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Entrepreneurs: How they grew their businesses

Building and growing a successful business is not always an easy or straightforward journey.

There is no magic formula for scaling a business. What works in one industry might not for another.  An approach which was successful during a period of recession may not be as effective during a time of economic growth.

There are so many variables that there will always be various different routes to achieving business growth. However, by looking at some particularly successful entrepreneurs, there will always be lessons we can learn from their experiences.

Here are a few of our favourite examples of entrepreneurs who have grown some of the world’s most famous businesses.

Believe in yourself and your ideas

Believing in who you are and what you are trying to achieve is the key to success. So many successful entrepreneurs and business people will put their achievements down to doing something they feel passionate about, despite others thinking they were crazy.

Listen to advice and opinions but remember to trust your instincts. For example, when Uber introduced price surges for busy times, CEO Travis Kalanick faced opposition, but he stuck to his guns and dynamic pricing is now a key aspect of Uber’s business model.

Mistakes are simply opportunities to learn

Any successful business owner will be able to tell you stories about mistakes they’ve made. It may sound like a cliché but mistakes are absolutely part of the journey.

The key is to embrace them. Never dwell on decisions or actions when things have gone wrong. Instead, learn from every mistake and put that learning into practice. Elon Musk wouldn’t be where he is today if he’d hadn’t made mistakes – “If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

See opportunity everywhere

From treating a chance meeting as a networking opportunity to embracing feedback and criticism, making the most of every interaction and learning, as well as acting on it, can lead to incredible things.

Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, didn’t set out to build a global online auction site. He was initially selling some of his personal belongings on his own website but when web traffic grew, on what was essentially a personal project, he saw the opportunity and capitalised on it.

Be prepared to make sacrifices in the short term

We’ve all heard stories of entrepreneurs who didn’t pay themselves a salary in the early years or who missed out on any sort of social life for periods when they were establishing their business. Whether the sacrifices are financial or personal, it’s important to find a balance. Giving up the financial stability of a regular salary for a few years may be worthwhile if the business is profitable in the long run.

Running your own business isn’t always a quick route to personal riches. Even Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, only just broke even in the first year.


Technology develops, times change and customers’ expectations grow. The trick is to keep up. Whatever line of business you are in, being ready to progress and innovate will help to ensure that your business stays relevant. So many successful entrepreneurs believe that adaptability and willingness to innovate have been key to longer term success.

Alan Sugar, business mogul, initially made his fortune specialising in consumer electronics but stands as a perfect example of how an entrepreneur can diversify and evolve. His business ventures have been more varied than most, including everything from owning a football club to involvement in digital signage and property investment, not to mention his lucrative TV appearances – it’s fair to say, he’s done it all!

Find the right people and support them

Recruiting the right staff and building the right partnerships is important in any industry. Steve Jobs said he hired people who would fall in love with Apple because then they would always be committed to doing their best for the business. Having your own employees as brand ambassadors will do wonders.

Whatever your line of business, there is so much that can be learnt from observing the paths others have taken. If you are looking to scale up and grow a successful enterprise, all of the above are examples which can apply in any market and any industry. Growing a business will always have its ups and downs, but with the right attitude and support in place, anything is possible.

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