The Self-Made Myth: All Business Leaders Had Help Along The Way

The Self-Made Myth: All Business Leaders Had Help Along The Way


By Andy Bailey

I’m about to share an unpopular opinion: the self-made CEO is a myth. No successful entrepreneur or business leader is a self-made man or woman. If you think you are, you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Behind your successes are countless contributions from family, friends, teachers, mentors and coaches. If you can’t see that, you’re not looking hard enough.

As a business coach, I’ve seen companies grow from kitchen tables to $100 million enterprises and then collapse because the owners thought they knew everything. In contrast, the world’s most effective leaders know they didn’t get to where they are by themselves. They recognize that ideas can come from anywhere, and they actively seek out people who can help them on their journey. Here are three ways to harness that inspiration.


The most effective leaders are always the first to admit that they don’t have all the answers. They ask themselves tough questions to understand their own strengths and weaknesses, and they don’t let ego or pride get in the way of building their companies.

One of the biggest mistakes I see business leaders make is thinking they can’t learn anything from the people around them. It’s essential to recognize your limits, seek others’ help and opinion to patch holes in your expertise and give credit where credit is due.


Some of the best ideas I’ve had for my businesses are ones I’ve borrowed (and modified) from others. In my experience as an entrepreneur and coach, I’ve seen firsthand how ideas that are considered standard practice in one industry can be innovative when applied to another. Of course, it’s about how you adapt those ideas to your business, not necessarily just copying what your competitors are doing. Instead, use the existing base of knowledge to provide a novel solution.


Finding new solutions to business challenges is a never-ending and often exhausting task for entrepreneurs and business leaders. One source that I’ve used to help me solve problems has been a business advisory group

(BAG) comprised of professionals in business operating in noncompetitive markets. Peers in a BAG can relate to the daily challenges you face running your company, managing teams and growing the business. BAG members can provide you with valuable insight into how they are running their own companies and how business solutions they’ve implemented may apply to your business.

Business is a team sport. No great company has ever been built solely atop the efforts of a single person. The entrepreneurial spirit will take you far, but eventually, you have to recognize that you need to rely on the ideas and contributions of others. When that happens, you’ll become a greater leader, and you’ll see your business and company culture grow exponentially.

About The Author: Andy Bailey is the founder, CEO and lead business coach at Petra, an organization dedicated to helping business owners across the world achieve levels of success they never thought possible. With personal experience founding an Inc. 500 multimillion-dollar company that he then sold and exited, Bailey founded Petra to pass on the principles and practices he learned along the way. As his clients can attest, he can cut through organizational BS faster than a hot knife through butter.