10 Vital TED Talks For Entrepreneurs Starting a Business

Article by

Starting a business is tough.

After all, it takes guts, commitment, hard work… and constant development.

And, in the words of Marshall Goldsmith: “What got you here won’t get you there.”

So, where do you start?

What do you need to do to succeed? What will see you through?

In this quick-fire post, we share 10 of the best TED Talks for entrepreneurs starting a new business.

So, bookmark this post now.

And, make sure you don’t miss out on learning these valuable lessons.

1. 5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams – Bel Pesce

So many people dream of building a successful business. And yet, so few entrepreneurs manage to achieve it.


What really holds us back from accomplishing our dreams?

Brazilian entrepreneur and author Bel Pesce has spent years trying to understand how people manage to achieve their dreams.

The result?

Five dangerous beliefs that will hold you back and kill your dreams.

And, in this TED Talk for entrepreneurs, Pesce shines a light on the powerful ways you may self-sabotage your dreams, and crucially, what you can do instead to succeed.

Key Takeaways from This Ted Talk for Entrepreneurs

There’s no such thing as overnight success. 

So, take it one step at a time. You’re in this for the long-haul.

You must make your own decisions. 

“No one else has the perfect answers for your life.” Find the courage to go with your gut.

Always step up your game. 

So, if things are good, don’t settle, “okay is never okay.”

And, when you find yourself nearing a peak, “you need to work harder than ever and find yourself another peak.”

Always take responsibility.

“If you have dreams, it’s your responsibility to make them happen. Yes, it may be hard to find talent.”

“Yes, the market may be bad. But if no one invested in your idea, if no one bought your product, for sure, there is something there that is your fault.”

“Life is not about the goals themselves. Life is about the journey.”

“Achieving a dream is a momentary sensation. Your life is not.”

“The only way to really achieve all [of] your dreams is to fully enjoy every step of your journey.”

2. The Skill of Self Confidence – Dr. Ivan Joseph

Starting a business often goes hand-in-hand with personal development.

Often, you must first move past your own limitations before you can move your business forward.

So, what personal skill do you need most?

In Dr. Ivan Joseph’s opinion? Self-confidence.

This athletic director and coach believes that without self-confidence, it doesn’t matter how good your other skills are.


Because as Joseph shares, “No one will believe in you unless you do.”

In this great TED Talk for entrepreneurs, Dr. Joseph deeply explores self-confidence and its ability to help us achieve success and fulfillment in our lives.


Key Takeaways from This Ted Talk for Entrepreneurs

Self-confidence is vital to success, and it’s a skill that can be trained.

Specifically, self-confidence is “the ability or the belief to believe in yourself, to accomplish any task, no matter the odds, no matter the difficulty, no matter the adversity.”

Practice and persistence build self-confidence.

“Practice, practice, practice, and do not accept failure.”

Be careful of who you let influence you.

“Get away from the people who will tear you down. There’s enough of that.”

Deliberately improve your positive self-talk.

“Stop the negative self-talk.” And, create your own self-affirmation to reaffirm your self-belief: “I am the captain of my ship and the master of my fate!”

3. Keep Your Goals to Yourself – Derek Sivers

Setting goals for ourselves is exciting.

And so, we often tell everyone within a 10-mile radius about our incredible new venture.

But unfortunately, as Sivers says: “Too bad, you should have kept your mouth shut.”


In this TED Talk for entrepreneurs, Derek Sivers presents research to show why telling people about your goals and plans will make you less likely to achieve them.


Key Takeaways from This Ted Talk for Entrepreneurs

“Telling someone your goal, makes it less likely to happen.”

“Ideally you’d not be satisfied until you’d actually done the work, but when you tell someone your goal and they acknowledge it … your mind mistakes the talking for the doing.”

“And then because you’ve felt that satisfaction, you’re less motivated to do the actual hard work necessary.”

So, avoid telling people your goals.

Indeed, resist the temptation to announce your goals and learn to delay the gratification that social acknowledgment brings.

But, if you do need to talk about your goal, do it in a way that gives you no satisfaction.

4. The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything – Josh Kaufman

How long is your to-do list?

If you’re starting a new business, chances are it’s pretty long.

So, you’re strapped for time already. But, starting a business often requires you to learn lots of new things.

Which takes even more time…

So what do you do? Days aren’t getting any longer.

Here’s the fix: Learn to learn fast.

Which is why this is such a valuable TED Talk for entrepreneurs.

Author Josh Kaufman shares how having his first child inspired him to approach learning in a whole new way.


Key Takeaways from This Ted Talk for Entrepreneurs

You need just 20 hours of deliberate practice to learn the foundations of a new skill.

“Twenty hours is doable, that’s about 45 minutes a day, for about a month. Even skipping a couple days here and there.”

But, there’s a way to practice efficiently and effectively, that will help you get the most out of your 20 hours…

Deconstruct the skill.

Because most ‘skills’ are bundles of smaller skills.

So, “decide exactly what you want to be able to do when you’re done, and then … break it down into smaller pieces.”

Then, prioritize which to practice first.

“If you practice the most important things first, you’ll be able to improve your performance in the least amount of time possible.”

Learn enough to self-correct.

“Get three to five resources about what it is you’re trying to learn … [and] learn just enough that you can actually practice and self-correct as you practice.”

Kaufman argues that this will speed up your development.

“The learning becomes a way of getting better at noticing when you’re making a mistake and then doing something a little different.

Remove barriers to practice.

Because, without dedicated, focused practice, your development will be slower.

“The more you’re able to use just a little bit of willpower to remove the distractions that are keeping you from practicing, the more likely you are to actually sit down and practice.”

Practice for at least 20 hours.

“Most skills have what I call a frustration barrier …  We don’t like to feel stupid. And feeling stupid is a barrier to us actually sitting down and doing the work.”

So pre-commit to practicing for at least 20 hours. This will help you to stick with the practice long enough to reap the rewards.

5. Try Something New For 30 Days – Matt Cutts

Achievements take time.

It’s not the short burst of energy, but the long burn that’ll see you to the end.

So, how do you get started?

Well, computer scientist Matt Cutts has improved his life in many ways with one simple thing: 30-day challenges.

In this short, lighthearted TED Talk for entrepreneurs, Cutts shares a neat way to think about setting and achieving your goals.


Key Takeaways from This Ted Talk for Entrepreneurs

It takes just 30 days.

“30 days is just about the right amount of time to add a new habit, or subtract a new habit.”

 30-day challenges can make you more present.

Specifically, during these 30-day challenges, “the time was much more memorable.”

30-day challenges can improve your self-confidence.

“As I started to do more and harder 30-day challenges, my self-confidence grew.”

Keep your challenge small and sustainable.

“When I made small, sustainable changes … they were more likely to stick.

“There’s nothing wrong with big crazy challenges. In fact, they’re a ton of fun, but they’re less likely to stick.”

Anything is possible!

“If you really want something bad enough, you can do anything for 30 days.”

6. What Consumers Want – Joseph Pine

So, what do consumers want?

If you knew the answer, your business would surely be destined for greatness.

But, what if you’re unsure? What if you get it wrong?

Now, there’s a scary thought.

So, how do you make sure your business provides exactly what your target market wants?

Well, start with an understanding of the current consumer mentality.

In this TED Talk for entrepreneurs, author, and consultant Joseph Pine explains what consumers want, and how to make sure your business gives it to them.


Key Takeaways from This Ted Talk for Entrepreneurs

The world is constantly developing.

Before there were commodities, then goods and then services. But now, “services are being commoditized as well.”

People now buy based on experience.

“We’re shifting to an experience economy, where experiences are becoming the predominant economic offering.”

People want to buy an authentic experience.

Indeed, authenticity is now, “the buying criteria by which consumers are choosing who are they going to buy from, and what they’re going to buy.

“You have to get your consumers … to perceive your offerings as authentic.”

There are three basic rules to be perceived as authentic:

“One, don’t say you’re authentic unless you really are authentic.

“Two, it’s easier to be authentic if you don’t say you’re authentic.

“And three, if you say you’re authentic, you better be authentic.”

7. How to Get Your Ideas to Spread  – Seth Godin

Get a product, and then market it — that’s how successful businesses work, right?

Not anymore.

The age of generic products sold to a mass market is over.

In a world with so many options and so little time, people simply ignore ordinary stuff.

So, it’s only the remarkable businesses who achieve greatness.

In this TED Talk for entrepreneurs, marketing guru Seth Godin shares why being ‘safe’ is dangerous, and why being extraordinary is best.


Key Takeaways from This Ted Talk for Entrepreneurs

People don’t care about your business.

Consumers have more choice and less time.

“And in a world where we have too many choices and too little time, the obvious thing to do is just ignore stuff.”


Consumers are thinking along the lines of, “me, me, me, me. My favorite person — me. I don’t want to get email from anybody; I want to get ‘me-mail!’”

Create and market products that inspire passion.

“What marketers used to do is make average products for average people … They would ignore the geeks, and God forbid the laggards. It was all about going for the center.”

But, that doesn’t work anymore. Now, you must market to people who care.

The way to make an impact is to be remarkable.

“The thing that’s going to decide what gets talked about, what gets done, what gets changed, what gets purchased, what gets built, is: ‘Is it remarkable?’”

So, how can you make your business remarkable?

Every one of us is in the fashion business.

Today, things move fast, and people love new. “No matter what we do for a living, we’re in the fashion business.”

“The safe thing to do now is to be at the fringes, be remarkable.”

“Figure out who does care. Who is going to raise their hand and say, ‘I want to hear what you’re doing next,’ and sell something to them.”

8. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Lee Duckworth

Building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint.

And inevitably, at some point, you will face hardship.

Maybe your cash-flow will dwindle. Or you’ll have a legal problem. Or there’ll be a problem with your supplier.

But whatever happens, there’s one thing you must never run out of: Grit.

This is an inspiring TED Talk for entrepreneurs, where Angela Duckworth shares research showing that talent isn’t everything. And, that grit is actually a far more reliable indicator of future success.


Key Takeaways from This Ted Talk for Entrepreneurs

Grit is vital to success.

Duckworth references studies showing that grit is the most significant predictor of success. “It wasn’t social intelligence, good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit.”

“Grit is passion and perseverance for our very long-term goals.”

Duckworth goes on to say that, “Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years. And working really hard to make that future a reality.

“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Talent isn’t as important as grit.

And, “talent doesn’t make you gritty.”

Duckworth notes that “grit is usually unrelated or even inversely related to measures of talent.”

9. How to Make Stress Your Friend – Kelly McGonigal

Stress is bad for your health, right?

Not necessarily.

But although it’s long been regarded as a public health hazard, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you think it is.

Good news if you’re starting a new business.

In this TED Talk for entrepreneurs, psychologist Kelly McGonigal shows how stress is actually a good thing — you just have to believe it is.


Key Takeaways from This Ted Talk for Entrepreneurs

Stress is not bad for your health if you believe it isn’t.

“The harmful effects of stress on your health are not inevitable. How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress.”

If you view stress as bad, it’s bad for your health. But, if you view it as good, as a chance to grow, stress can actually be good for you.

Learn to interpret stress as positive.

“That pounding heart is preparing you for action. If you’re breathing faster, it’s no problem. It’s getting more oxygen to your brain.

“When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage.”

Changing your view of stress can make you live longer.

“In a typical stress response, your heart rate goes up, and your blood vessels constrict.”

But if you view stress as positive, your body’s reaction changes. Your heart rate will still go up, but your blood vessels won’t constrict.

And, “over a lifetime of stressful experiences, this one biological change could be the difference between a stress-induced heart attack at age 50 and living well into your 90s.”

Stress makes you social.

“Your biological stress response is nudging you to tell someone how you feel, instead of bottling it up.

“Your stress response wants to make sure you notice when someone else in your life is struggling so that you can support each other.

“And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.”

10. Secrets of Success in 8 Words, 3 Minutes –  Richard St. John

Is there a formula for success?

According to Richard St. John, yes.

He spent ten years researching what makes people successful.

His research included interviews with Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Robin Williams, Steven Spielberg, five Nobel prize winners and over 500 other super successful people.

And from his research, he found that there are 8 traits that all super successful people have in common.

In this unmissable TED Talk for entrepreneurs, St. John condenses years of research into 3 minutes of value-packed lessons on achieving success.


Key Takeaways from This Ted Talk for Entrepreneurs

You must create passion in your work.

“The interesting thing is if you do it for love, the money comes anyway.”

Work hard, but find a way to enjoy your work.

“Rupert Murdoch said to me: ‘It’s all hard work. Nothing comes easily. But I have a lot of fun.’”

So, don’t be a workaholic. Be a ‘workafrolic’!

Focus on one thing and get good at it.

Game developer Alex Garden told St.John in an interview, “To be successful put your nose down in something and get damn good at it.”

“There is no magic. It’s practice, practice, practice. And it’s focus.”

Keep pushing forwards.

You need to build momentum and keep pushing forwards.

Marine scientist David Gallo told St. John in an interview, “Push yourself. Physically, mentally, you’ve got to push, push, push.”

Focus on serving others.

“Now, a lot of kids tell me they want to be millionaires … And the first thing I say to them is, ‘Ok. Well, you can’t serve yourself, you’ve got to serve others something of value because that’s the way people really get rich.’”

“Millionaires serve others something of value.”

Work to develop great ideas.

“There is no magic to creativity and coming up with ideas, it’s just doing some very simple things.

  • Listen
  • Observe
  • Be Curious
  • Ask Questions
  • Problem Solve
  • Make Connections”

Always persist.

Co-founder of Excite Joe Kraus told St. John in an interview, “Persistence is the number one reason for our success.”

“You’ve got to persist through failure, you’ve got to persist through CRAP, which, of course, means:

  • Criticism
  • Rejection
  • Assholes
  • Pressure”


There’s a lot to think about when starting a new business.

But, although each Ted Talk for entrepreneurs covers different ground, you may have noticed that a lot of the points are similar or overlap.

And that’s the point: Successful people share the same few traits.


  • Create a personal affirmation to build your self-confidence.
  • Start a 30-day challenge to learn something that will help you grow your business.
  • Find a way to create a business that’s authentic and remarkable.
  • Learn to embrace stress…

Whatever else you do, pick just one thing, do it well and move your business forward.

Remember, small steps add up to long journeys.

Are you buzzing yet?

Good! Which TED Talk for entrepreneurs inspired you most and why? Let us know in the comments below. We read every one!