When I read a thoughtful quote, I try to imagine the person who originally said it and what they were going through at the moment of their epiphany. Most of the time, quotes that resonate with people deal with overcoming adversity or summoning the courage to face your fears. I believe it’s a person’s attempt to leave his or her mark on the world, allowing others to learn from their mistakes or education.
I often refer to quotes to help drive home a point or to reinforce my position on a topic. In some cases, I don’t attribute the quote to anyone, because there is debate about who originally said something that has withstood the test of time. To me, what was said is far more important than the person who said it.
With that in mind, I've included some of my favorite quotes below—a little poetic motivation to help you make the most of 2014. Carpe diem!
1. "Never justify failure."
Arguably one of my favorite quotes. Who knew that three simple words could be so powerful? Write this quote on a piece of paper and put it somewhere that you can see it every day. The first step in long-term success is not justifying short-term failure.
2. "Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for." —Socrates
This quote is the basis for my post! As a friend and fellow entrepreneur likes to say, “A smart man learns from his own mistakes; a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” Be the wise man and treat these quotes as if they are clues to help you unravel the mysteries of business and life. They will help you find the keys to your success.
3. "Success is not permanent and failure is not fatal." —Mike Ditka, Football Legend
How true! We often picture good and bad days as if that’s the way we will spend the rest of our lives. If you take a 20,000-foot view of your life and business career, you will see that it is filled with mountains and valleys. The challenge is to enjoy the mountain top views and never lose faith or hope while working our way through the valleys.
4. "Never cut what you can untie."
In other words, think before you act. There are too many distractions in business today leading to quick decisions based on inaccurate information. These bad decisions will ultimately cost you a lot more in the long run.
A good example is partnering with another company on a project that doesn’t go according to plan. One partner decides to get out and doesn’t think of the consequences of his or her decision to quickly end the relationship. It could cost them money, future opportunities and possibly damage their reputation. A better approach would be to talk through ending the partnership so that both sides agree to the terms. Another way to look at this situation is “never blow up a bridge that you might need to cross again.”
5. "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." —Babe Ruth
In business, you want to be the company that keeps finding ways to win or retain business. Whether that means delivering exceptional customer service, finding innovative solutions to current problems, or simply engaging with potential clients to discuss their objectives and goals, you want to be known as the company that never gives up on its customers. Things will go wrong for your business in 2014. Plan for it to happen. Then decide how you will fix the situation and get your business back on track. Make your competitors rue the day you opened your doors.
6. "Prepare! Knowledge is power. It gives you the basis for a meaningful discussion, builds your credibility and you earn the right to your client’s time, trust and information."
This quote is self-explanatory. If you don’t prepare, don’t expect to win.
7. "Beware of little expenses: A small leak will sink a ship." —Benjamin Franklin
Another excellent quote to post somewhere in your office. Business is as much about defense as it is offense. The answer to cash-flow problems isn’t always, “We need to sell more stuff.” Sometimes, the answer is, "We need to stop buying stuff that we don’t necessarily need.” Make it a point in 2014 to regularly review your expenses. Are you overpaying for products and services? Are you buying items that you don’t need to run your business? Look to cut fat but don’t cut muscle or bone in the process.
8. "If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it." —Erma Bombeck, Author & Humorist
I love this quote because it reminds me to include humor in every day. Sometimes we get so caught up in the daily battles of business that we forget to laugh. Laughter reduces stress and clears the mind which helps us make better business decisions.
9. "You don’t need a title to be a leader."
In business, people are given titles to help explain their role in the company. Titles help provide structure to an organization and allow it to run more efficiently. We also say that certain people are our bosses. A boss is someone in charge. What if there weren’t any titles in your company? Who would people turn to for advice or in moments of crisis? Those people are the real leaders.
10. "Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason." —Jerry Seinfeld
Business owners like to think differently. Most of the time it works, but there is also downside risk to this approach. If you decide to get off the well-traveled road in business and “blaze your own path,” it can get very expensive and time-consuming. Do you have the resources to build out your idea to the point where you can realize profits from your hard work?
One of the biggest reasons for failure among small businesses is under-capitalization. Another big reason is poor planning. Before you make an important decision on the future path of your company, take into consideration what it will take to be successful. Find mentors who have done what you want to do and seek their guidance.
As the founder and CEO of Brian Moran & Associates, Brian helps entrepreneurs run better businesses. He was formerly the executive director at The Wall Street Journal, overseeing the financial and small-business markets across the WSJ franchise. From 2002 to 2010, Brian ran Veracle Media and Moran Media Group, content companies in the SMB market.