As entrepreneurs and business owners, we can all use some words of wisdom to help guide us, inspire us and motivate us at various times throughout our business endeavors. So, we reached out to the insightful CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs and asked them to share their own favorite entrepreneurship quotes. Their quotes are presented below in no particular order. I’ve even started the list off with one of my own quotes that rings true for so many entrepreneurs.
1. The Rule of 3 in Business
Here's my "Rule of 3" for business and entrepreneurs:
"In business, things take 3 times as long, are 3 times as costly & are 3 times more difficult than you project them to be (or than they probably should be)."
2. 1/2 Full Vs. 1/2 Empty
"The glass is neither half full nor half empty...
...it is REFILLABLE!"
3. Is This You?
"Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine... who do the things no one can imagine."
4. Losers ARE Winners
“Sometimes you WIN, sometimes you LEARN,” -Dr. John C Maxwell
We used this quote as a motivator for our 6th grade youth football team, to show them that even when they are down they can learn, improve and better themselves with every loss. We even showed them on a couple games where we played the same team twice, how the teams we played did not use this philosophy and we were a better group of young men because we did.
5. Make It Easy
"Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you."
6. Maximize Your Value
"If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people." - Chinese Proverb
7. KISS Principle
"Use your strengths - hire your weaknesses."
8. Heroic Dreams
"We have the right to dream heroic dreams." -President Ronald Reagan in his first inaugural address.
When I was a boy, Ronald Reagan was my president. When I was a soldier, he was my Commander-in-Chief. And when I became an entrepreneur, he, through his words and deeds, became my mentor. Those words gave me the belief that not only could I make my dreams come true, I had a right to dream those dreams.
9. And Still I Rise
"Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise."
-From the poem And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
10. Change Your Choices
My favorite quote is from MJ Demarco. Here it is:
"Many people want to change their financial situation but aren’t willing to change their choices… and this ultimately, changes nothing."
It's not enough to hope, wish, and plan for changes. You actually have to get up and take action. The difference between the people who succeed and those who never get ahead is that those who succeed changed their choices along the way.
11. Yep, I'm crazy!
"The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do."
12. Entrepreneurial Phrase
"Get out of the mindset of "having" to do something, and get in the mindset of you "getting" to do, whatever it is you are doing."
-Robert Herzevic (Shark Tank)
13. Stay Motivated
As a small business owner, staying motivated, especially during tough times, is a constant challenge. That's why this quote by Winston Churchill is one of my favorites. He reminds us that success is the ability to walk from failure to failure with no loss of motivation.
14. Taunts from a Founding Father
"When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game,
But you don't get a win unless you play in the game.
Oh, you get love for it. You get hate for it.
You get nothing if you wait for it."
—Lin Manuel Miranda (as Alexander Hamilton), "The Room Where It Happens." "Hamilton" 2015.
15. Dream Big!
"If you can dream it, you can do it."
As a Platinum level Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, we live by Walt's vision. Having a positive mindset and doing what you do with integrity makes it even more special.
16. Do What You Love!
“Skills are cheap. Passion is priceless.”
-Gary Vaynerchuck - Vayner Media
My motivation as an entrepreneur is the freedom to do what I love and thereby live each day with intention and with passion. I can surround myself with people that have the skills we need to be successful, but the passion, you can't hire that out or fake it until you make it. It comes from the heart and it is what gets me out of the bed in the morning!
17. My Favorite Quote
I do not know who originally said this but I think it is a brilliant quote and a rule to live by for business writing and marketing communications: "No one will ever complain that you made things too simple to understand."
18. Getting Up Again and Again
"I'm convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance." -Steve Jobs
19. Limitless Possibilities!
“When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you and be a loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. Refuse to throw in the towel. Go that extra mile that failures refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure.” -Mary Kay Ash
20. Give it to a Busy Person
"If you want something done, give it to the busiest person in the office." -Based on Ben Franklin quote
21. Nothing Will Work...
"Nothing will work unless you do." - Maya Angelou. In a world of "overnight success" stories and the oft believed fallacy that technology solves all problems, this quote reminds us of the basic truth. Entrepreneurial accomplishment is built upon hard work. Sure, if we do it right, it's fun and fulfilling. Yet, we must never forget that to be an entrepreneur we must get off the sofa, actual or digital, and do the work before we see the results and profits. Nothing will work unless you do- say it in the mirror each day.
22. Be Inspired By the Grind
My favorite inspirational quote is by Thomas Edison: "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
It's a perfect reminder to business owners and entrepreneurs - the greatest gains can be made just by putting in work. You don't need to have a magical idea or trendy app to serve the needs of others and be successful.
Get to work... and you'll likely find that magical idea hiding in your blood, sweat, and tears.
23. Love What You Do
The quote below by Henry Ford inspires me to pursue my entrepreneurial goals with enthusiasm.
"Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait, the grip of your hand and the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas." -Henry Ford
24. Good Idea
"A good idea has all that it needs to grow and to prosper. Nurture it."
25. Throw off the Bowlines
"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails." -Mark Twain
26. Love Everyone, But...
"Love everyone, trust a few and paddle your own canoe!" -Anonymous
27. Are They Trustworthy?
"To know if someone is trustworthy, listen to what they say, then watch what they do. Do their words and actions match?" -Debra Nunes
28. Be Sure You're Helping Others
My favorite quote as an entrepreneur is from Zig Ziglar: “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” This quote shapes every decision I make and I refer back to it often.
29. Reach For the Stars!
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?" -Robert Browning
30. Don't Wait!
"Don't wait. The time will never be just right." -Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill died in 1970; hence, he could not know that in the 21st century, his quote would become even more relevant. Not only is there no such thing as a "perfect moment" to do what we must or should do, today there are more entrepreneurs AND the invention of the Internet allows everybody to work faster. Most often, the ones who act first reap the rewards of new ideas, concepts, or inventions.
31. No Excuses. Just GSD!
"Imperfect Action Beats Perfect Inaction." -Unknown
The moral of the story is launch ASAP, take the leap and build your wings on the way down. It doesn't matter if it's pretty, you have to validate fast. Friends and family will high five you and say great job, but true validation comes when you’re given that money.
Take that leap fast, gain momentum and GSD!
32. If You Don't Ask...
My dad always used to tell me that if you don’t ask, they can’t say yes. He taught me this lesson while making endless cold calls in the effort to book our small family carnival. You get told no a lot when you are calling people up to ask if they will book your seven ride carnival in a state where most of our competitors had two or three times as many rides as we did. I learned a lot of great lessons from him.
33. Quiet Courage
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow." -Mary Anne Radmacher
A good percentage of your existence as an entrepreneur is dusting yourself off and finding a new way to succeed by giving yourself the time and space to reflect on a better solution. Pictures of mountains and all-cap quotes are fine, but I prefer self-evaluation and the room to fail creatively. Radmacher's quote is an eloquent way of expressing it.
34. Everything Begins With a Story
"You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it.” -Margaret Atwood
Being a ghostwriter can be difficult, as non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) eliminate any chance of testimonials. Thankfully, stories (like the clients who desire to share theirs) are recession-proof and never go out of style.
35. Always Ensure Quality
"When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through." -Steve Jobs
36. Try and Try Again
My favorite quote comes from Wayne Gretzky, the former pro hockey player. He said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take." This is very inspiring to me and I find it particularly true in the entrepreneurial world. You have to be willing to take risks. Sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don't. But, if you're not willing to try, how will you ever know?
37. You: 5,10, 20 Years From Now!
"The best way to predict the future is to create it." -Peter Drucker
38. Wisdom From Usmc Ocs
When I was 18, I learned one of the best phrases that helped me when dealing with employees or clients: "Just because people have to work for you doesn't meant they want to. Get them to want to and you'll be successful."
39. Change Is Good!
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein
Whenever I feel stuck or like I want to give up in my business, I remember that nothing changes if I stay the same. That reminder to keep changing, growing, and learning is what motivates me to try new ways of doing things, to get out of my own way and to step out of my comfort zone.
40. Jump Off That Cliff
"You jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down," -Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn. I enjoy this quote because it advises the only thing that ever creates lasting change --action. If you want to learn a skill, set yourself on a non-negotiable schedule to do so. Promise your friends, family or business partner that you will achieve a specific result, and let accountability and healthy social pressure work its magic. Burn your boats and you will take the island. Want to fly? Jump!
41. In Times of Change
"In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists." -Eric Hoffer
42. Listen More Than You Speak
My favorite quote is one by the British statesman and Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in 1878:
“A sophistical rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that who can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of arguments to malign an opponent and glorify himself.”
Lessons: Listen well, speak to understand better, beware of self-interests, and try to empathize. When you're talking, it's hard to hear.
43. Always Ask for More
"Aren't we all striving to be overpaid for what we do?" –Will Ferrell
A lot of my writing, speaking and coaching is dedicated to negotiation because so many people have a hard time with it, and entrepreneurs, as fearless as they are, are no exception! Too many people worry about alienating the other side or asking for too much. This Will Ferrell quote reminds us that too much is not a bad thing. Instead, too many people ask for too little and are underpaid as a result.
44. Love What You Do!
A great quote comes from Albert Schweitzer, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and philosopher.
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
I love this quote because as an entrepreneur, I’m doing what I love. A lot of people don’t enjoy their work, and aren’t truly happy. My job doesn’t feel like work because helping others brings me happiness. Love what you do, and do what you love!
Brandon Welch, PhD of Doxy.me
45. Turn Your Ideas into Reality
I recently read a book called “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. In it, he says “Dream big. Start small. But most of all, start.” So many people have great ideas, but they don’t invest the time and energy into making them a reality. Take action and bring your ideas to life.
46. Success Takes Time
"If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time."
- Steve Jobs
People often miss the crazy amounts of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears that goes into owning a successful business. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
47. Stop Looking for Shortcuts
One of the most honest quotes I've heard comes from Colin Powell, a former U.S. national security advisor for retired four-star general. He said, "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."
Once you stop trying to cut corners and find shortcuts, you'll find that it really pays off to work hard.
48. Get 'Er Done
Get 'er done, borrowed from the comedian Larry the Cable Guy, fits entrepreneurship well. As I return from music nirvana in Panama City Beach, affectionately known as the Redneck Riviera, Larry's signature phrase strikes me as appropriate. As an entrepreneur no one is over your shoulder ensuring completion of your work. It's up to you to take initiative and "get 'er done". Make it happen and take control of your future! It's only then you can vacation in your own version of nirvana.
49. Focus on Winning!
"Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing." - Vince Lombardi
This quote can be tied in directly with business and I find it very motivational. What's the point of doing something if it's not done right? Focus on winning!
50. Swan Dive
"I don't care if they eat me alive / I've got better things to do than survive." - Ani DiFranco, "Swan Dive"
This quote comes from a song that's all about choosing to take risks, dive in, and do your best in the pursuit of something greater than what you have. It's actually been so influential on me as an entrepreneur and an individual that I have this line tattooed on my rib cage. Any time I feel afraid, I remind myself that "all the chance that I need is one in a million."
51. Search AND Respond to Change
"The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity." - Peter Drucker. This quote is so important to me because, as entrepreneurs, we not only need to be cognizant of change, but we need to react to it as well. We can't bury our heads in the sand and wish away innovation. If we're prepared for it, we grow, and win as a result.
52. One Idea at a Time
"Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success." - Swami Vivekananda
A common mistake that I see people make is trying to do too many things at once. If you're able to put all your energy and focus into one idea, success will come much faster than putting a little energy into a lot of ideas.
53. Defining Entrepreneur Success
When it comes to looking for inspiration for my business, I value the input and wisdom of successful entrepreneurs, but I find the greatest insight from authors. Bessie Anderson Stanley wrote: "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded," showing that a true entrepreneur first understands the needs of the people he/she serves above all else. This is a humbling reminder that our greatest jobs are to make other lives better.
54. Impossible is a DARE
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
This quote struck me so deeply that I built my entire TEDx talk around it.
55. Know Who You Are!
Trout and Reis wrote their ground breaking book, Positioning many years ago. One of their key pieces of advice is that if you "try to be all things to all people, you become nothing to anyone." In other words, you have to know who you are, own your niche, and really identify what makes your product unique, knowing that to be successful you have to focus on your core audience. If you try to be all things to everyone, you have no identity. And I might add...it's impossible!
56. A Lesson From the Tortoise!
"Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still."
I believe this is an old Chinese proverb. This constantly reminds me of the importance of patience and perseverance in everything that I do. I also like a slightly different angle on this which I use a lot in presentations and talks - "There is a cost to standing still".
Eamon Moore of EMIT
57. Just Do It!
"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney
For years I was a "wantrepreneur". I sat toiling away in my corporate job with a nice paycheck and job stability. I always talked about how I'd be an entrepreneur someday. When I read this quote, I decided it was time for me to shut up and "Just Do It", as Nike would say. I didn't care what my business was, I just knew owning a business is what would make me happy. Now, I own Seattle-based cleaning service Lemonly.
My favorite quote is one of my own. It is so fitting for everything in life. "Failure is one step closer to success!"
59. Making Your Ideas Happen
My favorite entrepreneurship quote is “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” -Scott Belsky. As an entrepreneur, we often get more ideas than we know what to do with. This quote reminds me that it's about taking action and executing on our ideas that really matters in business. You must take your great ideas and come up with a plan to bring them to life. And if that's not your skill set, I'd encourage you as an entrepreneur to get support in this area.
60. Planting Money Seeds... Today
My favorite entrepreneurial quote comes from an ancient Chinese proverb:
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." -Chinese Proverb
This quote inspires action. After all, business is only successful after you have carefully planted the right seeds in the right locations.
If you have an idea for a business, or want to grow your new company, go out and find those opportunities... today.
61. Build a Business
"You cannot build a business sitting on your couch in your living room while watching "Law and Order" reruns." -Gary Bronga
62. One Thing and One Thing Only!
"Don't halfass a dozen ideas, pick one & kickass instead." This is my own quote but more importantly a life learning!
63. Your Business Goal
"The best goal of any business is to realize less stress and more success." -Al Levi, Author, The 7-Power Contractor
64. Hustle Sold Separately
"Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you." - Mark Cuban
65. Living on a Prayer
"Courage is fear that said its prayers." -Dorothy Bernard
I think entrepreneurship is summed up perfectly in this sentence as it's scary to be "living on a prayer", but that is what every business starts with.
It might be desperation, anger or desire, but in the end, it's about the hope for better than you currently have OR WHY WOULD YOU DO IT?
66. Who Do You Know? Ask
"Someone you know; knows someone, looking for someone, just like you." -Denise Anne Taylor
As an entrepreneur, the fastest way to build a brand, acquire new possibilities and to get found is through someone you know. Who do you know? You may be one person away from achieving your goals and dreams. Do not be afraid to ask for help and to tell people what you need. Good luck!
67. Can You Take a Punch?
"Your success as an entrepreneur is based on how many times you can get punched out and still get up." This quote is by me.
68. Success and Failure
"The foundation of success is failure."
69. Vulnerability Connects Us
"I'm Sorry. Sorry. Could we start that section? I apologize. Sorry, I'm just so nervous."
-Patti Smith performing at Noble Peace Prize awards messes up in a public way and the crowd applauds her honesty.
Showing vulnerability builds trust and takes real courage.
“Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to'.” -Lao Tzu.
That he said this in 604 BC, before cell phones, microwaves, cable TV, social media and every other "distraction" we have today is astonishing. To me, it is THE quote for the ages and simply means don't make excuses, just do it and succeed.
71. Woes of the Hopefuls
“If you’re not ready to be uncomfortable, you’re not ready to be an entrepreneur.” –Entrepreneur, Brian Helmick
Since Evus Technologies is in the business of startups, we see this all too often. Many entrepreneurial spirits have business ideas; most do not have the tolerance for the number of hurdles and challenges involved in actually building that idea into a profitable business.
72. Simple Yet Powerful...
My favorite quote and the one that has helped me through tough times in my business is:
"Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you."
-Tony Hsieh, Zappos
73. Why I Do What I Do
One of my favorite quotes is, "Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't." -Anonymous
This quote is displayed on a vision board in front of my desk. It keeps me going as I work long nights or weekends to move my business forward.
74. Keep Your Momentum
Being an entrepreneur takes determination to overcome what may seem like a wave of setbacks followed by key breakthroughs for those willing to stay the course, as the following quote from Tony Robbins illustrates:
"People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy."
75. Inspiration is a Myth
As a freelance writer and tech entrepreneur, my favorite quote is: "I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning." -William Faulkner
I love this quote, because it's a call to cut the crap. If you want to improve and succeed, you can't wait for it to come to you. You have to go get it! You have to be intentional and disciplined. This applies to writing, to entrepreneurship and to anything else you might do. Don't wait for inspiration to come. Go get it.
76. Ignore the Naysayers
"A successful woman is a strategist driven by her cause who will not yield to naysayers." -Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis, Executive Women's Success Institute
77. Learn From Your Failures
"Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again." -Richard Branson
Ludovic Huraux of Shapr
78. Grit Wins
"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of will." -Vince Lombardi
This quote motivates me, as I personally think that you need to have ‘grit’ to be successful as an entrepreneur. There are a million challenges and you just have to pound your way through them. When I run into a problem, I wrap my head around it and find a strategy for attacking it. Then, I grab one or two people on my team to attack it with me.
79. Forget Mind Reading - Just Ask
“Wonder what your customer really wants? Ask. Don’t tell.” -Lisa Stone, BlogHer Co-founder and CEO
Too many businesses struggle to convert and retain customers because they spend too much of their time trying to convince customers to buy their products or services. The entrepreneurs who succeed are those who ask questions and truly listen to their customers. Then, they use that feedback to deliver solutions and marketing messages their customers can’t resist.
80. Communicate at Your Own Risk
"You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, so why do you communicate without a plan? Communicating without a plan is risky business."
-Tami Belt, Owner/CEO, Blue Cube Marketing Solutions
Do you know a great entrepreneurship quote that wasn’t included? Please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!