The Best 25 Business Quotes From Thought Leaders

These memorable quotes by top business leaders and industry greats, from Edison to Jobs, let us know we're not alone.
Author, Profit First
May 13, 2014

Entrepreneurs in general are take-charge, independent people. I sure fit into this mold myself, but I also recognize the wisdom that can be gleaned from the words of business and thought leaders who have shaped the world to accommodate their vision and passion. I’ve assembled some of the choicest bits of wisdom on several business topics.

Minimalism/Simplicity

One of the traits I admire in many thought leaders is their inclination to simplify their approaches to business and to their lives in general.

1. “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”—E.F. Schumacher

2. "That's been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”—Steve Jobs

3. “If you see a snake, just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on snakes.”—Henry Ross Perot

4. “Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing ... layout, processes, and procedures.”—Tom Peters

Tenacity

Entrepreneurs, contrary to common belief, aren’t superhuman. We make mistakes, and if we’re smart, we learn from those mistakes and make all new ones on the next venture. We shouldn’t strive to be perfect; we should strive to keep trying even in the face of difficulty.

5. “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”—Colin Powell

6. “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”—Dale Carnegie

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

8. “Failure doesn't mean you are a failure. It just means you haven't succeeded yet.”—Robert H. Schuller

9. “Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.”—Thomas A. Edison

10. “Once you free yourself from the need for perfect acceptance, it’s a lot easier to launch work that matters.”—Seth Godin

11. “The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake—you can’t learn anything from being perfect.”
—Adam Osborne

How To Treat Employees

Even though we may expend a lot of our time and energy hiring and retaining our staff, there a few things we should always keep in mind.

12. “The way to get things done is not to mind who gets the credit for doing them.”—Benjamin Jowett

13. “You don't lie to your own doctor. You don't lie to your own attorney, and you don't lie to your employees.”—Gordon Bethune

14. “Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can't miss.”—Lee Iacocca

15. “People are definitely a company's greatest asset. It doesn't make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”—Mary Kay Ash

16. “Hire character. Train skill.”—Peter Schutz

And because it helps to have a sense of humor ...

17. “Employees make the best dates. You don't have to pick them up and they're always tax-deductible.”—Andy Warhol

The Nature of the Successful Entrepreneur

What qualities differentiate the successful entrepreneurs from everyone else?

18. Originality: “The secret of business is to know something that nobody else knows.”—Aristotle Onassis

19. Direction: “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”—Lucius Annaeus Seneca

20. Independence and Focus: “Hell, there are no rules here—we're trying to accomplish something.”—Thomas A. Edison

21. Vision: “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”—Peter Drucker

22. Thirst for knowledge: “What we actually learn, from any given set of circumstances, determines whether we become increasingly powerless or more powerful.”—Blaine Lee

23. Drive: “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.“—Nolan Bushnell

24. Flexibility: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.“—Charles Darwin

25. Dedication: “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”—Jack Welch

I don’t think that memorable quotes are a panacea, but I know for sure that I’ve found it heartening to know that giants of business and captains of industry have struggled with the same issues that I face as an entrepreneur.

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