25 Motivational Quotes for Entrepreneurs

This article is also posted on ChangeTheCompany.com

Words have power. Their very existence brings to life the physical and the metaphysical. They bring meaning and weight and validation to concepts and ideas. Without words, we stumble and struggle to express ourselves.

Success requires ambition, hard work, inspiration, and motivation. However, inspiration can come and go in waves, even for the motivated. What could be the cure?

Words are the cure. More specifically, the words of those who have come before can cure anyone in a rut. The well-placed words that make up a good quote can keep motivation steady and inspiration flowing.

There isn’t a perfect quote for everyone. Heck, sometimes one quote isn’t enough. Thus, we’ve gathered up twenty-five quotes from the greats (plus a bit of their stories) to keep our current-day entrepreneurs motivated and moving down the road to success. 

1) “Everything started as nothing.”

Although his name might not be known to you, Ben Weissenstein is the founder and CEO of The Entitled Group as well as several other businesses. One of his first businesses, Grand Slam Garage Sales, started running garage sales for people in Houston, Texas before growing into a nationwide business teaching people how to make money by selling others’’ items for them offline or online. Another one of Weissenstein’s ventures is www.EverythingStartedAsNothing.com, a website created to help motivate people to chase their dreams by selling T-Shirts and other apparel.

2) “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”

An American educator, author, orator, and adviser to several presidents of the United States, Booker T. Washington was a dominant leader in the African American community from 1980 to 1915. He was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. He founded the National Negro Business League and became infamous for his “Atlanta compromise” speech, which called for black progress through education and entrepreneurship to combat the Jim Crow segregation laws. 

3) “How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.”

Yvon Chouinard, an American rock climber, environmentalist, and outdoor industry billionaire businessman, created Patagonia, an American clothing company focused on environmental protection. In 2017, the company was recognized for its innovative family/maternity leave policies. It also commits 1% of its total sales to environmental groups and donated the $10 million it received from President Trump’s 2017 tax cuts to “groups committed to protecting air, land and water and finding solutions to the climate crisis.”

4) “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

There’s a reason he’s considered one of the most successful investors in the world. With a net worth of $100.6 billion, Warren Buffett is the world’s seventh wealthiest person. He’s the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, a company that owns, to name a few, GEICO, Duracell, Dairy Queen, BNSF, Lubrizol, and Fruit of the Loom. Today, Buffett is known for having pledged to give away 99 percent of his fortune to philanthropic causes, primarily via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

5) “Don’t be cocky. Don’t be flashy. There’s always someone better than you.”

An American internet entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Tony Hsieh was the CEO of the online shoe and clothing company Zappos for 21 years, a company that was later acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion.

6) “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

The CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs pioneered in the computer industry and set the 21st century aflame with the iPhone. Before Jobs became CEO, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy, but thanks to his innovations in marketing and technology, he managed to sweep the world with the iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and more.

7) “If you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It defines you. Forget about vacations, about going home at 6 pm – last thing at night you’ll send emails, first thing in the morning you’ll read emails, and you wake up in the middle of the night. But it’s hugely rewarding as you’re fulfilling something for yourself.”

It takes a lot for your company to become a verb, but thanks to Niklas Zennstrom, Skype has been entered into the English language as one. Not only did he found Skype, but he also was a founder in KaZaA, a file sharing application that dominated the early 2000s.

8) “If you look to lead, invest at least 40% of your time managing yourself – your ethics, character, principles, purpose, motivation, and conduct. Invest at least 30% managing those with authority over you, and 15% managing your peers.”

Before being accepted into the Business Hall of Fame in 1991, Dee Ward Hock was an official of a local bank in Washington state that was franchised by the Bank of America. After many years and hard work, he managed to convince Bank of America to give up ownership and control of their BankAmericard credit card licensing program, forming a new company, National BankAmericard Inc. Most infamously, the BankAmericard was rebranded as “Visa” in 1976; a company you may have heard of once or twice.

9) “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), author of the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, created not one but two of the greatest pieces of American literature. A humorist, publisher, and entrepreneur, Mark Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, even overcoming a minor setback in the form of bankruptcy to become one of the greatest Americans known around the world.

10) “Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.”

Ryan Freitas is the Co-Founder of About.Me, a service that offers a free about.me/username page and/or a subscription-based page having a custom domain and more features. The company has been acquired by AOL and Ryan Freitas served as Director of Product Management and is currently the Director Of Product Design at Facebook.

11) “Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet.”

One of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington, John Lewis headed many key roles in the civil rights movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States.

A companion of civil rights to the end, John Lewis served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death in 2020.

His words continue to inspire us all.

To learn more about Lewis and his life, we recommend the trilogy of graphic novels titled “March,” co-written by Lewis himself. 

12) “Don’t be afraid to assert yourself, have confidence in your abilities and don’t let the bastards get you down.”

Majority owner and co-founder of Bloomberg L.P, Michael Bloomberg is one of many American businessmen to transcend the private sector and enter the public sector, becoming the Mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013.

13) “High expectations are the key to everything.”

There’s a Walmart in almost every town, and that’s thanks to Sam Walter. A founder of Walmart and Sam’s club, Sam Walton was once the richest man in America. Thanks to him, Walmart has grown to be the world’s largest corporation by revenue as well as the biggest private employer in the world.

14) “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Does Walt Disney need an introduction? Creator of Mickey Mouse and pioneer in American animation, Walt Disney holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations, but that’s nothing compared to the power his infamous company holds today thanks to his great actions.

15) “Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical.”

Howard Schultz came a long way from working at a lowly Starbucks in 1982. It was thanks to his creation of Il Giornale, a specialty coffee shop, that brought him notoriety. Fortune came when the company merged with Starbucks, and fame came when he became its CEO, heading the company through the 2008 financial crisis.

16) “Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.”

You might not know her first name, but her last name is infamous. Arianna Huffington is the cofounder of The Huffington Post. She’s come a long way since her days as a popular conservative commentator in the mid-1990s, becoming both an entrepreneur and being named on Forbes’ Most Powerful Women list.

17) “The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.”

Seth Godin is the founder of Squidoo, a revenue-sharing article-writing site. The site made Godin a fortune, especially when it was acquired by HubPages in 2014.

18) “Entrepreneur is someone who has a vision for something and a want to create.”

David Karp is the founder and former CEO of Tumblr. He began his career without having received a high school diploma at the animation company Frederator Studios, where he built the studio’s first blogging platform, and later went on to create his own software consulting company Davidville, and later, Tumblr.

After being named Best Young Tech Entrepreneur by BusinessWeek in 2009 and named to MIT Technology Review in 2010, Karp was a well-known figure for someone under the age of thirty-five. Yahoo! later bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion, and Karp soon left afterwards for new entrepreneurial horizons.

19) “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.”

Sir Richard Branson dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur at a young age. At the age of 16, he created Student, a magazine by and for students. When he was an adult, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, in 1972.

From there his career skyrocketed, expanding Virgin’s brand into Virgin Atlantic airline and the Virgin Records music label.

20) “Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.”

The founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Mary Kay Ash retired in 1963 and intended to write a book to assist women in business, but that book turned into a business plan. Determined to put it into action, Mary Kay Ash created Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. The company went on to gross more than $1.2 billion in sales.

21) “Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself.”

This quote is from Oprah Winfrey.

Dubbed the “Queen of All Media,” Oprah started out with little, but with an enormous amount of hard work, she managed to make an enormous amount of money as a talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist.

Best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah became one of the richest African American of the 20th century and has continued as North America’s first black multi-billionaire and the greatest black philanthropist in American history.

22) “When you find an idea that you just can’t stop thinking about, that’s probably a good one to pursue.”

The CEO and founder of Omniture was Josh James, who went on to create Domo where he remains as CEO.

It’s tough to be the head of one highly successful company, let alone two. Domo Inc specializes in business intelligence tools and data visualization and has been named on the Women Tech Council (WTC) 2020 Shatter List for the third consecutive year for hiring and retaining women in IT careers. Omniture, an online marketing and web analytic business, was acquired by Adobe and integrated with the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

23) “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

Ralph Nader is an American political activist, author, lecturer, and attorney noted for his involvement in consumer protection, environmentalism, and government reform causes.

24) “Failure is an option here.”

Elon Musk is the founder, CEO, CTO, and chief designer of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla, Inc, co-founder of The Boring Company, and one of the richest people in the world.

How did he get so successful? Easy! He failed. After all, everyone fails before they succeed.

25) “My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had — every day I’m learning something new.”

Richard Branson made a previous appearance in this article as the source of quote #19. He was inspiring enough to quote twice.

For Branson, as well as everyone else, motivation was the key to opening the doorway into success. Now that you have twenty-five quotes, go out and make your dreams a reality. Once your dreams become reality, keep dreaming. They’re a great way to get ideas.

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