James Tutton knows how to turn an idea into a successful business. He has been doing it for 20 years.

The self-described “chronic entrepreneur” sold his first business, Moonlight Cinema, at age 34 for $8.3 million. Six years later he co-founded Smiling Mind, a free mental-health initiative, while launching social and business ventures on the side.

He is now company director of Neometro, a boutique, design-driven property developer, and he launched the Plato Project in September.

The Plato Project, which he co-founded with Omar de Silva and Mark McCoach, is a mostly online business school based on three key values – entrepreneurship, mindful leadership and purpose-driven business.

To Tutton, purpose-driven businesses bring about not only financial gain but also offer something to a community.

Unlike conventional business courses, the Plato Project lets students pick and choose units directly relevant to their needs.

“Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, but what’s lacking is the business education to support it,” Tutton says.

James Tutton’s three tips for success:

Be curious

Tutton believes critical thinking, disruption, being inquisitive and taking risks are essential for entrepreneurship.

“In our name, Plato Project, we pay heed to the fact that cultivating a curious mind is critical to entrepreneurship,” he says.

“A lot of people struggle as entrepreneurs because their thought processes are too strict, but the good ideas are the ones that don’t initially fit and ultimately solve social and community problems. It’s the people who come up with these ideas and execute them well who make money.”

Back yourself

Tutton stresses that having the motivation to “swim against the stream” is imperative.

“I think so much of a successful idea comes down to the individual who is driving it and their ability to relentlessly pursue something and cut out all the surrounding noise and the naysayers,” he explains.

“You can only engage with the things that lead you towards the successful outcome you’re looking for.”

Get on with it

According to Tutton, holding back because of the unknown is why many people fail.

“I think there are so many people who don’t do the ‘getting on with it’ bit because they don’t have all the answers,” he says.

“A key thing is accepting that you don’t have all the answers but having enough confidence and a sufficiently curious mind to say ‘you know what? I’m going to figure out the answers along the way’. Then the road will unveil itself.”