5 Life Lessons for Successful Entrepreneurs

4.6.2015, Written by Annie Wang

Young EntrepreneursWhen Inc. released their annual list recognizing the top 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in America last year, they also identified a portrait of the top CEOs. Two traits in particular – risk taking and creative thinking – spoke specifically to the ability of successful corporate leaders to shed conventional wisdom and expectation and think outside the box with regards to their business.

According to a recent Inc.com article, the ability to part with convention serves as the underlying message in New Yorker contributor and bestselling author, Malcolm Gladwell’s for successful entrepreneurship. Check out the full story here, or read on to see Gladwell’s top 5 life lessons for entrepreneurs.


  1. On Practice. “Once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder… Even Mozart – the greatest musical prodigy of all time – couldn’t hit his stride until he had his ten thousand hours in. Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” – Outliers: The Story of Success
  2. On Courage. “Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.” – David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
  3. On Fulfillment. “Those three things – autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between 9 and 5. It’s whether our work fulfills us.” – Outliers: The Story of Success
  4. On Innovation. “But crucially, innovators need to be disagreeable. By disagreeable, I don’t mean obnoxious or unpleasant. I mean that on that fifth dimension of the Big Five personality inventory, ‘agreeableness,’ they tend to be on the far end of the continuum. They are people willing to take social risks – to do things that others might disapprove of. That is not easy. Society frowns on disagreeableness. As human beings, we are hardwired to seek the approval of those around us. Yet a radical and transformative thought goes nowhere without the willingness to challenge convention.” – David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
  5. On Opportunity. “The lesson here is very simple. But it is striking how often it is overlooked. We are so caught up in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth. We look at the young Bill Gates and marvel that our world allowed that 13-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur. But that’s the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed on 13-year-old unlimited access to a time-sharing terminal in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?” – Outliers: The Story of Success


Read the full article here on Inc., by author Thompson Wall.