Mark Zuckerberg was a computer programmer back in 2002. But instead of following the career path society has planned for him, he worked day in and day out on something he believed in. And created the fastest growing social media platform in his dorm room.
Today he’s world famous, one of the most successful Internet entrepreneurs and startup founders, and is worth around 35 billion dollars.
He changed the way we communicate, make friends, share what’s on our mind and even market our businesses.
In 2004 the first version of Facebook was launched. And even then its creator himself didn’t know where this project would take him. Once he saw how fast it was growing, he decided to drop out of Harvard and move to Palo Alto, California to keep working on that. Turned out to be a great decision.
He believes that everyone has the entrepreneurial spirit inside them, they just need to find what they’re passionate about, work hard on it and create the ideal lifestyle while making the world a better place with their product.
Here’s what else he can teach us about business, life, success and passion:
10 Lessons We Can Learn from Mark Zuckerberg
1. Don’t start with the money in mind.
According to Terry Semel, CEO of Yahoo!, Zuckerberg is the only person he’s ever met who said no to a billion dollars. That’s what happened when the young passionate entrepreneur rejected his offer. His reason was that he wasn’t doing it for the money.
It’s more important to love what you do, to be giving it all your time (it takes a lot of time, especially in the startup world), to have a vision and stay true to it no matter what.
Zuck believed in Facebook from day one and wanted to see it grow. At some point he had to change direction, the idea of the product itself was changing too. But he knew he wanted to keep working on it, didn’t want to see his hard work in the hands of others, believed in the potential of the social media and was sure that only he and the other people involved in the project were able to make the most of it.
So if you have a business idea, are already a business owner, or else, don’t do it for the money. Love what you do first, care about it, dedicate enough time and energy, and the money will come. But then you will have deserved it as you’ll be offering value to people.
2. All startups begin by working alone countless hours on something that may or may not be a success.
“The real story of Facebook is just that we’ve worked so hard for all this time. I mean, the real story is actually probably pretty boring, right? I mean, we just sat at our computers for six years and coded.”
Such success doesn’t happen overnight, and those who are still hoping for fast results these days are simply not ready to enter the business world.
You can’t go without hard work. It’s not only about creating the product, there’s also a mindset of success being developed and a powerful vision growing in your mind.
If you spend tens of hours working on something, if you think it solves a problem people have and if you market it right they will pay you for this, and if you add passion to that, you’re onto something.
But there are too many distractions these days. People usually give up early on while their project is still in its first version, and when there are no money coming in. But big things take time. And you’ll need to be selective as your time is limited.
A startup may take around a decade of your life.
That includes creating the minimum viable product, getting it out there and asking for feedback, marketing, connecting with partners and investors, making hundreds of changes to the initial product in order to make it better – to upgrade it and add features.
But that will also make you successful, will let you make a difference in the world, become a big name in your industry. Then you’ll have the power to affect other people’s lives, to encourage young business enthusiasts and help them achieve the same.
And, most importantly, all this will let you contribute to the world in the best way possible – by doing work you love. And that, in my opinion, is one of the most productive ways to spend the time you’re given on this planet.
3. Big things start small.
“I literally coded Facebook in my dorm room and launched it from my dorm room. I rented a server for $85 a month, and I funded it by putting an ad on the side, and we’ve funded ever since by putting ads on the side.”
Back then this may have seemed like nothing, compared to all the other projects the rest of the programmers in Harvard were working on. But if you’re on the right track, if you’re passionate about the work you do and see its potential, know that you need to keep going no matter what.
Once you find such an opportunity, taking it and making the best of it is one of your missions in life.
Choose not only smaller when you begin, but also simpler.
At the time Facebook was created, MySpace was the number 1 social media out there. So Zuck needed to think of a way to differentiate his newborn platform so that people would prefer to use it. And he made it simpler – that makes it easier to use, faster to load, and with a better design.
4. Other people won’t understand what you’re doing.
If you’re working hard on a project on the side and secretly wish to turn it into a business, it means you’re different than most people around you.
You spend your time differently – in a more productive way, you’re an idea generator, have found your passion, spend a lot of time on your own and don’t share your goals with others which may make you seem weird at times.
And that leads to not being understood. But you need to be alright with that.
Whenever in doubt, think of why you started this in the first place. You’ll quickly get a motivation boosts, remember it’s the right thing and get back to work.
Then, when you’re about to launch your product, you’ll have to let those around you know what it’s about. It’s inevitable at that point.
And even if you try to explain your goal in a simple way, they may still not understand you. But don’t let that distract you. It’s just because these people see things from another point of view, often don’t see the point of you doing all this, are living their life in a more ordinary way – following the path that society has created for them.
So be compassionate. Let them live their life, and keep your vision alive.
Once you stop listening to the naysayers, make sure you find other like-minded people like you that will inspire, motivate and support you.
That’s what Mark did:
“My friends are people who like building cool stuff. We always have this joke about people who want to just start companies without making something valuable. There’s a lot of that in Silicon Valley.”
You are the average of the people you spend most time with, so make sure they don’t discourage you, but instead lift you up, share your goals and believe in your abilities.
By understanding and following these 4 and other rules and lessons, Mark Zuckerberg became the world’s second youngest billionaire without starting with money in mind. And if he did it – with no initial money, support or a specific plan to follow, but instead used his passion and free time – so can you.
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