Tips for Entrepreneurs and Startups from Successful CEOs

At a time when successful CEOs are considered historical heroes — Tony Stark is proof of this — and being an entrepreneur is the adult dream of those of us who dreamed of becoming astronauts as children, productivity gurus and businesses abound.

Sure, there are a plethora of podcasts and books that promise “the key to success,” but who is truly worth listening to in the midst of a sea of options? The solution is straightforward. We’re talking about those who have proven themselves to be at the top with multi-million dollar fortunes and long-standing reputations of successful CEOs, men and women who inspire future entrepreneurs.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tips from the world’s most successful CEOs that are well worth listening to.

Jeff Bezos

Follow the “two pizza rule”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos insists on keeping company gatherings small enough that he can feed everyone with two pizzas, no more than five to seven people. Furthermore, this man, who unquestionably tops the list of successful CEOs, dislikes visual slides. Instead, he insists on long written memos that are read silently by everyone in the room at the start of every meeting.

Warren Buffet

Write a to-do list

Warren Buffett prioritizes by making a list of 25 things he wants to accomplish, circling the five most important to him, and then deliberately avoiding attempting to accomplish the other 20 in order to avoid becoming distracted. The logic goes that you only have so much time, so why worry about anything other than the most important?

Arianna Huffington

Break away from isolation

Arianna Huffington, a critic of burnout culture, introduced nap rooms to the Huffington Post and also follows the 20-20-20 rule for screen time: for every 20 minutes spent staring at a screen, focus your eyes on something 20 meters away for at least 20 seconds.

Elon Musk

Work with a five-minute schedule

Elon Musk
Photo: AP

Elon Musk claims to work 80-100 hours per week, but hard work is meaningless if it is inefficient. That is why Elon Musk divides his schedule into five-minute increments. So, for every 20-minute meeting that lasts only ten minutes, he doubles his capacity.

Dan Price

Pay well… and something else

Dan Price, the founder of Gravity Payments, made headlines when he announced a $70,000 minimum wage for all of his employees, much to the chagrin of business pundits. Seven years later, it appears to have been a wise decision, as Gravity continues to grow.

Sheryl Sandberg

Don’t go before you go

For years, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has been preaching this. Essentially, even if you’re considering a career change, don’t leave the moment you decide. You may become stuck, and if you do not leave, it will be nearly impossible to regain your boss’s trust.

Tim Cook

Make the fortune of the company yours

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO at the time, asked the board of directors in 2012 to link a larger proportion of his salary—50 percent—to stock performance. Apple missed its annual targets back then, costing the company $4 million, as the company’s stock value fell 26 percent between August 2012 and August 2013. Apple’s faith in him, on the other hand, bore fruit. In November 2014, Apple stock reached an all-time high, and Tim Cook stock rallied multiple times. Valuable moves by successful CEOs!

Kylie Jenner

Keep your expenses to a minimum, as much as possible 

Kylie Jenner was running her makeup company with only 12 employees in 2020. Manufacturing, finance, distribution, and legal services are all outsourced. This lowers her operating costs and gives her more time to focus on the most important aspect of her business and marketing to her 356 million Instagram followers.

dr dre

Do anti-market research

Dr. Dre, the rapper, says he tries to keep up with the entire music market, listening to records from all genres but focusing on the unpopular ones. “It’s simple to take a hit record and figure out what people want to buy,” he told an interviewer. “Actually, I pay more attention to the bad that is fashionable because I want to know what not to do: the things that don’t sell.”

Bill Gates

Take one or two “weeks of reflection”

Bill Gates
Bill Gates. Photo: Reuters

Bill Gates has taken two weeks a year, known as “reflection weeks,” to stimulate new ideas by sitting down to read in a cabin in the Pacific Northwest of the United States since the 1980s. It’s similar to his “five hour” rule, which states that you must spend at least five hours per week learning something. It makes no difference.

Ilkka Paananen

Aim to be “not so powerful”

The co-founder and CEO of gaming company Supercell claims to be the “least powerful CEO in the world”—fine, but does this make him a successful CEO? Without a doubt. This means he has divided the company into fully autonomous “cells” of five to 18 people, each of whom is free to experiment with game development independently. Works? Clash of Clans was the fourth most downloaded game on the App Store between 2010 and 2018, so it must be true.

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