As a small business owner, you face an excessive amount of pressure. Afterall, the decisions you make directly contribute to the success of your business and the livelihood of your employees. At times, the sheer responsibility of it all can feel overwhelming. But you must persist.
When you find yourself in need of a little motivation, reference these inspirational quotes from some of the world’s greatest thinkers and minds in business.
If you find something you like, we encourage you to write it down, make a meme out of it, stick it to your monitor or even frame it; because words have power—and they might just spark your next entrepreneurial move.
12 Motivational Quotes for Small Business Owners Facing Failure
Ask any small business owner—whether they’re starting a new business or manning the helm of an established brand—what they fear most, and you’ll likely hear your fair share of “failure.”
We’ve been hardwired to think failure is bad. And we’re not wrong: you can’t succeed by failing. However, we certainly can learn and grow from it.
Take James Dyson, for example. When Dyson invented his first Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner, he spent 15 years creating 5,126 versions that failed before he made one that worked. The payoff was a multi-billion dollar company known for its creativity and forward-thinking design.
So when you spend weeks, months or even years working on something that doesn’t pan out, don’t let it stop you and do as James Dyson did: Learn from your mistake, iterate, and succeed.
Find inspiration in these business quotes on failure:
- “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.”
~John Wooden, basketball player and head coach at the University of California
- “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
~Ken Robinson, author, speaker and international advisor
- “If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail. It takes backbone to lead the life you want.”
~Richard Yates, fiction writer
- “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.”
~Denis Waitley, motivational speaker
- “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
~Thomas A. Edison, inventor
- “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
~Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister
- “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”
~Robert T. Kiyosaki, founder of Rich Global LLC and the Rich Dad Company
- “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
~Napoleon Hill, self-help author
- “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.”
~Zig Ziglar, author salesman and motivational speaker
- “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”
~Thomas Watson Sr., chairman and CEO of IBM
- “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”
~Drew Houston, founder and CEO of Dropbox
- “You have to see failure as the beginning and the middle, but never entertain it as an end.”
-Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO of Stella & Dot
9 Business Quotes Whose Messages of Perseverance Will Inspire You
Perseverance is a trait all great leaders have. It’s this tenacity that keeps them going when the going gets tough.
As you know, the road to entrepreneurship is rarely smooth. You face obstacles every day. But if you take the time and effort to cultivate determination, you can achieve the seemingly impossible. J.K. Rowling did it; so can you.
J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, is currently the second-richest female entertainer on the planet, behind Oprah. When Rowling was writing the original Harry Potter book, her life was in shambles. She was going through a divorce, living in a tiny flat with her daughter, surviving on government subsidies all while dealing with the untimely death of her mother. Despite these negatives, J.K. Rowling persevered, devoting most of her free time to writing. The result is a brand name currently worth $15 billion.
What’s the key takeaway? Few people achieve anything significant without first overcoming obstacles.
Reference these quotes to overcome whatever obstacle is currently standing in your way:
- “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
~Martin Luther King Jr., minister and activist
- “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
~Thomas Edison, inventor
- “Timing, perseverance and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”
~Biz Stone, entrepreneur and co-founder of Twitter
- “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
~Steve Jobs, co-founder, CEO, chairman Apple Inc.
- “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President
- “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”
~Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister
- “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
~Vince Lombardi, executive, head coach and NFL player
- “I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars —I look for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”
~Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO Berkshire Hathaway
- “There is no finish line. There are only mile markers.”
~Michael Ventura, novelist
6 Business Quotes on Innovation
In today’s tech-driven world, change is the only constant. The rate of change throughout every industry is steadily increasing and shows no signs of slowing down. Although it’s not easy, the good news for small businesses and startups is that your size makes you agile enough to adapt to it.
As a product, service or process innovator, you’re setting the model—not following one. This requires you to take on a certain level of risk.
Consider Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. This tunnel-based system will allow tourists and commuters to travel at 760 mph inside sealed pods. Although the technology is still being developed, it could displace intercity flights as the preferred method of travel with its low power consumption, immunity to weather conditions and speeds twice that of aircraft. If it fails, the project could prove spectacularly life-threatening and expensive.
If you find yourself at the crossroads of choosing to pursue innovation or stick with the status quo, remember these quotes from breakthrough innovators:
- “You can’t ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
~Steve Jobs, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple
- “Without change there is no innovation, creativity or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
~William Pollard, physicist
- “The only way you survive is you continuously transform into something else. It’s this idea of continuous transformation that makes you an innovation company.”
~Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM
- “There is only one thing stronger than all the armies of the world: and that is an idea whose time has come.”
~Victor Hugo, Poet
- “Ultimately, progress and innovation win.”
~Travis Kalanick, businessman and co-founder of Scour, Red Swoosh and Uber
- “When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars, people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.”
~Elon Musk, founder, CEO of SpaceX & Tesla; co-founder of PayPal
7 Motivational Quotes About Risk-Taking Every Small Business Owner Should Reference
As a small business owner, you’re used to taking risks. After all, the act of starting a business is inherently risky in and of itself. You may have left a steady-paying job to start your own business and invested a substantial amount of money to open your doors, knowing the challenges that lie ahead. In fact, according to the SBA, half of all small businesses fail within the first five years of operation.
And the risk-taking continues to this day. You risk your reputation each time you introduce a new product or service to the market. There are risks involved in hiring employees, embarking on new marketing strategies and adopting new business models.
Entrepreneurship overall involves a great deal of risk, and you need to be ready to take these risks on if you’re going to succeed.
Case in point: Henry Ford. The world-famous inventor of the automobile was willing to take risks. He slashed prices so steeply that he risked taking losses, yet he managed to meet the crushing demand for his Model T and redefined the art of manufacturing in the process.
So the next time you’re faced with risk when running your small business, read over these seven quotes to muster courage.
- “Life doesn’t always present you with the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. Opportunities come when you least expect them, or when you’re not ready for them. Rarely are opportunities presented to you in the perfect way, in a nice little box with a yellow bow on top. Opportunities, the good ones, they’re messy and confusing and hard to recognize. They’re risky. They challenge you.”
~Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube
- “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.”
~Mark Zuckerberg, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Facebook
- “Make the choices that make you nervous. If you make the choice that’s the easy way out, that wasn’t the big vision or big choice to make.”
~Eileen Burbidge, partner of Passion Capital
- “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
~Steve Jobs, former co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc.
- “You shouldn’t focus on why you can’t do something, which is what most people do. You should focus on why perhaps you can, and be one of the exceptions.”
~Steve Case, co-founder of AOL
- “You can’t be successful in business without taking risks. It’s really that simple.”
~Adena Friedman, president of Nasdaq
- “When I’m old and dying, I plan to look back on my life and say ‘wow, that was an adventure,’ not ‘wow, I sure felt safe.’”
~Tom Preston-Werner, co-founder Github
11 Quotes to Inspire Success in Your Small Business
Success. It’s a destination all business owners aspire to reach. But what defines success, and how do you know you’ve “made it”? The definition varies, but there’s one thing that all can agree on: success is the product of persistent hard work.
Despite inherent talent, wits, connections and money, many of today’s most successful names in business wouldn’t be where they are today without having an insane work ethic.
Take Mark Cuban, for example. When starting his first company, the now billionaire routinely stayed up until 2 am reading about new software and went seven years without a vacation.
While you put in the hard work to stoke the fire of your own success, refer to these quotes to keep your forward momentum.
- “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”
~Jim Rohn, entrepreneur
- “I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.”
~Estee Lauder, co-founder of Estee Lauder Companies
- “In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.”
~Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek writer and Nobel Prize nominee
- “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”
~Conrad Hilton, hotelier and founder of Hilton Hotels
- “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”
~Colin Powell, former U.S. National Security Advisor
- “Have the end in mind and every day make sure you’re working towards it.”
~Ryan Allis, founder of iContact Corporation
- “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.”
~Maya Angelou, poet
- “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
~Napoleon Hill, self-help author
- “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
~Steve Jobs, co-founder, CEO, chairman Apple, Inc.
- “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.”
~Oprah Winfrey, media proprietor
- “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
~Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric
Running a business is not for the faint of heart. It takes vision, talent and pure determination. At times, the challenges can feel overwhelming. But with the right mindset, any obstacle can be surmounted. We hope you found inspiration in this list of 45 motivational business quotes. Best of luck on your entrepreneurial journey!