I love a good quote. I’ve been collecting them for over four decades now, and it still blows my mind how powerfully other people’s words can improve my understanding of certain ideas. Lately I’ve been thinking about ways to help entrepreneurs with their businesses, and from my files I’ve pulled out some quotes that I think are extremely helpful for anyone who owns—or dreams of owning—their own business.
Being an entrepreneur is hard. There are challenges in so many areas: time, resources, commitments, character. Fear can be an ever-present enemy. But along with the challenges, the rewards are abundant as well: opportunity, independence, freedom, flexibility, and so many more.
In fact, the entrepreneur embraces what Peter Drucker once said: “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”
But Peter isn’t the only one with wise words for entrepreneurs. In fact, here are some other great quotes that I believe entrepreneurs of all stripes will find helpful.
“Energy motivates but charisma inspires. Energy is easy to see, easy to measure, and easy to copy. Charisma is hard to define, near impossible to measure and too elusive to copy. All great leaders have charisma because all great leaders have clarity of WHY; an undying belief in a purpose or cause bigger than themselves. It’s not Bill Gates’ passion that inspires us, it’s his undying optimism that even the most complicated problems can be solved.”
– Simon Sinek, Start with Why
“We have, I think, a very rigid and limited definition of what an advantage is. We think of things as helpful that actually aren’t and think of other things as unhelpful that in reality leave us stronger and wiser…What the Israelites saw from high on the ridge, was an intimidating giant. In reality, the very thing that gave [Goliath] his size was also the source of his greatest weakness. There is an important lesson in that for battles of all kinds of giants. The powerful and strong are not always what they seem.”
– Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath
“No one has more skin in the game than you do. If your offering fails, the marketing firm employee handling your account will go on to the next project. The company distributing your product will fill that product slot with something else. The speaker’s bureau will find another person to talk on the same topic you did. It is not that they don’t care; it’s just that their bets are spread across a portfolio of projects. Not so with you. Your fortunes rise or fall on the success of your current project. If it succeeds, you reap the lion’s share of the rewards. If it fails, you suffer the consequences. It’s your career on the line…This is why you must take matters into your own hands. Take responsibility for your own success and invite others to join you in the endeavor.”
– Michael Hyatt, Platform
“Consumers are not loyal to cheap commodities. They crave the unique, the remarkable, and the human. Sure, you can always succeed for a while with the cheapest, but you earn your place in the market with humanity and leadership…Those are the only two choices. Win by being more ordinary, more standard, and cheaper. Or win by being faster, more remarkable, and more human.”
– Seth Godin, Linchpin
“I only accept and pay attention to feedback from people who are also in the arena. If you’re occasionally getting your butt kicked as you respond, and if you’re also figuring out how to stay open to feedback without getting pummeled by insults, I’m more likely to pay attention to your thoughts about my work. If, on the other hand, you’re not helping, contributing, or wrestling with your own gremlins, I’m not at all interested in your commentary.”
– Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
“Effective workers do two things: they strive to do excellent work, and they spend their time on the most important things…Say no to the unimportant, and say no to the inclination to do less than your best. If you are doing your best work on the most important things, you will reach your goals.”
– Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, Boundaries
“We often try to make it complicated. We say things like, ‘I don’t even know where to start’ or, ‘I’m afraid to do it the wrong way,’ when it comes to hard work and putting in effort. But our desire to complicate it is all too often just a cover for laziness or fear. Hustle is not hard. If you write your blog every day, at the end of the year you will have more readers than when you started. If you get up early and work on your dream two hours more than somebody else, your dream will progress faster.”
– Jon Acuff, Quitter
“Our two greatest gifts are time and the freedom to choose—the power to direct our efforts in the use of that time. The key is not in ‘spending’ time, but in ‘investing’ it—in people, in empowerment, in meaningful projects and causes. Like any capital resource, if we spend time, it’s gone. We dwindle away our inheritance. If we invest it, we increase our inheritance, and it will redound to the blessing of generations that follow.”
– Steven R. Covey, First Things First
Developing your own business can be worth all the challenges you’ll face, which is why I want to come alongside and help you if you are in the arena, fighting. After all, I’ve been there, and I know where you stand. That’s why this Thursday, April 21, at 2:00 pm EDT, I’m offering a free live call to help entrepreneurs get a leg up on their business. I want to offer some principles that can help you expand your imagination for what’s possible—because, as Mark Twain said, “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
To join the call, you need to preregister here before the slots fill up. In the meantime, let me leave you with one more quote to take with you, from an old king who knew a little bit about, well, everything: “Take good counsel and accept correction—that’s the way to live wisely and well.”
I may not be as wise as King Solomon, but those are words to live by. But don’t let me have the last word—what are some of your favorite quotes on the subject of being an entrepreneur?