quo and have original authentic ideas. As the president of Shopify, Harley Finkelstein, puts it

  • “If you broke a lot of rules as a kid, you’d probably make a great entrepreneur.”
architect brand's brand value on a grey and red design

Source: Ian Douglas via 99designs by Vista

It’s important to figure out what your brand values are at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey. Stay aligned with these core values by always referring back to them when making important business decisions and partnerships.

Machée Kelly, founder and lead artist of Machee Creates, shared an intriguing take on navigating your business journey according to your brand values:

  • “Use discernment when deciding which opportunities to say yes to. Make sure that it is in alignment with personal and brand values.”

Authenticity is a key component of business success. Just ask Martha Stewart, American television personality, writer and mogul:

  • “I’m very clear that everything I do is authentic, practiced and viable—and the end result is generally beautiful.”

3. Embrace failure

In the business world, failure is never a bad thing. Although it can mean setbacks, failure is also one of the most valuable learning experiences an entrepreneur can face. It’s a loud, clear message about what doesn’t work, making it easier to pinpoint what you should tweak and reinvent for your next try. 

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

— Thomas Edison

Because failure is such an integral part of the entrepreneurship journey, it’s a hot topic among business owners! Here’s what Vista collaborators had to say:

  • “Embrace the fear of ‘failure’, and don’t be scared to ‘fail’ because failures are opportunities to learn and grow. Your ideas and trials might not always go to plan and that’s ok; it’s all part of the process and journey but don’t let it stop you from giving it a go. Growth happens outside your comfort zone.” Kim Tran-Flores, founder of Kimlligraphy
  • “Get ready to occasionally fail, but be just as ready to pick yourself up. It is extremely hard to become a successful entrepreneur, but you can’t let the bad times discourage you!” Ericka Mitterhofer, owner of Erickas Electric Edits

Even Oprah Winfrey agrees that failure holds the key to success! She advises entrepreneurs to:

  • “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

4. Make a business plan

A business plan is the most important document any fledgling entrepreneur will create. This comprehensive, multi-page document covers everything from your startup costs, product descriptions, budget, projected expenses and income, brand identity and daily operations. It’s the roadmap you’ll follow as you build and run your business.

three pages of a business plan

Source: ELynam Design via 99designs by Vista

Here’s what entrepreneurs have to say about why a business plan is so important: 

  • “The best business advice that I ever received, which actually led to the success of my business, is to always have a business plan. The plan should outline everything you want your business to achieve and for you to brainstorm methods to reach those goals. You should never rush into a business without a plan.” Chloe, fibre artist of EMI Creations
  • “A piece of advice I’d give to my younger self would be whilst winging it is fine and necessary at times, planning and strategizing makes your life so much easier in the long run!” Jess Sharpe of To the Moon
  • “An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements.” Scott Belsky, co-creator of Behance

5. Be patient and persevere

You can’t expect to become successful overnight. Entrepreneurship is playing the long game; expect to spend months, or even years, without an income. This is why it’s so important to have a comprehensive business plan and build up a sufficient savings net.

And if things don’t work out straight away, don’t be disheartened. Beraka Juice founder, Vanessa Kazadi, has these words of encouragement for new business owners:

  • “Be patient. Continue showing up.”
pastel-toned design featuring a tree in a circular logo with text around the perimeter

Source: Valentina Migliore via 99designs by Vista

Find motivation in what entrepreneurs have to say about persevering through the early days of business:

  • “I always tell people to be patient and persistent. The success of a business never happens overnight, it will take months for you to see results. So it is always important to manage expectations.” Chloe, fibre artist of EMI Creations
  • “Even when it’s hard, keep going. Don’t be afraid to stand out and go against the grain. Don’t compare yourself to others. Not everyone’s path of growth is the same.” Ashley Addison, owner of AMarieACreates

6. Remember to have fun!

Having fun is key to staying passionate about your business and nurturing its success. Sure, there will be long days, late nights and times when the stress makes you want to call it quits. But those moments should be outweighed by the delight that comes with knowing you created something unique and authentic and launched it into the world.

multicolored illustration featuring a woman’s face, “joy cometh” and small graphical elements

Source: kirsen via 99designs by Vista

Here’s what entrepreneurs had to say about having fun and being passionate in business:

  • “When it stops feeling fun or when you stop getting excited to create, take a step back. We all need breaks.” Ashley Addison, owner of AMarieACreates.
  • “Enjoy your business and be passionate. I went into my business with so much passion and drive that it doesn’t feel like a job. I’m enjoying every process and having fun.” Chloe, fibre artist of EMI Creations
  • “In the world of business, the people who are most successful are those who are doing what they love.” Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
  • “To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.” Thomas Watson, CEO of IBM

Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, it’s important to keep checking in with yourself, to make sure you’re still enjoying the process and having fun. If not, perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board; it might be time to pivot. Or turn to a business mentor or trusted friend—somebody who’s been there, done that, is your best source of support and fountain of advice.

Cultivate an entrepreneurial community

Learning from other entrepreneurs is one of the most valuable investments you can make. Do this before you start, as you launch, and in the months and years that follow, because you’re never done learning in business. The internet is a goldmine of resources and advice from successful business owners, so tap into it!