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12 Creative Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Business Advice

The best business advice from the likes of Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week, to Sophia Amoruso, Founder at Nasty Gal.

Throughout my career as an entrepreneur, I’ve launched physical products, built my personal brand in the name of scaling a freelance business, and have sold thousands of digital products.

However, none of my businesses have been overnight successes, and I didn’t get to where I am today, without having some massive failures along the way.

Right after picking apart the lessons from my own failures in the world of business, I’ve always had the most powerful learning experiences from connecting with successful entrepreneurs who’ve gone down the path ahead of me.

At CreativeLive, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to interact with and learn from some of the most prolific entrepreneurs of our time, with the goal of picking apart exactly how they’ve managed to create such powerful businesses.

Today, I’m sharing the best business advice from the likes of Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week, to Sophia Amoruso, Founder at Nasty Gal. We’re covering their single most impactful piece of advice, to help other creative entrepreneurs to take their business to the next level.

“Fail often.”Chase Jarvis

1) “The best business advice I’ve ever received was from the legendary Sir Richard Branson (an investor in CreativeLive and mentor/inspiration to me).

His simple but brilliant advice is to always manage the downside. When you prepare against catastrophic downsides (avoid ‘betting it all’ or ‘mortgaging everything’), it allows you to create a culture where you can take lots of small to mid-size risks, learn, and build.” —Chase Jarvis

Put simply, it’s exceedingly rare that greatness comes from a single blind all-in swing or a brash act. Boldness is required, but the boldness that sticks around to experiment regularly, to fail small and often, and cultivate a culture of risk-taking, is what generates the biggest wins in the end.

Chase is the co-founder of CreativeLive and is an award-winning professional photographer, director, artist, and entrepreneur.

“Choose your friends wisely.”Tim Ferriss

2) “The best advice I’ve ever received is: ‘You are the average of the five people you associate with most.’ I’ve actually heard this from more than one person, including bestselling authors, Drew Houston of Dropbox, and many others who are icons of Silicon Valley. It’s something I re-read every morning. It’s also said that ‘Your network is your net worth.’ These two work well together.” —Tim Ferriss

Tim, a 3x NYT best-selling author and CreativeLive instructor of The Four Hour Life, recently launched his brand new TV Show, The Tim Ferriss Experiment.

“Don’t give up, don’t take anything personally, and don’t take no for an answer.”Sophia Amoruso

3) Since founding Nasty Gal as an eBay store in 2006, selling vintage clothing, Sophia has transformed the business into a multi-million dollar empire with their own clothing line that was named the “Fastest Growing Retailer” in 2012.

Recently, the New York Times bestseller of #GIRLBOSS has stepped out of her role as the CEO of Nasty Gal, to become the Executive Chairman and shift her focus to overseeing just the creative and brand marketing functions of the business.

Without any fashion or business experience before starting Nasty Gal, Sophia credits much of her hard-earned success to her inability to accept failure as an option. “The people who told me no, were the people who eventually told me yes,” she explains.

“Invest in yourself.”Lewis Howes

4) “Grant Cardone told me to invest more of the money I make back into my brand and in myself. Always invest in you!”

Lewis is an accomplished former professional football player and lifestyle entrepreneur that’s taught thousands how to turn their passions into viable online businesses.

“Listen to your customers (while you still have the chance).”Guy Kawasaki

5) “I’ve had lots of good advice but this one is one of the best. ‘As long as people are complaining, they still want to do business with you. When they stop complaining is when you need to worry.’ It was from Marty Gruber, president of a jewelry manufacturer that I was working for in Los Angeles, way before my tech career.” —Guy Kawasaki

Guy is an immensely successful startup founder, best-selling author, and investor. He’s currently the chief evangelist at Canva, an online graphics design service that makes it easy to create graphics without any previous skills.

“Seek learning opportunities in everything.”Vanessa Van Edwards

6) "Every time you think to yourself, ‘I already know this’ or ‘This isn’t for me,’ try turning it around by asking, ‘How can I make this work for me?’ This instantly puts you into a learning mindset and helps you see opportunities everywhere. I learned this from Marie Forleo and it has fundamentally changed how I approach my business life.” —Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa is a brilliant behavioral scientist on a quest to teach people how to effectively communicate and accomplish their dreams. Check out her online class, Master Your People Skills

“Build a meaningful network.”Nir Eyal

7) “The most insightful advice I can remember receiving came from Andy Rachleff, who at the time was teaching at Stanford. He helped me understand the tremendous power of the network effect.” —Nir Eyal

Nir is a technology entrepreneur, speaker, and author of the recent best-selling book Hooked, already one of the most respected works on building powerful, habit-forming products. He has a great course on CreativeLive where he teaches how to create repeat customers for any type of business.

“Know your customers inside-out.”Tara Gentile

8) “I’ve learned to really think about who I actually want to sell to, instead of some generalization or profile of who might buy from me. Every time I’ve named individual people and created content with them in mind, those people have actually worked with me. No solicitation, just genuine connection by tailor-making what works best for them. Of course, I’ve also met many other amazing people who needed the same things.” —Tara Gentile

Tara is an entrepreneur and prolific business strategist. She teaches small and medium sized business owners how to truly unlock their potential and connect with their customers. Check out her in-depth class on Turning Your Service Into a Product.

“Seize incredible opportunities that come your way.”Sheryl Sandberg

9) “The best advice I ever received was from Eric Schmidt, when he was Google’s CEO & I was thinking about not taking the offer from Google. He told me that when picking a job, only one criterion mattered: fast growth. He said, ‘If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You just get on.” —Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer is very focused on empowering women to become leaders in business through her book and frequent speaking engagements with her organization, LeanIn.

“Never stop chasing your dreams.”Michael Port

10) “I asked a friend, who made more than 30 million dollars by the time he was 30, why he thought he was successful. His response: 'There’s all this money out there, someone’s going to pick it up, it might as well be me.’” —Michael Port

Michael is an accomplished entrepreneur, actor, author, and speaker. His Book Yourself Solid framework has helped many business owners and freelancers grow by getting the right clients that help them achieve their best work.

“Do great work and promote the hell out of it.”Derek Halpern

11) “The best business advice I ever received came from a simple quote from John D. Rockefeller. He said, ‘Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.’

Right now, we live in an overcrowded world, and if you’re not out there promoting yourself, you’ll never make an impact. That’s why this quote is so important. Do good work and promote the hell out of it.” —Derek Halpern

Derek calls this the “80/20 Promotion-Creation Rule”. And it’s the secret to his incredible successes in blogging and online courses.

“Success takes hustle.”Jon Acuff

12) Acuff, the New York Times bestselling author of five books, including Do Over, set out very early on in his career, to pursue meaningful work at all costs. For him, that meant 16 long years of being hired and fired, eventually finding his dream job, and finally launching into his own self-employed career as a writer, speaker, and brand consultant.

Accomplishing his dream of working for himself was no easy feat. It took a lot of hard work, focus, and hustle to grow his side business into something that could fully support his family.

As Jon puts it, “Hustle is an act of focus, not frenzy. Hustle is about subtraction and addition. It’s not about doing more, it’s about focusing on the things you need to do, in order to move your business forward.”

So, what business advice will you take?

If you’re still searching for the right business idea, then focus on seeking purpose-driven opportunities that live at the intersection of your passions and skill sets. The only way you’ll be able to make a meaningful connection with your customers is if you genuinely care about solving the problems they’re faced with on a daily basis.

For much more on starting and growing a successful creative business, check out Ramit Sethi in Money + Business for Creatives on CreativeLive.

Ryan Robinson is an entrepreneur, writer, and content marketer. On ryrob.com he’ll teach you how to start and grow a business while keeping your full-time job.

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