Elon Musk. Mark Zuckerberg. Richard Branson. What do all three of these incredibly successful entrepreneurs have in common?
They’re not magicians. They’re not superhuman demigods, preordained to change the world at birth. They don’t have divine powers that give them an unfair advantage in creating products or services that will make them billions of dollars. These entrepreneurs are just like you and I. And every day, they solve problems of all sizes.
What is an entrepreneur?
At their core, the best entrepreneurs are just phenomenal problem solvers with an insatiable drive for learning and solving what they set out to accomplish. There’s no reason why you can’t achieve or surpass their level of success.
I invented my first product while I was in college, taking a full course load and working a part-time job. It wasn’t easy, but because I was determined to make that product (which was a solution to a problem) a reality, I never gave up. That business eventually turned out to be a pretty epic failure. I did, however learn some valuable lessons from that experience. You can save yourself some serious struggles by reading How to Lose $6,537 and Create a Product Nobody Wants.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Accept the truth that we all sometimes fail and you’ll be miles ahead of most people. It’s what you learn with your failures that will grow to define you.
I’m fortunate enough to be in the heart of Silicon Valley’s tech industry, working at CreativeLive with talented entrepreneurs every day. I’ve seen exactly how much hard work and drive it takes to succeed. Despite how it may look outwardly, none of the world’s self-made business magnates, inventors, or successful entertainers have gotten to where they’re at without experiencing some embarrassing failures. What sets them apart is that they will never give up on their dreams, and they’re not fearful of trying a new approach.
Phenomenal problem solvers
Elon Musk has revolutionized payments processing (PayPal), a stagnant automotive industry (Tesla), and the tremendously complex aerospace industry (SpaceX) by the age of 43. Musk is determined to make transportation cheaper, more efficient, and accessible to everyone in the world.
Mark Zuckerberg has connected the world in ways not previously even imagined before Facebook came around. Zuckerberg has dedicated himself to getting the entire world online.
Richard Branson has brought a uniqueness and authenticity to countless industries through his Virgin Group, which is comprised of over 400 companies. Branson is on a lifelong quest to teach others and create opportunities for people to succeed.
Looking at these examples in a vacuum can give you a very warped perception of what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. It’s much easier in retrospect to look back and create a story that points to all of the reasons why certain people have risen to success.
As Malcolm Gladwell so elaborately showed us in Outliers, there are an incredible number of factors that go into creating the perfect environment for success. Having a winning combination of personality traits, being exposed to the right learning opportunities at the right time, and external life & societal events all play a huge role in making the probability of success more likely for certain people.
Create meaningful solutions
If you want to be an entrepreneur, don’t waste time analyzing your life events to determine your probability of success. Spend your time rather, on discovering your passions, learning as much as you can within your areas of interest, and seeking to create meaningful solutions to the problems you see in your space.
In 2014, the online education industry hit $56.2 Billion and that's estimated to double by the end of this year. Why? Because people are looking for online destinations to learn from. At CreativeLive alone, we've served up over 2 billion minutes of free online educational content to users in every country of the world. There are ample resources available online to help you build the skills you'll need in order to achieve your goals.
Above all else, understand that you are just as capable as Musk, Zuckerberg, and Branson, at bringing positive change to the world and creating a powerful business for yourself in the process. Discover your passions. Seek meaningful solutions to the problems you uncover. Help others achieve their goals. Never stop learning. Keep trying. Become a phenomenal problem solver and you’re that much closer to entrepreneurial success.