10 CEOs and Founders Share the Best Advice They’ve Ever Received

Business owners sometimes wish they could go back and give advice to their younger selves. Some lessons, although valuable, can be difficult for founders to have to learn the hard way. Below, 10 CEOs and founders running multi-million dollar companies share the best advice they’ve ever received.

1. Resist the Urge to Compare Yourself to Anyone Else

Daisy Jing, founder of skincare Banish, warns, “Don’t compare yourself to other’s highlight reels … put yourself heads down on your business, and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Set daily and weekly goals for yourself and keep your eyes on the prize. Before long, you’ll be a lot further than you’d ever thought possible.”

2. Keep Your Priorities Straight

Jonathan Long, founder of digital marketing agency Market Domination Media, says, “Business opportunities will always be there, but your family and friends will not. Be dedicated to your business, but don’t let it pull all of your time away from the people that matter to you.” He adds, “Deep down I know this, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in a business, especially if it’s new, that I have to circle back around to this advice. I think it’s something all entrepreneurs have to be reminded of at some point.”

3. Don’t Look For A Series Of Quick Fixes

Sarah Schupp, founder of the parent-focused, on-campus resource UniversityParent, says, “There’s no such thing as a silver bullet. It’s such a cliché, but I often believe that something new—a new client, new software, a new employee—will create an overnight impact, and then I feel disappointed when the new thing doesn’t overwhelmingly exceed my expectations. Instead, I remind myself of Jim Collins’ advice in Good to Great that ‘Success comes from many tiny incremental pushes in the right direction.'”

4. Be Leery Of Offering Up Equity Early On

Kyle Goguen, founder and CEO of online pet retailer Pawstruck, warns, “Giving up equity early on can be a big mistake. Obviously this advice varies depending on what type of business you are in and your goals; but in general, avoid handing it over in lieu of money. Finance your business in a different way and be confident in yourself that you’ll make your new business a success. Years from now, you’ll be kicking yourself for giving up a portion of your business.”

5. Invest In Your Employees For Maximum Return

Kate Hancock, founder of OC Facial Care Center spa, says, “Get to know your employees on a personal level. People will do anything for you if you get to know [them] and connect [with them] on a personal level.”

6. Know When Good Enough Is Good Enough

Rebecca Devaney, CEO of innovation agency Hunter Creative Labs, says, “There is [an] architecture term, ‘satisfice,’ a combination of ‘satisfy,’ and ‘suffice,’ that essentially breaks down to 80% of the perfect solution is the optimal solution. In other words, you can spend your life getting something ‘perfect,’ or you can get it out there, get feedback, and iterate then. Lives are wasted in the pursuit of perfection, rather than the ugly truth of just getting it done.”

7. Put Your Money Where Your Business Is

Kenny Nguyen, CEO of creative agency Three Sixty Eight, says, “The best advice I’ve ever received is to always pay for your own product. If you can’t do that, then you haven’t built something you’ve loved enough. This advice has led me to always buy tickets full-price at events we throw.”

8. Take Care Of The Tough Stuff First

Laura Mignott, co-founder of NYC-based agency Digital Flash, says, “Take your medicine. Do all the tough stuff first. Don’t put it off because it’s uncomfortable.” If you find yourself making to-do lists padded with easy items just for the satisfaction of crossing things off, read this paragraph again!

9. Know Your Own Secret Sauce

Chris Van Dusen, founder and CEO of digital conversion company Parcon Media, says, “Really understand what makes your product/service/company different and double down on that. Your UVP (unique value proposition) will be what truly defines you.”

10. Put Your Ego Aside When Hiring Staff

Matt Cheuvront, founder and CEO of branding agency Proof Branding, says, “Hire people that are smarter than you. While it’s tempting to hire people that you think you can mold and shape to be your perfect employee, there is great value in hiring talented professionals who will challenge and push both you and your team to work harder, better, and more creatively.”

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