There's a vague statistic that says 9/10 businesses fail. While this may not be 100% true, what is certain is that a lot of businesses do in fact fail. Knowing how to run a successful business is going to come from experience and past failures. It's rare to get it right on the first try. So, why not learn from those who've failed, got back up, and built a thriving business in the face of adversity?
Your thoughts become your emotions, which in turn become your actions. So, what are you feeding your brain? What do you listen to in your free time? Idle times make for an opportunity to learn new things and find out more about what interests you.
Why not check out a marketing podcast, a design podcast, or something that covers business news? If most businesses fail, could it be something successful entrepreneurs know that others don't?
20 podcasts for business owners and designers
As an aspiring entrepreneur, it's good to venture into unknown territories and expose yourself to new ideas. Listening to podcasts can bring you to a new level of understanding for topics that may be outside of your area of expertise. So, take a break from social media, put on your headphones, and fill your brain with some new ideas.
Here are 20 of our favorite podcasts we think business owners and designers should be listening to in 2020:
1. Y Combinator Podcast
If you're familiar with startups, you've no doubt heard about Y Combinator. If not, you definitely should. They help startups develop their companies, as well as offering funding. Y Combinator's podcast covers the intricacies of startups — from financing and building working relationships — to digging deep with their guests who have all experienced the struggles and successes of being founders.
Whether you're a software engineer, designer, content writer, or anyone who gets excited about tech and entrepreneurship, you'll find something inspiring and insightful when you listen to YC's podcast — one of the best business podcasts for those who love tech.
2. Masters of Scale
You can't call your podcast something like “Masters of Scale” and not deliver something extraordinary. Founded by a master of scale himself, Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn, this podcast brings it. With such heavy hitter business leaders like Bill Gates, Ariana Huffington, and Howard Schultz as guests, Masters of Scale is like an all star game of successful entrepreneurs. Reid makes it a point to balance out his cast of guests with a diverse range of viewpoints to keep things interesting.
With so many takeaways in every episode about how to run a successful business, Masters of Scale should be a part of your podcast listening routine.
For those who are fans of documentaries, the StartUp describes itself as “a show about what it’s really like to start a business.”
The stakes are high when trying to get a startup off the ground, and any company will have missteps and failures. This podcast isn't afraid to show the not so great side of things through a vulnerable and honest approach — making for a captivating listen. From showing how entrepreneurs Andrew Blumberg and Matthew Lieber’s early investment pitches crashed and burned, up to their win of being acquired by Spotify, this podcast tells their story with all its twists and turns and how they grew from a small business into successful entrepreneurs.
It’s always intriguing to learn how a business builds itself up. From coming up with a marketing strategy, to building a website with something like Webflow — there are many steps.
4. The Futur
Chris Do, CEO of The Futur, has put together a podcast whose reach includes all things design, business, and personal branding. On the artistic side of things you’ll find episodes about illustration and animation. They also cover topics like branding, gender inequality, and developing your soft skills. This is a well-rounded podcast, offering a wealth of knowledge that can help you in any stage of your career.
5. The Ground Up Show
Looking for a bit of pick-me-up? Matt D’Avella, a filmmaker and YouTuber, created The Ground Up Show to serve as an inspiration. Matt’s podcast consists of interviews with thought leaders that go deep into topics like self-care and how to treat ourselves better — both personally and in our careers. Some of these enlightening episodes talk about meditation, dealing with impostor syndrome, and personal fulfillment — all things that many of us have undoubtedly struggled with.
Listening to this podcast, you can tell that Matt has a personal stake in what he’s talking about, and comes across as an authentic and caring person. Even if you’re not feeling the doldrums, The Ground Up Show will give you a bit of a boost.
6. a16z Podcast
Produced by the Silicon Valley based venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz, the a16z Podcast compliments many of the expertise and work done within the firm itself. From cryptocurrency to bioscience, a16z covers a wide range of businesses with a focus on the evolving software and the power of tech. If you want to listen to one of the best business podcasts focused on tech, a16z is worthy of your attention.
7. Recode Decode
Kara Swisher comes to podcasting from an esteemed career as a writer for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Her questions and approach with guests in the realm of tech are rooted in her background as a journalist, but these podcasts are more than just cut and dry interviews. She’s not afraid to share her opinions, and doesn’t hold back in letting her own convictions color her discourse with guests. So many podcasts suffer from a mutual stroking of egos, but Recode Decode has a raw honesty that sets it apart from the rest.
8. The Design of Business | The Business of Design
Business and design are individualized disciplines, but converge on a number of levels. The Design of Business | The Business of Design explores the multifaceted relationship between the two.
Past episodes have had guests like Carolina Wagna, the chief diversity and inclusion officer for Target, Kerby Jean Raymond, founder and CEO of the fashion company Pyer Moss, and even documentary filmmaker Errol Morris — all pontificating on how design and business come together. There’s a great backlog of episodes with a wide range of guests including designers, business owners, and successful entrepreneurs that make for a great listen whatever side of the business/design divide you fall on.
Design covers many different skills, making it a multidisciplinary pursuit. You must be fluent in the visual language that guides it, but also adaptable to whatever industry you’re working in. And if you’re a freelancer, you may have a wide range of companies you do work for.
Clever knows that design touches many different areas, and their catalog of episodes have guests from many different realms of design. From experimental architect Drew Seskunas, to artist Ingrid LaFleur, there are many interesting episodes with people who have found their way in their creative career. There’s plenty of talk about design, with each episode illuminating what makes their given guests special.
10. Venture Stories
Okay, Venture Stories may not be the easiest entry for those unfamiliar with venture capital, but wherever you're at, there's no doubt that you'll learn something. One can imagine that these are the conversations you overhear in a Silicon Valley Starbucks between business leaders and other aspiring billionaires. Impress you friends, coworkers, and parents with your newly acquired venture capital knowledge after repeated listens.
Master the fundamental concepts of web design, including typography, color theory, visual design, and so much more.
11. HBR IdeaCast
There's the economics of business. Then there's the human side that goes beyond numbers and data. The Harvard Business Review IdeaCast covers the human side of business, getting into topics like the struggles of being a working mom and gender equality, but also discusses tech issues like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.
The HBR IdeaCast covers a wide range of topics, which will expose you to ideas and subjects outside of your comfort zone. With weekly podcast episodes hitting iTunes and other podcast outlets, there’s no shortage of HBR IdeaCast episodes for you to listen to and learn from.
Falling under the umbrella of the well respected podcast network TechCrunch, Equity approaches its subject matter through the lense of venture capital, taking on what’s happening right now. From discussing the inflated valuations of companies like Uber and Robinhood, to discussing the gender pay gap, Equity makes for a compelling listen.
13. The Brainy Business
The science of behavior economics studies how peoples' emotions affect how they spend and in turn impact the greater economy. Brainy Business delves into what affects our brains to buy what we do. This makes for episodes covering such subjects as mental biases, brand identity, and how tactile stimuli like the touch and smell of a product can influence the bottom line.
The psychology of consumerism makes for a fascinating listen, and Brainy Business explores it in a way that's easy to understand. Whether you want to learn more about how behavior economics effects online business or traditional retail, Brainy Business is full of solid takeaways that will broaden your understanding.
Laura Correnti and Alexa Christon of Adlandia aren't afraid to challenge long held beliefs in the real-life world of marketing. They're friendly agitators, challenging the long held norms that are fading away. This fiery idealism may make you question your own understanding of marketing and business for the better. If you want a business podcast that isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo, Adlandia is the best business podcast.
15. Being Freelance
Anyone who has tried their hand at freelancing knows that there are challenges. Some of these can be hard lessons, with trial and error being a bumpy road. There are quite a few resources out there to make this process easier, with the Being Freelance podcast being a necessary listen for any freelancer who wants to know how to do things better in real-life.
Host Steve Folland fills his roster of guests with freelancers from a variety of fields. Anyone from illustrators to sound designers all share their experiences navigating their careers as freelancers, along with insights about their own creative work.
16. The Marketing Companion
Whether they're talking about social media, entrepreneurship, or some other aspect of business, Mark Schaefer and Brook Sellas of the Marketing Companion pack plenty of wisdom into each episode. But this isn't a dry business podcast. There's a fun back and forth between the hosts, with plenty of humor mixed in. With the tagline of “The World’s Most Entertaining Business Podcast”, they certainly don’t disappoint.
17. Business Wars
Fender versus Gibson. Coke versus Pepsi. McDonald's versus Burger King. These are the brand wars, fought with weaponized advertising, vying for us as consumers to pick a side. Business Wars explores these long-standing rivalries and strategies companies have come up with to outdo their competition. Are there any winners in the ongoing corporate skirmishes? The business wars podcast aims to answer that question and more.
18. The Pitch
We watch television shows like Shark Tank, like Romans watching the gladiators. We are transfixed by the high stakes, and the possibility of beautiful victory or crushing defeat.
The Pitch podcast captures this drama, with real company owners pitching in front of real investors. This theater, where those seeking the thumbs up that will give them the money they need to walk out victorious, makes for fun and intriguing listen.
19. Design Matters
How could we not include in the list Design Matters? They are the first ever design podcast, and have been putting out consistently great shows since they launched. Debbie Millman, a designer herself, has many different guests on from a wide range of disciplines. People like cartoonist Lynda Barry, David Lee Roth, and Adobe executive Scott Belsky have all made appearances.
Debbie brings her design smarts into these conversations, but leaves plenty of breathing room for her guests to talk about what they do. If you haven’t checked out Design Matters yet, you should dive right in.
20. Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
The Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series features business leaders, business owners, and others who have who've pushed the bounds of innovation and led companies to success. With the esteemed academic institution of Stanford being behind it, there are no lackluster figures here — with every episode featuring someone whose intelligence and vision has helped transform their given industry.
Whether they’re talking to Ryan Peterson of Flexport, whose mission is to bring tech to the shipping industry, or Lisa Anderson, the CEO of the biomedical company Genome Medical, each of these stands as a masterclass. Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders will expose you to ideas you may be unfamiliar with and inspire you to take leaps in your work and career.
What are you listening to?
There’s no way to cover the multitude of amazing podcasts out there like Mixergy, or Entrepreneurs on Fire in this given space. Please hit up the comments with what podcasts you’re listening to. We all have time that could be better spent opening our eyes to new ideas, and inspire us in our own work, lives, and careers.