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Growth Strategies

Top Advice from the Entrepreneurs of 2012

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Entrepreneurs by their nature are jacks of all trades. But the most successful among them have mastered trading advice on how to succeed.

At Entrepreneur magazine's 5th annual Growth Conference in Dallas, entrepreneurs Limor Fried, Jason Lucash and Bryan Silverman were each awarded the publication's top honors and were asked to share some insights with our readers.

Here's the advice they had for aspiring business owners:

Limor Fried, founder of the New York DIY-invention powerhouse Adafruit Industries, Entrepreneur of 2012:

Keep your business focused on your passion, that's where you'll be able to lead your community. And per her own startup story, which she revealed on stage last week, you should also expect to take some risk. When Fried was at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for grad school, she redirected $10,000 in tuition toward her business of making DIY kits for electronic devices. The hope was that by the time that MIT came knocking for those funds, which her parents fronted for her education, she'd have more than enough to pay. Lucky for her, she did – and she also had a pretty neat business to boot. Last year, the company reeled in $10 million in revenue selling the DIY kits.

Jason Lucash, founder of OrigAudio, the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based speakers-maker, Emerging Entrepreneur of 2012:

Lucash and his co-founder at OrigAudio Mike Szymczak came into entrepreneurship by way of backpack-maker JanSport, where the two worked before starting up. The company's founder, Skip Yowell, who has since become a mentor for the two imparted some sage advice: Never take yourself seriously, but always take your business very seriously.

Bryan Silverman, founder of Star Toilet Paper, a company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Durham, N.C., that sells ad space on. . . you guessed it: toilet paper, College Entrepreneur of 2012:

The best advice Silverman, a Duke University student, says he ever received boils down to one thing: You. You must believe in yourself and your gut. But don't just look on these words as a cliché, he cautions. When Silverman first attempted to launch the company, he wanted to do so with his brother Jordan. Yet working with a family member was something he couldn't hear more negative things about. He knew that it would work, however. Deep down in his gut, he knew. At the conference, he said, he could not imagine going through the journey of a startup with anyone else side-by-side. 

How This Living Room Side Hustle Rapidly Expanded to a Multi-Million-Dollar Business