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As an entrepreneur, it’s important that you learn from great examples of leadership and innovation. That’s why so many entrepreneurs read about successful business leaders. It isn’t about trying to recreate someone else’s path and goals, that’s not possible. It’s about looking at the goals, philosophies and achievements of another person’s life and trying to find where you could do better.

There are a number of qualities you could use to choose your business heroes. You could choose them based on their wealth, on their influence in the world, or on their innovations. Those are all good measurements of success, and you could probably learn a lot from people who embody those qualities.

But you could also look for more from the business leaders you admire. You could look at their impact on the world, on the changes they are trying to make. You could choose people who align with your own personal values, and the legacy you want to leave. By choosing to learn from business leaders who embody more than wealth and power, you send a powerful signal about the type of entrepreneur that you want to be.

What business leaders do you admire? And which ones could help you on your path to your business or life goals?

Bill Gates

Bill Gates is probably one of the most influential people on the planet. The creator of Microsoft, his company and his vision have changed the world, directed its path, and directly impacted billions of people.

The facts of Bill Gates’ life are commonly known. He discovered a passion for computers while in school and later moved on to study computer science in college. However, he dropped out to found Microsoft, which then created operating systems for other companies. And when his company created Windows in 1990, it cemented his place as one of the most influential figures of the modern day.

But Bill Gates’ legacy goes beyond creating computer systems. Since 2008 he has worked almost exclusively on his philanthropic endeavours. His company, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, works to improve global issues such as education, health, and disease prevention. It’s estimated that he’s given away over 28 billion dollars through this charity.

Bill Gates is a phenomenal business leader, and has achieved things that most people can only dream of. But as a businessman and philanthropist, he can be admired for far more than his wealth and influence.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is one of the most innovative minds in the modern world. He is an inventor and a creator, and founded the famous Tesla Motors in 2003. But this was far from his first company. The sale of his first internet company made him a multimillionaire in his late twenties, and since then he has founded companies as diverse as SpaceX and X.com, which later became PayPal.

But Elon Musk’s primary concern doesn’t seem to be money. Instead it is creation, innovation, and making sustainable energy a reality. He works constantly to make the world better, to facilitate the exploration of space, and to always do better no matter the opposition.

For entrepreneurs, Elon Musk is an example of a business genius who can embodies the idea of always striving to do more, do better. And to never give up, no matter how impossible, or how far out in space, a goal might be.

Richard Branson

For entrepreneurs who want to learn how to create, fail, and get back up again, Richard Branson is a great businessman to study. He was a high school drop-out when he  started his first company in a church at the age of sixteen. Since that time, he’s continued to create companies and products that show his innovation and unique vision. One of his most successful ventures, Virgin Airlines, has become a pivotal part of connecting the world through cheap flights.

He takes opportunities where he can find them, and makes them when he can. As he says himself: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”

He is also heavily involved in charitable work, and promises to take civilians into space into the future. For entrepreneurs who want the inspiration to reach for the stars, Richard Branson shows how it can be done with unique style and determination.

Howard Schultz

The CEO of overpriced coffee doesn’t seem to have a place on this list. Until you look at the company’s employment policies. Starbucks has a policy of diversity and inclusion that has drawn criticism from some. But this hasn’t changed Howard Schultz’s determination to make Starbucks a welcoming place for everyone.

For entrepreneurs who want to learn how to run a business, and gain the loyalty of their staff, Howard Schultz is a good example to follow. His policies are slightly unusual in the modern, competitive world, but they definitely seem to be working. Starbucks has weathered many tough times, and is now found all over the world.

Tim Cook

After the death of Steve Jobs, someone had to step into his shoes. And these were big shoes. Tim Cook was the man chosen, and despite some public doubts, Apple has only grown since his appointment. For entrepreneurs who face the doubt of others, Tim Cook is a symbol of what can happen if you stay firm and focus on the product and the business. And develop a thick skin.

Under Tim Cook’s leadership Apple has released new, popular products, fought the government over privacy laws and started doing business in China. But Tim Cook’s vision for Apple goes further than producing phones. His own vision is gradually changing the company, with a focus on global issues such as health and education. He is making Apple his own, despite doubt and opposition, and his strength and tenacity make him a good example for every entrepreneur.

Jack Ma

Jack Ma is China’s richest man. A giant in the computing industry, he started from humble beginnings and worked his way up through hard work and determination. In China’s competitive market, he was denied access to university 3 times, and was rejected for more than 30 jobs before he founded his own company. Now he is the majority shareholder of Alibaba.

Jack Ma’s success is inspiring, but more so is his stated goal for the future of his company. He wants to use his power and influence to help small and medium sized businesses in China and abroad. This goal is enormous but hugely worthwhile, and his dedication to helping others makes him an entrepreneur and businessman to learn from.

Sheryl Sandberg

For entrepreneurs who are looking for a female business leader to learn from, they could learn a lot from Sheryl Sandberg. The first woman COO of Facebook, she has proven that she can make it in the business world. But it’s not just her business sense that makes her a leader worth emulating.

She is dedicated to helping other women find success despite opposition. Her charitable organization, Leanin, is dedicated to the support of this goal. It works to empower women through education and through mentorship programs. Her determination to help other women through her success makes Sheryl Sandberg a great role model for both male and female entrepreneurs.

Sergey Brin

Google is the most popular search engine in the world and the company is known for an innovative approach that constantly pushes the boundaries. This is in part due to co-founder Sergey Brin, who is now the president of Google’s parent company Alphabet.

For entrepreneurs who want to innovate, to create new things and new ideas, Sergey Brin’s path is definitely one to learn from. He is the director of special projects at Google, and has driven countless innovations and upgrades. Never satisfied to rest on accomplishments from the past, this company bought Youtube in 2006 and their wearable technology has found applications in the healthcare and military sectors.

Brin’s personal life is controversial, but his professional life can offer many lessons to entrepreneurs just starting out, or those looking for a new direction.

The number one thing you should take away from this

Having heroes is good and when you’re an entrepreneur, it’s even better to have heroes who have done what you want to do. It gives you something to strive for, the belief all the hard work will pay off. It teaches you what you want, and what you don’t want. You should learn about your heroes with the goal of learning about yourself. Strive to emulate the qualities you admire, and avoid those you don’t. And most of all, see in your heroes that everything you dream about really is possible.

Influential Business Leaders you should learn from as an Entrepreneur

  1. Bill Gates

To learn how one man first connected the world, and now is trying to save it.

  1. Elon Musk

To be inspired by his innovation and his drive to better the world.

  1. Richard Branson

To learn that setbacks and failure aren’t the end.

  1. Howard Schultz

A business leader who believes in people and inclusion.

  1. Tim Cook

The man who replaced Steve Jobs, his own way.

  1. Jack Ma

Learn how to overcome obstacles, and teach others to do the same.

  1. Sheryl Sandberg

Setting an example for women, and teaching them her secrets.

  1. Sergey Brin

To learn how to be at the top of your game, and always pushing.