10 successful people on making the leap from employee to entrepreneur

Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva


Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone.

It’s difficult, risky, and stressful; but if you’re successful, you’ll become the master of your destiny. These business founders and “Advisors” in The Oracles share how they made the leap from employee to entrepreneur — and how you can too. 

1. Start small.

When I had the idea for Canva, I was a student who didn’t even know what a startup was. I just had a problem that I wanted to solve — to make design simple for everyone — and a lot of determination. We started in a niche market to ensure our approach was possible and needed, and that we solved the problem well.

We spent years growing Fusion Books into Australia’s largest yearbook company before expanding into other countries. We knew our technology could be applied more broadly because nearly everyone needs design.

Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva

So we launched Canva in 2013, and now more than 20 million people from 190 countries have used it. —Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva, which is valued at over a billion dollars.

2. Test your idea on friends and family.

I created Hint to get my family drinking healthier beverages. We were the first focus group. Before long, my unsweetened fruit water was quickly disappearing from the refrigerator; so I shared it with friends and colleagues and collected feedback. I knew I had something when they asked me to bottle and sell it.

Even as a national brand, we still get feedback directly from consumers and distribution partners. We observe their behavior because what they tell us doesn’t always match their actions.

Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Inc.

We also take calculated risks and don’t rely on consultants or big research studies to make tough decisions. —Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Inc.; creator of The Kara Network, a digital resource for entrepreneurs; and host of the “Unstoppable” podcast; follow Kara on Twitter and Instagram

3. Prepare for hard work and risk.

If you want to make more money and spend less time at work, don’t quit your job to become an entrepreneur, because you’ll probably invest twice the time and experience more stress. I’m 30 years into my career and still work 100 hours a week. Entrepreneurs also take significant financial risks and average $20,000 less than employees in similar positions. That said, if you think big, get yourself known, and refuse to quit, you will make it — and it will be worth it.

Grant Cardone, founder of Cardone Capital

Just remember to 10x your goals and never settle. Grant Cardone, founder of Cardone Capital, a $1.5 billion real estate empire; connect with Grant on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

4. Find the opportunities hidden behind problems.

When I was a web development manager at a multinational company, a product manager approached me about running a beta test for an upcoming product. I asked a few questions and learned there were no processes for customer testing, and no one to manage it.


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