Hearing the right words, at the right time, can be life changing.
Especially when it comes to entrepreneurship. The best quotes contain meaningful lessons from successful (or at least experienced) people.
I’ve compiled 10 of the most meaningful quotes about entrepreneurship that I could find, geared mostly towards starting a small business.
Reading any one of them could make things “click,” either right now or in the near future.
Hopefully, you’ll find at least a few actionable takeaways from these quotes.
Let’s dig in.
Entrepreneur Quotes About Getting Started
Getting started is one of the biggest hurdles to entrepreneurship. These quotes have meaningful messages that may help you overcome doubts.
1. “You are not your resume, you are your work.” – Seth Godin
Even if you don’t have amazing career experience, or extensive education, don’t think that you can’t create a successful business.
When customers come to you, they want to know about your work, not your background. Maybe you can’t make the next SpaceX, but most small businesses don’t require genius, just a ton of passion and effort. Ray Kroc was a traveling salesman before starting McDonalds, and it never got in his way.
If you don’t have the education needed for your idea, get it. There are so many low cost educational resources available for anyone online. There are Udemy courses for entrepreneurs, and there’s even courses that teach felons how to code.
So many small businesses ideas are shut down before even given a fair chance.
Seth Godin is a best-selling author whose expertise is the marketing of ideas.
Explore his inspiring website and blog.
2. “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
In entrepreneur communities, many are labeled “wantrepreneurs.” These are people that love to read and think about entrepreneurship, but never try to execute an idea for whatever reason.
Bushnell eloquently sums up that if you truly want to be an entrepreneur, you must take immediate action.
If you haven’t yet, pick one step that you can take right now to get your idea in action. Stop reading this post or any other post and go do it. You can start most online businesses right now, or learn how to create a free website or start a mobile app from the comfort of your own home.
If you have an idea, but you’re not sure if it’s good, don’t sit around thinking about whether it will or won’t. Instead, validate your idea.
Nolan Bushnell is a serial entrepreneur who founded Atari and hired a young Steve Jobs. Explore his website.
3. “Many small businesses are doomed from day one, not from competition or the economy, but from the ignorance of their owners . . . their destiny is already decided because they have no idea how a business should be operated.” – William Manchee
I love this quote from Manchee because many enthusiastic entrepreneurs think small business is all about the idea.
In reality, running a business is difficult, and you need to develop several skills to do so. So yes, spend time learning how to create your product and innovate, but also learn about how to run your business more effectively.
Here are some resources to get you started:
- The best books for entrepreneurs.
- The best business podcasts.
- How to write a business plan.
- A simple guide to choosing the right business type.
William Manchee is a practicing attorney who has helped dozens of entrepreneurs turn their businesses around. Read his book, Go Broke, Die Rich.
Entrepreneur Quotes About Motivation
The quotes in this section will help you if you’ve hit a rough patch and are wondering if running a small business is really what you want to do.
4. “Don’t look at small business as a means to an end and a way to make money until the corporation hires you; look at it as a chance to create something of immeasurable value and beauty in a world that desperately needs it.” – Michael Gerber
You’ve seen it first hand: corporations don’t care about innovation or making the world a better place, they care about making shareholders happy, which means profit.
In industries where there are monopolies or oligopolies, like the telecom industry in North America, there is stagnation.
If you want to get motivated about creating or running a small business, think about the unique opportunity you have: the chance to run a business however you’d like, and to try to make a real difference in the world, even if it’s on a smaller scale.
Michael Gerber has been dubbed “The world’s #1 small business guru” by Inc. magazine. Explore Michael Gerber’s website.
5. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs
As just about every entrepreneur finds out at some point, if you don’t truly love what you’re doing, it’s hard to keep pushing forward everyday.
Inevitably, you’ll hit rough patches, and it can be hard to get through them.
Passion is something that many successful entrepreneurs identify as important, not just Steve Jobs.
Richard Branson has often recognized the importance of passion, and says that if you don’t have it for an idea, you should try to approach the idea from a different angle that you would be passionate about.
Steve Jobs was an entrepreneur whose ‘impossible’ inventions and products transformed the world. Learn more about his design thinking.
6. “The very first company I started failed with a great bang. The second one failed a little bit less, but still failed. The third one, you know, proper failed, but it was kind of OK. I recovered quickly. Number four almost didn’t fail. It still didn’t really feel great, but it did OK. Number five was PayPal.” – Max Levchin
Even with all the passion and education, and a good idea, your small business still might fail. There are so many parts of running a successful business, that it takes time to learn them all.
Many need to be learned through experience; Through failure.
Max Levchin co-founded PayPal and currently is CEO of Affirm. Browse Max Levchin’s minimalist website to learn more about his background.
Entrepreneur Quotes About Running A Small Business
These quotes focus mostly on lessons about how to run a small business successfully.
7. “If you’re going to run a small business, you need to know what everyone is doing, be the first one in and the last one out, and work weekends.” – Glen Mazzara
Glen isn’t advocating for you to do everything, just that you should know how you want all the work in your business performed.
That’s the only way you can develop systems, train employees effectively, and scale up without everything falling apart.
Glen Mazzara is a television producer best-known for The Shield and The Walking Dead.
8. “Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.” – Zig Ziglar
Have you started a small business but are getting discouraged from negative customer feedback and slow sales?
While many find this discouraging, they’re actually a great thing for your business, as Ziglar sums up here.
Only 1 in 26 unhappy customers will actually complain, and 13% of those unhappy customers will tell 15 (or more) people about their bad experience. This is your chance to make a significant improvement in your product or service.
If you’re not getting any feedback at all, improve your customer service to open communication between your business and its customers.
Zig Ziglar ( 1926 – 2012) is a best-selling personal development author and speaker. His company, Ziglar, Inc, is run by his son Tom. Learn more by visiting Ziglar, Inc.
9. “Small business people are people with goals and values that can’t be calculated on a profit and loss statement.” – Linda McMahon
It can be hard to stay motivated when you’re struggling to get a fraction of the revenue of the “big guys”.
Whenever you lose motivation, think about this quote.
Yes, you want your small business to make a profit and grow. But more importantly, it’s your small business.
It’s a reflection of who you are, because you have full control over how it operates.
Remember why you became an entrepreneur in the first place, and always keep trying to do things the “right way” to you. That’s the opportunity that a small business gives you, if you want it.
Linda McMahon is the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment and the current leader of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Read this interview to learn more about her business philosophy.
10. “We are really competing against ourselves, we have no control over how other people perform.” – Pete Cashmore
I heard this quote from Cashmore (founder of Mashable) years ago, and still recall it clearly.
Too many entrepreneurs focus on results outside of their control, like their competitors. If you’re distracted, it will reduce your productivity, and add a lot more stress.
Instead, channel your focus into developing your own internal systems that will lead you to creating the business that you want. If you do that, success will follow regardless of what your competitors do.
Pete Cashmore is the founder and CEO of the popular blog Mashable, which was sold for $50 million in 2017.
As a few of the quotes alluded to, words and intentions are only meaningful if they lead to action.
I hope some of these quotes and resources gave you some motivation or direction with your small business.
I highly recommend either noting down your favorite quotes here, or bookmarking this page. Revisit them occasionally and see if you get a different meaning from them as your circumstances change.
Photos of Michael Gerber (by Infusionsoft Sales and Marketing) (Note: Infusionsoft is now Keap), Linda McMahon (by Michael Vadon), Pete Cashmore (by Josh Hallett) courtesy of Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0 (CC BY-SA 2.0) license)
Photo of Steve Jobs by Matthew Yohe, via WikiMedia Commons, license: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Photo of Glen Mazzara by Kempton via WikiMedia Commons courtesy of a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.