Entrepreneurship can be extremely rewarding, yet a tricky, risky, and even frightful climb to the top. Especially for those who are just starting out, the classic advice would be to learn as much as possible from established entrepreneurs who have been through the ‘climb’.
Mentorship broadens entrepreneurs’ horizons and makes them appreciative of the aspects they may have overlooked. They also become aware of the skills they should develop, the trends they should follow and the principles of success they can build on.
While making one’s own mistakes is unavoidable and plays an integral part in the learning process, a reduced learning curve by expanding one’s knowledge through mentorship is advisable. The more slipups that are contained or, better yet, avoided, the better your business can operate and profit smoothly.
LinkedIn influencers have become a magnet for aspiring entrepreneurs seeking mentorship, especially those who can’t afford a formal mentorship program, for several reasons, like:
1) They are actual successful men and women, who survived the climb, thrived under pressure, and built their empire almost from scratch.
2) They are business leaders, who are constantly learning and seeking new challenges. Far from retiring and setting themselves out to greater pastures, they are always reinventing themselves to achieve more difficult goals that positively impact a larger portion of society.
3) It only costs a few minutes a day to read their work and follow their trail on the Internet.
LinkedIn Influencers have earned their title because their life-shaping opinions and ideas encourage others to pursue their own dreams and find the courage to establish their own business.
While LinkedIn itself has nurtured the growth of all its influencers over the years, here are nine of the top influencers (in no particular order) whom aspiring entrepreneurs should follow. They range from the wildly successful, high-profile tycoons to rising stars, who have made their first few marks in business and are getting their more than fair share of followers.
1. James Altucher, Entrepreneur
Altucher’s cycle of rise and fall has happened so many times, he himself says it’s a miracle he has remained on top of his game. The beauty of his LinkedIn posts is that he also learns from his failures, not just his successes. His past defeats are temporary downturns that he sees as lessons—an attitude that all entrepreneurs would be wise to adopt. Thus, it’s no surprise that his book has been voted on Amazon as one of the most influential business reads in the past couple of years. It’s proof that a hardworking, courageous innovator will not remain down.
2. Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group
The life of the successful maverick businessman, who started with almost nothing to put up 400 companies, is enough reason to follow him on LinkedIn. While he’s in his 60’s, Branson continues to push business boundaries, like the ventures into space tourism he is pioneering.
Newbie entrepreneurs who follow Branson’s posts often read about how he manages to turn adversities into advantages. His other favorite topics to write about that others will find useful are motivating employees and enhancing morale.
3. Ian Bremmer, President of the Eurasia Group
What happens on the other side of the world affects all entrepreneurs and not just the mega-corporation CEO. For instance, part of the supply chain cut off in a distant region can have a domino effect that can stall the production of an SME product. That’s why people often read Ian Bremmer’s take on how international politics and economics can shape a day-to-day business.
For example: His LinkedIn posts on the Syrian war and its aftermath made the consequences of that conflict all-too-real to European businessmen, some of whom braced themselves before calamitous occurrences, like the massive immigration, became headline news.
4. Mohamad El-Erian, Chief Economic Adviser of Allianz
What newbie entrepreneurs will find useful in El-Erian’s LinkedIn posts is not so much of his biography but his accurate business forecasts, which all businesspeople should know. He has the uncanny ability to spot where the international economy will rise and fall, given certain current events. A case in point was his analysis of the Greek referendum, which pulled in a whopping, 700,000 views just hours after he posted it.
5. Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite
Holmes dazzles the reading crowd with his thoughts on how social media and marketing can fuel business success, especially in the tech world. His insatiable curiosity and passion to find solutions are infectious and worth adopting. A born problem-solver, he always reminds his audience that there is no single path to success. He also defies conventional thinking, for example, like in his popular post on why having an MBA is not necessary to achieve success.
6. Sallie Krawcheck, CEO/Cofounder of Ellevest
Sallie Krawcheck tells business the way it is, and success has not softened her attitude to be relentlessly honest about the toughness of the business landscape. What adds impact to her LinkedIn posts is that she writes about her experiences as they happen, not months afterward, when the issues have been resolved. Her most popular post, which garnered 300,000 views, is a good example of her candour: “Why you should NOT leave your job to become an entrepreneur.”
7. Sramana Mitra, Founder of One Million by One Million
Sramana Mitra has gone through the tough process of bootstrapping into an art that gained her a wealth of knowledge about business. She is well past her sleeping-on-the-couch days, but her hunger for success, coupled with a no-frills pragmatism, is as intense as ever. For example, her thousands of followers read how one can find capital and create a healthy cash flow without relying on venture capitalists and investors. Her other must-reads are the ways she minimizes expenses while maximizing sales to bring in money.
8. Colin Shaw, CEO of Beyond Philosophy
Shaw’s LinkedIn posts on customer experience show entrepreneurs many techniques on how they can build a happy customer base, keep their clients engaged, and make them long-time, profit-making partners. Satisfied customers who trust him and his business don’t just lead to business retention. They also spread his word around, effectively bringing him new prospects.
9. Gretchen Rubin, Author, Blogger, Speaker
Gretchen Rubin may not be a business leader in the league of the aforementioned influencers, but her bestselling books and highly influential LinkedIn posts on happiness are energizers that all entrepreneurs need to tap their creativity and muster the optimism that will see them through the day. She lets them take a break from their hectic schedule to remind them of things that can make them healthier and happier human beings. For example: Her posts on habits that shape a joyful disposition, meaningful relationships, and a productive workplace can influence virtually any entrepreneur to jump out of bed, all gears running, to face the week’s challenges.