As an entrepreneur in my early twenties, I'm always searching for someone wiser and more successful than myself to look up to. Regardless of age, we all benefit by learning from the mistakes of others and by listening to their advice. In addition to my various mentors, I like to pick the brains of as many entrepreneurs as possible by reading their blogs, listening to their podcasts and watching how they conduct their business.
It's a well-known statistic that 90 percent of startups are expected to fail. It's a hard truth, but it can also encourage us to work harder. Those who succeed have found a way to pick themselves up when they're down and reinvent who they are as entrepreneurs.
While there are many characteristics successful entrepreneurs share, everyone has their own way of achieving goals. What works for some might not work for everyone. In paying homage to all of the advice I receive, I want to outline the three entrepreneurs who have made the biggest impact on my life as a young innovator and helped me find success.
Gary Vaynerchuk, Serial Entrepreneur and Investor
This Russian-Jewish hustler knows how to build successful brands: he's the coach in your corner keeping it real when it comes to entrepreneurship. He taught me that restricting yourself to a 9-to-5 workday won't get you to where you want to be. Entrepreneurs need to put everything on the line and be committed emotionally to their work. Entrepreneurship is gritty and rugged, something I didn't realize until I committed myself fully to my career and learned that the workday extends well into the evening and weekends.
A successful hustler is one who stays true to themselves and is willing to put in the long hours of work needed to meet their goals. It means staying up that extra hour to Slack my coworkers about an idea or sending that one extra email before catching some sleep. It's listening -- for instance, Vaynerchuk has a great #AskGaryVee show where I routinely learn something new -- and focusing on your strengths to put you ahead of the competition as a true entrepreneur.
Gerard Adams, Founder of Elite Daily
As a millennial entrepreneur, meeting the founder of Elite Daily was a huge deal for me. This millennial risk-taker is a prime example of a young innovator taking control of his future and taking a gamble by starting his own business. It was inspiring to chat with and learn from a young entrepreneur who was able to follow through with his vision and see his ideas come to life.
From a young age, we're taught that a good education is the only way to advance our career and secure a financially sound future. But increasingly, we're seeing millennials take risks to pursue what they're good at. Through Adams' story of dropping out of school, I've learned that an entrepreneur isn't defined by his or her education or what Fortune 500 company they used to work for -- what matters is whether or not they can execute on a vision and that they're results driven. For Adams, that vision was giving a voice to millennials who have a story to share.
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World and Star of CNBC's "The Profit"
Lemonis is the business turnaround king. He's tenacious, unrelenting and reinventive. For some entrepreneurs, taking a step back is just as important as taking a step forward. You gain value by understanding where you came from. Lemonis is all about reinventing oneself and recognizing what you're bad at in order to move forward.
When you go into a business, you need to have blinders on to focus. Lemonis taught me that success is born through determination, but also through the result of recognizing your strengths and knowing your beginnings. Setbacks happen, but those who move past those roadblocks are those who can re-package themselves. Knowing when to reinvent is critical to accomplish your goals. Entrepreneurship doesn't occur on a flat plane or timeline with solely forward movement: it's a cycle in which reinvention happens at every turning point. Success relies on taking the time to strengthen your entrepreneurial mindset.
We all have something that makes us "tick" as entrepreneurs. How I conduct my business and how I measure my personal achievements might be different from other entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial journey is riddled with highs and lows, with no formal training to prepare you. But while there's no blueprint to steer me in right direction, stories of those who made it -- the Vaynerchuks, Adams' and Lemonis' -- are where I draw my inspiration from. The personal stories of hardship and success (not lessons in a classroom) are where I've begun to discover the real teachings of entrepreneurship.