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The Valuable Lessons These CEOs Learned About Leadership

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What does it take to be an effective leader?

Limor Fried

In a panel discussion today at our first-ever Entrepreneur360 Conference, three founders offered their best advice, sharing the mistakes they made along the way.

For Dan Price, co-founder and CEO of Seattle-based credit-card processing startup Gravity Payments, it's all about going with your gut. Price recalled a few business partnerships early on with people that seemed smarter and more experienced than he was at the time, but ultimately didn't share his goals for the company.

Related: How Startup Founders Should Be Setting Long-Term Goals

"Don’t take advice from anyone,” he said. “Be humble, listen to people's opinions and be open-minded, but at the end of the day, you have to do what you feel is right."

He went on to advise that if you find yourself doing something based on what an advisor or someone in a position of authority wants, and it doesn't feel right, "you’re going to go down the wrong path and more importantly you're not going to be authentic to yourself. If you make a mistake following your heart, you'll learn from it."

Related: 10 Surprising Things Successful People Like

Price, who was our Entrepreneur of 2014, has become somewhat of a controversial figure. He made headlines earlier this year when he set a $70,000 minimum salary for all 120 employees at his company, but has since been sued by his brother and co-founder Lucas, who alleges Dan cut him out of profits while overpaying himself.

For Limor Fried, founder of New York-based educational electronics company Adafruit Industries, the best advice is to never do business with anyone you don't trust. “I see this all the time. People are blinded by the promise of some money – not even some money, but the promise [of it]... and it always turns out bad.”

Related: Limor Fried of Adafruit Industries: You Can't Outsource Knowledge (Podcast)

She also stressed the importance of investing in the processes (HR, financial, legal) that will safeguard your company in the long run. "If you made it this far and you're successful, you should spend some money to protect yourself."

Jason Lucash -- whose motto is "don't take yourself too seriously, but take your business very seriously” -- explained that leaders need to strike when the iron's hot. The founder of Costa Mesa, Calif.-based OrigAudio, a company that makes innovative and environmentally conscious portable audio gadgets, says he wishes he had started his company sooner. 

"You don't want to be the person sitting back, watching infomercials on the TV, and thinking man I had the idea for the Snuggie, right? I think the craziest ideas are the ones that are actually made into reality. You don't want to be the person sitting on the couch watching your idea come out. Make your dreams a reality because the craziest dreams make the best businesses." 

Related: How I Found Success by Age 30

Nina Zipkin

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.