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7 Things Insanely Rich Founders Want You to Know About Startups

By Larry Kim | Small Business

Life and business lessons from supersuccessful entrepreneurs.

Learning from the mistakes and successes of others can seriously cut the learning curve and give your startup a leg up on the competition.

These seven young millionaire and billionaire founders have been through the school of hard knocks and emerged as victors in huge ways. Take their lead and follow the advice of these insanely rich founders:

Sara Blakely, Spanx founder

Blakely famously said, "Embrace what you don't know, especially in the beginning because what you don't know can become your greatest asset. It ensures that you will absolutely be doing things different from everybody else."

She should know; in 2012, Blakely became the world's youngest female self-made billionaire. Her idea to experiment with pantyhose design that would look great with closed-toe shoes and still offer support would eventually grow into a multimillion dollar company.

Blakely had no idea in the beginning how things would go. She relied on her family and friends to help with product testing in her first year of development, then worked on obtaining a patent and eschewed industry norms with her creative packaging and branding. She trusted her gut and embraced what she didn't know, achieving $4 million in sales in Spanx's first year of operation.

Sean Parker, Napster co-founder

After his embattled service was acquired by Roxio in 2002, Parker went on to serve as the first president at Facebook and founded other companies, including Plaxo and Airtime.

"Your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur is not concealing your ideas from others or keeping your idea a secret, it is actually convincing people that you're not crazy and that you can pull this off," Parker has said.

A talented hacker and programmer early in life, Parker had ambitions that undoubtedly seemed lofty to investors and potential partners. He learned early on that winning their support meant taking risks and being open with his ideas.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder

"Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough."

It seems that every time Facebook is down, it's a news event. In fact, there are websites set up for the express purpose of telling people whether Facebook is experiencing an outage. Why is that? Because when Zuckerberg's creation is down, it's a crisis. People are so in love with his product that they actually get anxiety when they can't use it.

Isn't that incredible? Zuckerberg has been able to tap into the psyche of consumers worldwide in almost unheard of ways, because he and his team are constantly trying new things, testing features, and taking risks.

Even if it means they break things sometimes.

Andrew Mason, Groupon founder

Mason has said on startups: "You're building a tool, not a piece of art. Don't be blinded by the vision."

Entrepreneurs can get sucked into this trap of perfectionism quite easily. You're taking a huge risk--you don't want to fail publicly. Still, you have to be willing and able to get your product or service out there and test it in the market.

Don't focus so intently on your own vision of the perfect product that you aren't getting it out there at all. You're going to get valuable feedback and your users will help drive your next steps.

Pete Cashmore, Mashable founder

Creator of the wildly popular Mashable site, Pete Cashmore warns entrepreneurs to insulate themselves from the distractions sometimes created by others, regardless of their good intentions.

He's said, "You need space to try things and create. It takes a long time to recalibrate if you let people pull at you all the time. A lot of stress comes from reacting to stuff. You have to keep a certain guard up if you're a creative person."

It's good to be receptive to feedback, but make sure you aren't taking too much to heart.

Ben Silbermann, Pinterest founder

What's good for the goose may not always be good for the gander.

Silbermann says, "Don't take too much advice. Most people who have a lot of advice to give--with a few exceptions--generalize whatever they did. Don't overanalyze everything. I myself have been guilty of overthinking problems. Just build things and find out if they work."

You don't have to do things exactly as others have done. Learn lessons from them, but don't feel bad for going your own way.

Gurbaksh Chahal, RadiumOne founder

Chahal has said, "People still stereotype all day long. But if you forget your own age, you'll get so focused on the business that you become ultra-confident and people will forget to question how old you are."

There are a lot of perceived obstacles and potential stereotypes facing you as an entrepreneur. Don't let them get you down!

If you have no confidence in yourself, why should your team, customers, or investors? Focus on what you know and what you're passionate about. Go forward and speak, write, and create from that place--wow them with your creativity and don't question yourself!

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