The 3 Biggest Entrepreneurs of Our Time (& 3 Reasons Why They’ve Been So Successful)

29th Oct 2021
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A spaceship, an electric car and the biggest global social media platform in the world. If you search for the top entrepreneurs of our time, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerman and Elon Musk will never fail to appear. Of course, the likes of Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs feature regularly too, but what is it, specifically, about these three that gets them onto these lists every single time, without fail?

This article will delve deep into the personalities of these three successful businessmen to find out what it took to get them to where they are today.

But first.

Let me introduce you…

They need no real introduction, but I always find it fascinating to read about these iconic entrepreneurs and rediscover what they’ve managed to achieve in such a short space of time.

Who is Jeff Bezos? 

Born in 1964, Jeff Bezos is what you might call a ‘jack-of-all-trades’. He’s an entrepreneur (obviously), a media proprietor, an investor, a computer engineer and most recently a spaceship builder. But a ‘master-of-none’ he is not. As Amazon’s founder and now executive chairman, he’s worth nearly $202 billion, making him one of the richest people on earth.

He first became a billionaire when he was 34, the year after Amazon went public as an online bookseller (remember that?!). Jeff spent the next two decades expanding Amazon into just about every industry you can think of: From cloud computing and video streaming to home security and film production and it has the most efficient supply chain in the world, with some customers able to receive their packages up to one hour after placing the order.

Who is Mark Zuckerman? 

In 2004, the way we communicated with friends, family and businesses changed forever. That was when Mark Zuckerman launched Facebook. We all probably know the story, but he originally invented the social networking platform for his Harvard classmates so they could find each other, talk online in a safe, secure environment, share stories with groups and upload photos. This concept was so readily accepted that by the end of its first year, Facebook had over one million users.

In 2012 Facebook had its initial public offering, which raised $16 billion, making it the biggest Internet IPO in history. By 2018 he was the third richest person and is now worth a staggering $117.6 billion.

Mark was only 20 when he started Facebook: Yes, 20! Instead of falling in and out of bars, he was developing the biggest social platform the world has ever seen and, as a result, ended up as one of the world’s youngest billionaires and the youngest ever Fortune 500 CEO

Who is Elon Musk? 

Co-founder of PayPal and Tesla and sole founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk certainly hasn’t put all his eggs in one basket. Born in South Africa in 1972, Elon is worth approximately $151 billion and is considered the second richest person in the world, behind Jeff Bezos.

But, Elon Musk is known as much for his failures as he is for his successes. From being ousted from PayPal and publicly smoking marijuana to cringe-worthy Twitter rants and making outlandish comments which inflicted irreversible damage on his share prices, how has he managed to remain the second richest person in the world?   

Good question. It’s time to find out what common traits these three entrepreneurs possess that have got them to the dizzying heights of success.

How did the 3 Biggest Entrepreneurs in the world get to the dizzying heights of success?

Entrepreneurs are a special breed. While most of us would crumble under the pressure, successful entrepreneurs have a strong driving force that enables them to push past obstacles, risks and failures and come out the other side with a prosperous business.

But it’s not just drive, determination and sheer will to make things work that makes entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg, Bezos and Musk top of their game. These three also possess a set of specific characteristics and traits that have helped them get there.

Entrepreneurial trait #1: They have a clear vision   

What?! A young, 20-year-old Harvard student is taking on the giant social networking platform Myspace? From his college dorm room?!

No, it’ll never work. He’ll never succeed.

But he did. And that was largely down to a crystal-clear vision and a dogged determination to realise it.

He had a vision to build a social networking site – despite at the time facing stiff competition from Myspace... He stuck with his idea even though everyone around him thought it would fail.” – Vocal Media

Mark Zuckerberg only ever had one vision and that was to make a more connected and open world. He put this vision at the forefront of every decision he made and was, therefore, able to create a product that did (and still does) exactly that. And, although making a tonne of money wasn’t part of his original plan, because he pushed himself and his team to achieve his vision, the by-product was a multi-billion-dollar enterprise.

This laser-focused vision is a trait that Jeff Bezos also possesses. But his visions are slightly more…contrived, shall we say? 

Bezos does not think of next year, but rather five years out, and sometimes even further.” - Medium

When he first launched Amazon.com, he had a long-term vision of making it a global success. He predicted that the internet would grow to become part of our everyday lives, and everything he subsequently did was focused on building a business that was solely about the online experience. As a result, Amazon is the largest and most dominant online store in the world. 

But no one has a stronger vision than Elon Musk. He’s often hailed as a visionary because he’s obsessed with the bigger picture and the end result. He doesn’t do detail and he doesn’t sweat the small stuff. Instead, he’s a blue-sky thinker that focuses on where he wants to be, not necessarily how he will get there. For instance, instead of working out ways to get more customers to buy his electric cars, he’s working out ways to colonize Mars so that we have a plan B in case we can’t save the Earth: Hence the building of SpaceX.

One of the most admirable traits about Musk is he always sets the most ambitious goals, from building underground tunnels to beat traffic congestion to connecting our brains to computers.” - CNBC

Entrepreneurial trait #2: They don’t fear the fear

As we know: Things don’t always turn out the way you want them to. Your ideas might fail, you might make mistakes, you could lose money and people might lose faith in you. And that can often terrify us into staying in our comfort zone and sticking with what we know, can’t it?

But these three men don’t let fears like this stand in the way of their success. They use them as fuel to fire new ideas, to learn from their mistakes and to do things better, next time around.

Being afraid brings a heightened awareness, compassion for others you are working with, and an unbreakable commitment to survive at all costs.”Entrepreneur

The phrase “move fast and break things”, coined by Zuckerberg, encapsulates this mindset perfectly. Moving fast, breaking things and then learning from the experience is something that’s driven the rapid growth of Facebook. Zuckerberg believes that if you’re not breaking things, you’re not moving fast enough. He thinks that if you’re not moving fast enough then you won’t have access to the opportunities that will lead to exponential growth.  

Because of his trait of moving fast, Mark Zuckerberg was able to achieve success in mere 10 years which took 30 years by Bill Gates to achieve.” – Business Alligators

Jeff Bezos has the same mindset, but uses a different phrase:

If you want big winners, then you have to be willing to have many failures, with one big winner taking care of a thousand failed experiments.” - Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon

He’s renowned for thinking outside the box, re-shaping the box, or throwing the box away altogether – even if that might result in a catastrophic failure.

I mean, look at how he started Amazon: It took him three goes to get it off the ground! He knew he had to experiment, try new things and ultimately embrace failure if he wanted to succeed. And, this mantra has stayed with him. Even now, he knows that if things don’t work out, he’ll learn something new for the next time. He doesn’t fear the potential to fail.

Failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment.” - Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon

Building a commercial spaceship, reinventing manufacturing with the gigafactory and the plan to build a colony on Mars within the next 10 years should be proof enough that Elon Musk doesn’t feel any fear.

But, actually, he does feel fear. And has openly said that it’s normal to feel fear. But what he doesn’t do is let that fear stop him from moving forwards with his ventures. The passion he has to achieve his vision, coupled with a sense of fatalism is what pushes him forwards: 

"If you just accept the probabilities, then that diminishes fear. When starting SpaceX, I thought the odds of success were less than 10% and I just accepted that actually probably I would just lose everything. But that maybe we would make some progress." – Elon Musk

Entrepreneurial trait #3: They’re always looking for ways to improve

Nothing is ever finished because it can always be better.

Mark Zuckerberg believes this wholeheartedly. He knows he is where he is today because he constantly listens to feedback and keeps improving his product. He even invented a philosophy called ‘’The Hackers Way” to develop a culture of continuous improvement within Facebook:

The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete.” – Mark Zuckerberg

A lot of the changes he’s made to Facebook such as algorithms, features and updates, have come from listening to his users and continuously improving his product accordingly.

Jeff Bezos and his Amazon team are also known for continuous improvement. They’re constantly looking at what features and benefits they can add to their products and services to improve them. They continuously look at how they can lower prices, increase customer value and improve their existing products, services and processes. It’s a never-ending cycle.

Why? Because continuously improving products, processes and services:

Earns more trust with customers and drives rapid improvements in customer experience.”Business Insider

And Elon Musk has the same approach when it comes to making continuous improvements but has a slightly different reason for doing so.

Regardless of how much he’s achieved and how successful he is, he believes there is always room for improvement:  

I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.” - Elon Musk

While this inability to leave things alone has led to some of his failures, it’s led him to all of his successes. For instance, imagine receiving a $120,000 quote from a supplier for an electromechanical actuator (no, I don’t know either), but then being able to build one, from scratch, for only $5,000. Musk did that by looking for new ways of doing things. By the drive to improve on what he has in front of him. And like him or loathe him, you have to admit that it’s worked for him.  

Constantly looking for new, better, quicker, and cheaper ways to do things is how the likes of Elon, Mark and Jeff have got to where they are today.

Conclusion

So, to be as successful as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos all you need is a clear vision and a passion that allows you to work doggedly towards it, without distraction. You must accept fear and enable it to help you progress, not stop you in your tracks. And, you must constantly look at how you can improve your products, services and processes so you stay ahead of your competition, keep your customers loyal, and maintain a lean and efficient business that will keep you in profit.

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