The 50 Greatest Entrepreneurial Quotes of All Time

Whenever you need a dose of inspiration, look to these 50 entrepreneurs and take a lesson from their words of wisdom.
Author, Profit First
October 30, 2014

While you shouldn’t necessarily believe everything you read, I’m a big fan of learning lessons from successful folks who’ve come before me. Other entrepreneurs have much to teach us about what to do—and what not to do—on our journey to success. I’ve compiled 50 of the most concise and apt pieces of advice from people who know a thing or two about success.

Getting Started

1. “Starting a business isn't for everyone, and it's not what you should do if you aren't sure what else to do. It requires thick skin and the willingness to carry a great deal of stress, sometimes alone. It's more often a life of failure than a life of success, and the majority of successes came after a long road of disappointment, and often shame.” —Kathryn Minshew

2. “Running a startup is like eating glass. You just start to like the taste of your own blood.” —Sean Parker

3. “Startup success is not a consequence of good genes or being in the right place at the right time. Startup success can be engineered by following the right process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.” —Eric Ries

4. “Great companies start because the founders want to change the world... not make a fast buck.” —Guy Kawasaki

5. “AltaVista existed before Google. Folgers existed before Starbucks. Budweiser existed before Sam Adams. MySpace existed before Facebook. Rio MP3 players existed before iPods. Where would we be if we listened to all the naysayers who said, ‘Why bother—somebody’s already doing it!’ It’s always being done, you can do it better. —MJ DeMarco

Keeping Your Priorities Straight

6. “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” —Henry Ford

7.  “I do not equate productivity to happiness. For most people, happiness in life is a massive amount of achievement plus a massive amount of appreciation. And you need both of those things.” —Timothy Ferriss

8. “Too many people think only of their own profit. But business opportunity seldom knocks on the door of self-centered people. No customer ever goes to a store merely to please the storekeeper.” —Kazuo Inamori

9. “The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” —Arnold Toynbee

Defining Success

10. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” —Winston Churchill

11. “Success is more permanent when you achieve it without destroying your principles.” —Walter Cronkite

12. “Among the things that you, and you alone, are the absolute and final judge of is whether or not you are a success.” —Robert Brault

13. “Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure.” —Earl Wilson

14. “Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.” —Dale Carnegie

15. “Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction.” —Al Bernstein


16. “I've seen that phenomenally successful people believe they can learn something from everybody. I call them 'mavericks with mentors.' Richard Branson, for instance, is a total maverick, but he surrounds himself with incredibly successful, smart people and he listens to them.” —Brendon Burchard

17. “The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.” —John C. Maxwell

18. “What you want in a mentor is someone who truly cares for you and who will look after your interests and not just their own. When you do come across the right person to mentor you, start by showing them that the time they spend with you is worthwhile.” —Vivek Wadhwa

Hiring Great Employees

19. “I don’t pay good wages because I have a lot of money; I have a lot of money because I pay good wages.” —Robert Bosch

20. “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.” —David Ogilvy

21. “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” —Red Adair

22. “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” —H.E. Luccock

23. “Want to change the world? Upset the status quo? This takes more than run-of-the-mill relationships. You need to make people dream the same dream that you do.” —Guy Kawasaki

Pushing Boundaries

24. “Always make your future bigger than your past.” —Dan Sullivan

25. “Willingness to change is a strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while.” —Jack Welch

26. “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” —Steve Jobs

Finding Your Niche

27. “I have a personal philosophy in life: If somebody else can do something that I'm doing, they should do it. And what I want to do is find things that would represent a unique contribution to the world—the contribution that only I, and my portfolio of talents, can make happen. Those are my priorities in life.” —Neil deGrasse Tyson

28. “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.” —Seth Godin

29. “If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete.” —Jack Welch


30. “Every financial worry you want to banish and financial dream you want to achieve comes from taking tiny steps today that put you on a path toward your goals.” —Suze Orman


31. “The way we measure productivity is flawed. People checking their BlackBerry over dinner is not productivity.” —Timothy Ferriss

Marketing Philosophies

32. “Social media requires that business leaders start thinking like small-town shop owners. This means taking the long view and avoiding short-term benchmarks to gauge progress. It means allowing the personality, heart and soul of the people who run all levels of the business to show.” —Gary Vaynerchuk

33. “Marketing is what you do to get people in front of you.” —Joe Polish

34. “Marketing is creating conditions by which others decide on their own that they want what you've got.” —Burt Dubin

35. “There are two kinds of marketing: expensive and inexpensive. Expensive marketing is the kind that doesn't work. Inexpensive marketing is the kind that works—regardless of cost.” —Jay Conrad Levinson

36. “If you want to establish a clear image in the minds of consumers, you first need a clear image in your own mind.” —Sergio Zyman

Being a Leader

37. “Remember the difference between a boss and a leader: a boss says ‘Go!’, a leader says ‘Let's go!’” —E.M. Kelly

38. “A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” —Arnold H. Glasow

39. “Management is the art of making problems so interesting that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.” —Paul Hawken

40. “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish.” —Sam Walton

Dealing With Failure

41. “If you don't make mistakes, you're not working on hard enough problems. And that's a big mistake.” —F. Wikzek

42. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” —Bill Gates

43. “The biggest hurdle is rejection. Any business you start, be ready for it. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the successful people do all the things the unsuccessful people don't want to do. When 10 doors are slammed in your face, go to door number 11 enthusiastically, with a smile on your face.” —John Paul DeJoria

44. “An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.” —Niels Bohr

45. “It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and neither should you. All you have to do is learn from them and those around you because ... all that matters in business is that you get it right once. Then everyone can tell you how lucky you are.” —Mark Cuban

46. “I've come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.” —Tony Robbins

The Lighter Side

47. “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak.” —Jay Leno

48. “A mission statement is a dense slab of words that a large organization produces when it needs to establish that its workers are not just sitting around downloading Internet porn.” —Dave Barry

49. “Your business clothes are naturally attracted to staining liquids. This attraction is strongest just before an important meeting.” —Scott Adams

50. “By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.” —Robert Frost

Whether I need a quote to put a smile on my face or to inspire me to push through difficulties, knowing that other successful folks have faced the same situations that I do is always inspiring.

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Author, Profit First