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The dictionary definition of an entrepreneur is someone who operates a business, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. Despite this simple definition, many are unsure what, in practice, an entrepreneur really is or what they do.

Here to help elucidate the definition are twenty-five infamous and successful entrepreneurs, each describing who they are and what they do. They will tell you what, and in some cases who, is important when you’re either on the road to becoming an entrepreneur or once you’ve become an entrepreneur.

We hope their words (as well as ours!) will inspire.

The Road to Entrepreneurship

1) “It starts with not having a hangover with the way things used to be.”

Kevin Plank is the founder and CEO of Under Armour. He started by selling his product out of his car. He’s now a billionaire.

2) “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.”

Scott Belsky is an American entrepreneur, author and early-stage investor known for co-creating the online portfolio platform, Behance, Inc, a company intent on finding and showcasing creative work on the web.

Belsky was named in Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” list and, after Behance was acquired by Adobe, went on to become Adobe’s Chief Product Officer, Executive Vice President for Adobe Creative Cloud.

3) “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Edison was an American inventor and businessman who has been described as America’s greatest inventor. He developed many devices in fields such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures. His most infamous invention, the lightbulb, was paved with failure.

4) “It is always the start that requires the greatest effort.”

James Cash Penney is the founder and CEO of the well-known J.C. Penney stores. He originally attended college in hopes to become a lawyer, but his father’s untimely death forced him to change plans. After working for a small chain of stores, he was able to invest his money and open a small department store. The rest is history.

5) “There is only one success- to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

Christopher Morley was an American journalist, novelist, essayist and poet who produced stage productions and gave college lectures.

6) “If you tune it so that you have zero chance of failure, you usually also have zero chance of success. The key is to look at ways for when you get to your failure checkpoint, you know to stop.”

Reid Hoffman is the cofounder of LinkedIn, a business-oriented social network used for professional networking. He is currently a partner at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners and is worth $1.8 billion.

7) “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Peter Drucker has been described as “the founder of modern management.” His writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation.

8) “There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it, for whatever success I have attained has been the result of much hard work and many sleepless nights.”

Madam C.J. Walker was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist. Walker made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of cosmetics and hair care products for black women through the business she founded, the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She is recorded as the first female self-made millionaire in America in the Guinness Book of World Records and is known for her philanthropy and activism.

9) “If something is important enough, or you believe something is important enough, even if you are scared, you will keep going.”

Elon Musk is the founder, CEO, CTO, and chief designer of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla, Inc, co-founder of The Boring Company, and one of the richest people in the world.

10) “I can name dozens of failures that we had over the years. Yet, with all these failures, we still managed to build Appster into one of the largest, and best companies in our industry. So, remember every time you fail, remind yourself these words: ‘Life won’t always go my way, but I will always find a way.'”

Josiah Humphrey is the co-founder of Appster, an Australian app development company. Founded in 2011, Appster developed mobile, web and wearable apps for startups, public figures and enterprises. It was touted as the “next Apple” before collapsing in December 2018.

11) “As a founder, lay all the possible scenarios — from best to worst — in front of you, so you don’t get surprised when something happens.”

Brian Wong, a Canadian Internet entrepreneur, co-founded Kiip, a mobile app rewards platform that lets brands and companies give real-world rewards for in-game achievements. He was CEO from 2010 to 2019.

12) “I never took a day off in my twenties. Not one.”

There’s a reason you know his name. The co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates has an estimated net worth of $129 billion, making him one of the three people in the world with a net worth exceeding one hundred billion dollars.

During the 1970s and 80s, he led the microcomputer revolution and, since then, has focused his philanthropic efforts on combating climate change, global health, and education.

Being an Entrepreneur

13) “Success is not what you have, but who you are.”

Bo Bennett is the founder and CEO of, a company focused on eBook formatting, publishing, and distribution.

14) “Five days a week, I read my goals before I go to sleep and when I wake up. There are 10 goals around health, family and business with expiration dates, and I update them every six months.”

Daymond John is the founder, president, and CEO of FUBU, an American hip hop apparel company. FUBU stands for “For Us, By Us” and was created when the founders were brainstorming for a catchy four-letter word, following other big brands such as Nike and Coke.

15) “It’s very important for entrepreneurs to look for people in the company who are not afraid of failures, for example, intrapreneurs. They make a business more successful by thinking like an entrepreneur — but within a company.”

Chirag Kulkarni is the founder of Taco, a content marketing agency helping brands consistently deliver ROI on marketing dollars. He’s also a contributing writer at ReadWrite, and Fortune Magazine.

16) “Selling is not a pushy, winner-takes-all, macho act. It is an empathy-led, process-driven, and knowledge-intensive discipline. Because, in the end, people buy from people.”

Subroto Bagchi is the co-founder of Mindtree. He, along with nine others, founded Mindtree, a $1 billion global IT services company with approximately 20000+ people.

17) “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

Napoleon Hill was an American self-help author. He is known best for his book Think and Grow Rich (1937), which is among the 10 best selling self-help books of all time.

18) “If you are not getting traction on your idea, you try a few things. You try pushing harder, cleaning up something, building up to something aggressively — but if it doesn’t get traction, then don’t bother.”

Vijay Sharma is the founder of Paytm, a technology company based in India. Sharma himself was ranked as India’s youngest billionaire in 2017 by Forbes with a net worth of $2.1 billion.

19) “I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars — I look for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”

Warren Buffett is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, a company that owns, to name a few, GEICO, Duracell, Dairy Queen, BNSF, Lubrizol, and Fruit of the Loom.

20) “In the end, a vision without the ability to execute it is probably a hallucination.”

Steve Case is the co-founder of AOL, an American web portal and online service provider. You might be using it right now.

21) “I’m always tweaking, always trying to make it better, constantly moving the levers and dials.”

Steve Ells is the founder and co-CEO of Chipotle. He served for two years as a sous chef under Jeremiah Tower before opening a taco store in Denver, Colorado near the University of Denver campus using $85,000 borrowed from his family and friends. He served as CEO from 1993 to 2009.

22) “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”

Guy Kawasaki is the co-founder of Alltop, a website that aggregates all of the top news and information in real time.

23) “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.”

Richard Branson is Founder of the Virgin Group, a brand that has expanded into many diverse sectors from travel to telecommunications, health to banking, and music to leisure.

24) “Success depends on employees. For me, knowing and connecting with my employees is very important.”

Dr. Divine Ndhlukula is the founder and managing director of DDNS Security Operations Ltd, a holding company for SECURICO Security Services. Securico was the first Zimbabwean manned security company to be certified to the internationally acclaimed ISO9001:2008 Quality Management System and Dr Ndhlukula was named one of the most successful women in Africa by Forbes.

25) “Only the paranoid survive.”

Andy Grove was the former CEO of Intel. After escaping from Communist-controlled Hungary at the age of 20, he finished his education in the United States. There, he became the third employee of Intel, as well as its third CEO. Under his leadership, the company became the world’s largest semiconductor company.

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