Our culture does a lot to encourage entrepreneurship, turning innovators into larger-than-life figures we love and respect.
Gates is synonymous with Microsoft, Musk with Tesla, and now more young kids are growing up with big dreams of business leadership – and the notoriety that comes with it. These days, it’s considered cool to start a company from scratch, which is great news for everyone.
But aside from the played-out platitudes we’ve all heard before, what materials can eager entrepreneurs turn to as they set out on their journeys to the top?
Here are a few go-to resources for entrepreneurs to rely on every step of the way.
Web Apps and Software
You guessed it, the best resources these days can be found on the web, from business plans and forums to applications available in-browser.
Believe it or not, you can start a successful company with a laptop and nothing else, and many young guns choose this minimal approach for convenience and clarity.
Just look at the entire Google Business suite of applications or the cloud-based Adobe software that requires no hard drive space or installation wait times. Ten years ago, this level of agility simply wasn’t an option for the entrepreneur crowd.
Now you just find a spot, connect to wi-fi, and you’ve got a portable business powerhouse in your backpack, ready for action nearly anywhere.
Plus, many online apps tools are highly adaptable and ready to scale, allowing you to build up your business without slowing down. This is critical to success in the modern remote work landscape.
“With 2021 being a year of uncertainty on so many fronts, one thing for certain is that a digital presence for businesses is absolutely paramount at this point,” said Rishi Kulkarni, Founder and CEO of Revv. “From generating leads, business paperwork to closing sales, a ‘feet on the street’ model is no longer scalable. Embracing and increasing digital footprint will be critical, especially for small businesses.”
When you can handle most business processes with just a few apps and sites, why not go all-in?
Books and Blogs
Knowledge is power to the young entrepreneur, and nothing beats reading to download essential information to your brain.
From old-school legends like Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill to contemporary gurus like Tim Ferris and James Clear, a great book can provide a lifetime of inspiration and instruction.
With the management strategies, mental strength, and visualization techniques from these books, you will soon become the entrepreneur you’re meant to be.
“My best tip for becoming a leader is to, quite literally, imagine yourself as a leader,” said Omid Semino, Founder and CEO of Diamond Mansion. “Confidence in yourself and your abilities to guide others is the most important aspect of leadership. It’s all about mindset.”
If books sound a bit too 20th-century, niche blogs can be found online that break down the nuts and bolts of business ownership and can even serve as small digital communities for like-minded thinkers. Subscribing to email newsletters of top bloggers can offer a daily dose of relevant info and inspiration.
The most successful entrepreneurs don’t just sit in the library studying, reading, and coding until they drop. They work jobs, live life, and look for ways to confront real problems that people face, mapping a solution with a superior product or service.
Look at how Apple and Microsoft made the computer personal, or how Tesla brought cool electric cars into the mainstream.
For some startup leaders, it helps to simply be in an industry for a long time and absorb the information directly from that environment. Only then will you see a new, better way to improve on a legacy system or come up with something totally original.
“Being in the same market yourself, it is very likely you understand your market position, and those of your competitors, than an outsider,” said TechCrunch Founder Michael Arrington. “The best startups generally come from somebody needing to scratch an itch.”
Experience and exposure are why many entrepreneurs start as rank-and-file employees before experiencing breakthroughs and revolutionizing industries.
Need to brush up on your cold-call sales techniques? Want to learn to code with zero experience? Did your marketing person just quit, and you need to pick up the pieces of your SEO campaign? Countless online courses are available across the web to teach you everything.
These days, a bachelor’s degree may not give you the jump-start you need to get going in the business world. In fact, it’s just the beginning. If you don’t have the time or cash to go back to the physical classroom, almost anything can be learned online if you know where to go.
When you embrace the idea of never-ending education, you become an expert in your domain and level up your abilities as a confident entrepreneur.
“Being a leader is about mastering your product or service,” said Jing Gao, Founder and CEO of Fly By Jing. “When you know what you’re talking about, people tend to trust your guidance.”
The best way to learn is through experience and failure, but online courses can fill in the gaps in your knowledge base as you go along.
Given that most social media content is drama and distraction, it’s easy to forget that sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are incredible resources for aspiring entrepreneurs.
You can build a following, connect with leaders in your space, and even sell products and services directly from these platforms.
There is so much to be learned on social media from influencers, industry leaders, and everyday people who participate in the online conversation. This is where entrepreneurs go to get inspiration, make connections, and map out strategies for their growing brands.
If you’re starting a business from square one, social media is where you should begin to get a lay of the land and network with the right people and ideas – the payoff can be huge.
“Social media allows you to build a community within your brand,” said Olamide Olowe, Founder and CEO of Topicals. “As a company, we have a focus on BIPOC and inclusivity within the skincare industry, and interacting with young girls and boys that feel heard through our brand is not only essential, but incredibly rewarding.
Movies and Docs
Inspiration can come from unlikely places, and entrepreneurs look for it everywhere. Even when they’re relaxing at the end of a workday, be open to new ideas that come while watching movies, TV shows, and documentaries. You never know when lightning may strike.
Many entrepreneurs have their eureka moment during downtime, exploring their personal interests and turning those unlikely ideas into gold.
“The film that changed my life and started me on this alternative protein journey is Cowspiracy,” says Aylon Steinhart, CEO of Eclipse Foods. “This film lays out the true impacts of industrial animal agriculture on the planet and was completely eye-opening to me.”
Be open to watching films that challenge your ideas and push the boundaries of what’s possible. You might just find the inspiration you’ve been looking for.
Podcasts and Vlogs
For busy people who want to take their content on the go, podcasts are an amazing resource. This is where you’ll hear inspiring stories, controversial opinions, and learn that top entrepreneurs are real people just like you.
With thousands of podcasts out there, you’ll need to do some digging to find ones that resonate with you, but the best shows can truly be life changing. If you have a modern business hero, just search for their latest podcast appearance and tune in.
“We believe representation is a powerful tool, and find those who have unique insights on topics and can talk about it in a very open and relatable way,” said Kennedy McDaniel, Founder and CEO of Banting. “A great podcast guest owns their perspective and can make it fun to talk about anything.”
Podcasts are primarily an audio format, but video is on the rise as well. Many business gurus produce regular vlogs on their YouTube pages for people to follow along and learn. Interviews, rants, hot takes, routines – video gives a glimpse of the entrepreneur lifestyle and offers insights from the best in the business.