Here's how you can become a successful business leader

Alexa von Tobel shares some invaluable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
An illustration of a man in a suit holding a puzzle piece and the rest of the people standing on puzzle pieces. — Canva
An illustration of a man in a suit holding a puzzle piece and the rest of the people standing on puzzle pieces. — Canva

Alexa von Tobel, the mastermind behind the successful online financial adviser LearnVest,  has some invaluable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. 

The number one lesson she shares with CNBC Make It is that confidence is crucial, but being overly confident could spell disaster for your startup.

Imagine this. You've come up with a groundbreaking business idea, you're raring to go, and the world seems to be applauding your genius. But according to von Tobel, here's the catch — don't let the initial success get to your head. She insists that truly triumphant business builders are never blind to potential pitfalls; they maintain a "healthy paranoia" about their ventures.

Back in the day, von Tobel took a bold leap, leaving Harvard in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis to launch LearnVest. Even when her creation attracted a flood of eager users on day one, causing a temporary website crash, she kept her feet on the ground. The lesson? Executing a business plan isn't a walk in the park — it's more like a steep climb. Initial wins are splendid, but they're just the start; if you relax too soon, you risk losing it all.

Here's the thing — overconfidence isn't your ally. Research shows that budding entrepreneurs often fall into this trap, and it's no wonder, given the slim odds of startup success. Overconfidence can trigger reckless decisions, and that can be the downfall of your dream.

Von Tobel's story is different. She didn't get carried away by the early triumphs of LearnVest. Instead, she pursued a steady path of growth, leading the company to gather a whopping 1.5 million users within seven years. This remarkable feat eventually caught the attention of Northwestern Mutual, who snapped up LearnVest for a staggering $375 million in 2015.

But don't think for a second that maintaining a "healthy paranoia" means living in fear or shunning your achievements. Von Tobel isn't saying that. She's all about working smart and hard, making sound decisions day after day, for a decade. That, she claims, is the key to building a truly successful venture.

So, remember this. Confidence is your ally, but overconfidence is the villain that can sink your ship. Stay vigilant, work diligently, and build your success brick by brick.

Alexa von Tobel's journey from Harvard dropout to multimillion-dollar success story proves that a blend of confidence and caution can indeed make all the difference.