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30 Entrepreneurs Share Their Favorite Business Quotes

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André Gide wrote that,”Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” Quotes are an important part of motivation, though many of them are repeats of another turn of phrase. Business owners are particularly partial to famous quotations. Reading a motivational speech from a business legend or famous creative mind can give you a spark. It doesn’t matter if it has been said before and repeated numerous times, quotes can give you the fire you need to be a better entrepreneur or learn how to handle a difficult situation. Below are some of those quotes sent in by entrepreneurs.

1) Embrace Who You Want to Become

“Pain pushes you until a vision pulls you.” – Dr. Michael Beckwith

We teach entrepreneurs how to start and run a profitable home based business. They always want to know the “how-to’s” and almost always need help with a daily routine. I tell them the awareness of a good daily routine will not have them stick to it, they have to have a vision of who they want to become which leads me to my favorite business (or life) quote by Dr. Michael Beckwith, “pain pushes you until a vision pulls you “. People can get beat up by their circumstances but once you truly embrace who you want to become, you will overcome.

Thanks to Ray Higdon!

2) Communication is Key

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it is has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw. 

Though many businesses, including those catering to the US consumer, believe they are communicating their message to their customers there is one factor they all too often miss – effective communication. Many businesses, whether in the e-commerce, logistics, shipping, legal or marketing industries fail to take the most rudimentary steps to target and communicate with their customers in their native language. Be it large enterprises or small to medium size businesses, this quote rings particularly true and serves as a constant reminder of the importance of localizing and translating business content.

Thanks to Ofer Shoshan, One Hour Translation!

3) How Bad Do You Want It?

“When you want something bad enough, you make the time – regardless of your other obligations. The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough. Then they protect their ego with the excuse of time. Besides, the perfect time never arrives. You’re always too young or old or busy or broke or something else.” – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (Remote)

I decided I wanted it bad enough and now I am really happy with the way my company grows and that we can help other entrepreneurs become more successful.

Thanks to Chris Whitrod, RemoteWorkmate.com!

4) Pushing Boundaries

“If you think you are under control, you’re just not going fast enough” – Mario Andretti

It is the CEOs job to find and tackle new challenges, and that means doing things that are a stretch beyond your comfort level.

Thanks to John F. Dini!

5) It Comes Down to Choices

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter

As someone who is fairly new to the entrepreneurial world (less than 2 years), the opportunities and paths which your business can take are almost overwhelming. I find the most successful entrepreneurs, those whom I which to model, have a very clear path, and stay keenly focused on what they will do strategically to grow their business. For the most part, this involves turning down and saying no to many opportunities which may at the time seem beneficial but in the long-run do not align with your strategic goals.

Thanks to Kristi Soomer, Encircled!

6) Success = Trying

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

That quote is a great reminder that you can’t succeed unless you try, and that you should always be pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in order to push the envelope as to what’s possible with your business. Persistence is an often admired trait in entrepreneurs and people who are responsible for driving a company forward, and this quote epitomises that. However, the real trick is in knowing when to shoot and when to pass!

Thanks to Shashi Hansjee, Entelect!

7) Stay the Course

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohm

I once watched a movie in which one of the characters lamented that she never acted on her hair-brained idea to put wheels on suitcases. The truth is that most people are entrepreneurs. But, not many people are willing to follow through. Discipline is the only bridge between dreams and reality. I recently started a film production company to support my goal of being a successful actress and innovator. As soon as I made the decision, an unprecedented amount of challenges came my way. In order to accomplish my goal of film making, I had to learn to stay on course. No matter how many times I had to swerve. The easiest way to stay on course is to focus on daily small tasks. The big picture is always in the forefront. But, success is the result of the everyday tasks that happen in the background.

Thanks to Mavis Martin, Finegirl Productions!

8) Focusing on People

“Hire slow and fire fast.”- Unknown

People are the lifeblood of our interactive marketing agency and finding individuals that fit our culture and expectations is not easy. But when you find the right fit it is magic for the whole team. On the flip side. One person can be toxic to our growth and productivity, so we move pretty fast when we see that someone is not passionate about the work.

Thanks to Krystal Kinney, THR33FOLD!

9) Passion is Necessary for Success

“It come down to finding something you love to do and then trying to be great at it.” -Mark Cuban

This is my favorite quotes because it takes a lot of hard work and time to build a successful business and if you are not passionate about the business you are building you can easily burn out and fail quickly. When you start a business you have to put a lot of sweat equity into it to make it succeed. So if you don’t love it then don’t go down that road.

Thanks to Nicole Plummer, E Fitness Hub!

10) Rise to the Challenge

“Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

I love this quote because it reminds me that the ultimate success of my business and life depends on me. It’s too easy to fall into the blame game: the reason were having a hard time is because of the economy, the dramatic changes happening within the PR industry, the difficulty finding the right people, etc. However, this quote reminds me that ultimate success of my company and life lies within me not only making me feel better, but also pushing me to strive to learn and grow.

Thanks to Adriana Sol, Vine Communications!

11) Greatness is Infectious

“Great people make you feel that you too can become great.” – Mark Twain 

Make your people feel they can become great-or at least very good-and you might not be a great person but you’ll certainly get great results.  We all know our people can achieve more than they believe they can achieve. So show them that. Show them the vision you have for what they can become and what they can accomplish: a vision you may have helped to instill but one you’ve worked out with them so it encompasses their hopes and dreams. If they think you have a high opinion of them, it’s amazing what they will do to maintain that opinion. And the more they respect you they harder they will work to hang on to your regard.

Thanks to Barry Maher!

12) Embrace Risk

“Sometimes people are so risk-adverse they’re risky.” – Dan Gilbert

You constantly need to be evolving your company in order to stay ahead of the pack and grow. Sure, sometimes you have to play it safe, and it is wise to manage risk, but if a business owner is so concerned with risk that they never stretch, they instead risk stagnating their business and having it marginalized by their customer base. Like they say in Vegas, scared money don’t win.

Thanks to Michael J. Dunklee, Blvd Suites Corporate Housing!

13) Express Yourself Fully

“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” – Neil Gaiman

This quote really touched me, because your business is you, and you need to express yourself fully in order to connect with your customers.

Thanks to Chelsea Jones, Ciel Bleu Footwear!

14) Embrace the Lessons of Improv

There are no mistakes, only opportunities. If I start a scene as what I think is very clearly a cop riding a bicycle, but you think I am a hamster in a hamster wheel, guess what? Now I’m a hamster in a hamster wheel. I’m not going to stop everything to explain that it was really supposed to be a bike. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up being a police hamster who’s been put on “hamster wheel” duty because I’m “too much of a loose cannon” in the field. In improv there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents. And many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident. I mean, look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or Botox.” – Tina Fey, Bossypants

I love this quote because it’s about the rules of improv, and though we might think this is not relevant to business I think good communication is such a huge part of success. Improv teaches us to be spontaneous communicators, to see the other person’s perspective and build on it, which I think is a necessary skill for collaboration and success.

Thanks to Madhavi Jagdish, SimpleBra!

15) Success Follow Love

“Love What You Do.” – Unknown

Success usually follows if you love what you do. The efforts put into something tends to dictate
The outcome. There is a formula to any career and that’s where it starts. Go full force with your clients
By finding out their goals and keeping that in mind in all your work. Creating a long term relationship with
Clients will certainly follow.

Thanks to Adrienne Mazzone, TransMedia Group!

16) The American Dream

“When I got to the new world I realized that the streets were not paved with gold. Then I saw that the streets were not paved at all. Finally, I realized that I was the one who would pave them.” – Unknown

I like this quote and I think about it often because to me it embodies the notion that the American Dream is not something that is just given to you. It is offered to everyone through hard work and perseverance, though not everyone achieves it. What makes this country great is that anyone can.

Thanks to Idan Shpizear, 911 Restoration!

17) Iteration to Changes

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

This is my favorite as it has great applicability in the technology space. Environments, competition and technologies change so fast for us and many of them are out of our control. The winners will be the ones who can readily connect the dots, react quickly to user feedback and iterate to changing market conditions without losing their core.Thanks to Steve Chung, Frankly!

18) 3 Things You Must Have

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” – Biz Stone

I think it touches on 3 things that ALL entrepreneurs must have to make it: timing, perseverance and a lot of hard work. So many people see the wins and think it comes easy, and in fact you often hear “no” more often than you hear yes. But those “yeses” are what keep us going! I remember when we landed Target as a customer, so many people outside the business thought I had “made it” – and yes, that was a big win. But what they didn’t see was the operating expenses explode, floating cash for almost 6 months on production, and growing a staff nearly overnight to handle the volume. This quote makes me smile because what others see as “overnight success” is truly the culmination of many (many) hours of hard work. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Thanks to Angela Mader, fitlosophy, inc.!

19) Importance of Personal Branding

“I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.” – Shawn Carter, aka Jay-Z

“This one-liner from the Kanye West’s song featuring “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” was way ahead of it’s time. It alluded to the importance of personal branding and what I later tied to thought leadership within a business.”

Thanks to David Salinas, Digital Surgeons!

20) Act without Fear

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” – Unknown

The beauty of the inspiration embedded in this question is that it works on so many levels. You can ask yourself this question every day, to motivate you to do little things that are scaring you for whatever reason, and on a larger level, to drive strategy and inspire you to take bold steps and risks. It’s also deeply emotional and psychological, yet also practical. You can use it individually or with your team, and you can use it beyond work, in your personal life. And it’s a reminder that often fear is the main or only obstacle preventing you from achieving your goals. So … what would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Thanks to Holly Epstein Ojalvo, Kicker!

21) Satisfy your Customers & Loyalty Follows

“The absolute fundamental aim is to make money out of satisfying customers.” – John Egan

A few years back I remember shopping at a local mom and pop grocery store. The customer service offered by the owners where fantastic. Even though the prices were a bit more expensive than Walmart I continued to shop there because of the wonderful experience. That experience has put a lasting impression on me. This is something I try to never forget. If you satisfy your customers they will be loyal to your brand and business.

Thanks to Lisa Chu, Black N Bianco Children’s Formal Wear!

22) Find the Right Balance

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. / If you are anxious you are living in the future. / If you are at peace you are living in the present.”― Lao Tzu

Being a CEO is all about balance. You are constantly juggling a million balls in the air, yet need to live in the moment and not let the stress get to you. Finding the right balance is very difficult, yet very rewarding when accomplished – not only for yourself but also for the rest of your team.

Thanks to Alex Moazed, Applico!

23) Integrity is Invaluable

“Always honor your integrity, as no one can ever take that from you.” – David Speakman
I am so thankful that he told me that, because many times along the way when things were tough, there were opportunities where we could have cut corners and done things maybe a little easier and more cost efficiently. However, my angel on my shoulder reminded me that my integrity was invaluable. I walked away from some very lucrative deals at the thought that it could impact on my integrity. It is one of BubbleBum’s core values.”
Thanks to Grainne Kelly, BubbleBum!

24) Failure is Not Final

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

Running a business is an adventure and it’s important to not get frustrated easily when things don’t work out. The important thing is that you grow and learn from your past failures and see each one as a stepping stone to your next success.

Thanks to David Batchelor, DialMyCalls.com!

25) Understand Your Audience

“Know your audience – whether you’re presenting to an internal team, pitching to a client, or talking to a customer, you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes and tailor your message accordingly.” – Susannah Cantrell
The best business quote I ever heard was from Susannah Cantrell, my boss at Genentech. This has been the best piece of advice I’ve received in my career.  If I don’t understand my audience well enough to think from their perspective, I know I have more preparation and research to do.  It’s a great way to guide the way you talk about your business, frame a problem, and gain an engaged and interested audience.
Thanks to Jennifer Chung, Kinsights.com

26) Work Hard

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

Business success is nothing if not a testament to good, old-fashioned hard work. Even in today’s fast-paced world of off-shore outsourcing and titles on bookshop shelves boasting the key to achieving a 4-hour work week, the truth is that if a business owner does not put in the work required to make their business a success, it won’t be. As a young magazine owner, this quote resonated with me. When I have a day of complete procrastination, wondering why on earth I would start such a time-intensive project while still at university, more often then not, I will get no new subscriptions that day. When I click back into action, so do my sales. I also like to think of this quote with a different emphasis – unless our bodies and minds are healthy and working as they should, others will not be inclined to follow us, give us custom, or give us opportunities. Only a healthy, working body – one free of fatigue and negativity – can exude the enthusiasm about their business to make it a success.

Thanks to Lucy Singer, HistoriCool Magazine!

27) To Succeed More, Fail More

“To double your rate of success, you must first double your rate of failure!” – Unknown

I love this, it’s all a numbers game, it’s always….never stop.

Thanks to Dan Fugardi!

28) Be Intentional

“Resist the Usual.” – Raymond Rubicam

It’s my favorite because it’s a reminder to be intentional about what you’re doing and why. As a marketer, it’s very easy do what everyone else is doing or whatever you’ve always done without questioning whether or not it’s right for you or will differentiate your business from your competitors.

Thanks to Rasheen Carbin, Nsphire!

29) Focus on Improving Lives

“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

It’s really that simple. I love this quote because it takes ego out of the equation, and instead emphasizes your impact on your customers, your coworkers, and your community. Whether you’re building a team or a product, if you focus on improving the lives of others you will always eventually win.

Thanks to Michael Schramm, Unseen!

30) Innovate to Survive

“Innovate or Die.” – SVP of Hardware at Microsoft

I am really thankful for this advice, because it has helped me shape the way I run my company. I know that if I don’t keep innovating and bringing new products to market, then my corporation will not survive.” –

Thanks to Sari Davidson-Crevin, BooginHead!

About Gresham Harkless Jr.

Profile photo of Gresham Harkless Jr.
Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.
  • Nice list. I also like “You can have anything you want if you give enough other people what they want.” by Zig Ziglar. It’s so true…

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