You want to find a mantra for life. A motto for your company. You need quotes that come from the minds of some of the most impactful people in business.
Whether you’re starting, leading, or taking tentative steps to grow and evolve, these are the quotes to keep for your times of need.
Take heart in the knowledge that business isn’t flawless, and the journey to success is often long and winding.
Sometimes you just need a little reassurance. Have a read through some of the best business quotes from inspirational leaders.
Quotes about starting a business
1. “Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”Madam C.J. Walker, first female self-made millionaire
Kickstart your project with this call to action.
Madam C.J. Walker knows a thing or two about making things happen. She’s recorded as the first female self-made millionaire after founding her business in 1905.
If you know you have something to give to the world – even if you just think that you do – get to work. Chances are that nobody else is going to hand you exactly what you want.
2. “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.”Dhirubhai Ambani, entrepreneur
If you know that you have what it takes to launch a successful business, helping somebody else launch theirs is an incredibly generous move.
But it isn’t going to help you realise your own ambitions. This is one of those great business quotes that makes you question your priorities.
3. “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
This quote comes from a wider campaign to encourage young female graduates to push as hard as their peers to get to the top.
It’s a great message for anyone who is second-guessing whether they have what it takes to succeed. If fear didn’t even factor in your decisions, how much further could you get?
4. “You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple Inc.
Any list of business quotes isn’t complete without a contribution from Steve Jobs.
Passion is a driving factor you’ll hear about again and again. Success is often equated to money, but people get the most out of their business when they are focused on just their ideas.
Steve Jobs is one of the greatest innovators of the last century. Imagine what the world would be missing out on if he didn’t put passion into his work.
5. “Dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.”Shonda Rhimes, producer
Echoing the sentiments of other business titans, Shonda Rhimes understands the importance of turning dreams into realities, and eventually success.
Business entrepreneurs could do worse than believe in inspiring quotes about dreams. We all have them, it’s just up to the individual to make them something tangible.
6. “Do what you love and success will follow. Passion is the fuel behind a successful career.”Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi
Pretty much any one of your heroes in business will tell you to do what you love.
How can you truly thrive if you aren’t enjoying the task at hand?
Don’t be one of those workers who watches the clock. If you have passion for what you’re doing, it will be reflected in the work itself.
7. “Don’t worry about failure. You only have to be right once.”Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox
If you’re looking for small business quotes, take this snippet of advice from Dropbox’s co-founder.
You’ll notice that entrepreneurs behind successful businesses don’t put too much weight behind failure in their advice. Why? Well, it happens to everyone, so there’s no use in dwelling on it.
8. “I got lucky because I never gave up the search. Are you quitting too soon? Or are you willing to pursue luck with a vengeance too?”Jill Konrath, sales strategist
Jill Konrath spent a whole summer searching for four-leaf clovers, and found several. She pinned them all to her refrigerator.
But her success wasn’t down to the clovers being lucky charms. It was down to her efforts, and her diligence.
If she had put in half the effort, she would have yielded half the results. Most of the time, that thing that looks like luck is purely success.
9. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”Walt Disney, co-founder of The Walt Disney Company
One of those motivational quotes that’s straight to the point. Walt Disney is a household name because he got on with what he needed to do. Take notes.
Apply this to everyday tasks and meaty projects, as well as to the task of starting a business. Think like Walt Disney and just go for it.
Quotes for running and leading a business
10. “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group
This is one of those business quotes you should have at hand at all times.
Richard Branson has always been passionate about motivating his team, so that they, in turn, motivate the customers.
Be generous: give your employees the tools they need to succeed. If you create an enjoyable working environment, you won’t be losing anything by investing in your people.
11. “We entrepreneurs are loners, vagabonds, troublemakers. Success is simply a matter of finding and surrounding ourselves with those open-minded and clever souls who can take our insanity and put it to good use.”Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop
You can’t do everything yourself. And if you try, you risk burnout.
Successful entrepreneurs are those who are able to identify their weaknesses, and address that by hiring specialists.
Numbers aren’t your thing? Hire a finance buff. No good with drawing your logo? Invest in a designer early on.
Do what’s right for your business now and you’ll be taking care of its future.
12. “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company
This is a great reminder to not let things slip.
You’ll want to focus on surprising and delighting your customers. Having a top-rate product is what your business is built for, and what will motivate you to succeed.
But take pride in those smaller, inconsequential things, too. Strive for quality in all aspects of your business – not just the noticeable moments – and it’ll say everything about your values.
13. “Don’t ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t.”Michelle Obama, lawyer and former first lady of the United States
Fear and business: two things which shouldn’t mix.
You can’t always control what happens, but what you can control is your response.
When things go wrong, or when life throws you a curveball, take some time to step back and review what it is you really want.
As a leader, your decisions shouldn’t be made in haste. There’s no harm in working things out – it’s often for the best.
14. “It’s important that leaders are consistent. You can change your mind, but change your mind against a consistent framework.”Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo.
People are looking to you to guide them.
Your overall objective should always remain in clear sight. Write it down, paint it on a wall, or repeat it to yourself every morning. Whatever works.
Create a blueprint for your success by working to a set of principles. Make sure that while your business evolves, you are a source of consistency.
15. “Dedicate yourself to a core set of values. Without them, you will never be able to find personal fulfillment, and you will never be able to lead effectively.”Kenneth Chenault, former CEO of American Express
Sensing a theme?
Consistency is key when you are a business leader. When you are setting out for success, note down the values you find most important.
These can be both personal and professional. Think about how you would want to be led, and pass that forward to your team.
16. “You have to believe in yourself when no one else does – that makes you a winner right there.”Venus Williams, tennis player
Don’t lose momentum once your business is up and running.
Keep the faith when it comes to your objectives. You had enough hunger to start something, so why stop when the going gets tough?
Like every successful person, you should remind yourself that even if nobody else seems to understand what you’re trying to achieve, you do.
17. “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”Eleanor Roosevelt, diplomat, activist and former first lady of the United States
Sometimes you’ve got to be strict with yourself. Sure, sometimes you’ve got to be strict with others.
But you’re going to get the absolute best out of others if you treat them with fairness and trust.
You’ve hired them for a reason. If you want to succeed, you need the people around you to help make it happen. So be fair, always.
18. “Too many companies believe people are interchangeable. Truly gifted people never are. They have unique talents. Such people cannot be forced into roles they are not suited for, nor should they be. Effective leaders allow great people to do the work they were born to do.”Warren G. Bennis, scholar
You won’t be losing anything by surrounding yourself with talented people.
You’re talented. It’s why you decided to strike out on your own. So why waste time by finding and not nurturing the talent you need for your business?
Quotes for growing and evolving a business
19. “Take risks. Failure is a stepping stone to success.”Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post
Overcoming failure is a success in itself.
As you take your business to the next level, you’ll need to take risks to make gains. And you can’t do it perfectly every time.
Accept that failures are part of your journey, and keep your head up.
20. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company
Remember what you would do if you weren’t afraid.
You’re on track for success. Don’t get complacent once your business is up and running.
It usually pays to change what it is you’re doing every now and then. That doesn’t mean your business needs to start from scratch.
Work hard like Henry Ford and stay open to adapting and evolving. It could take your business to the next level.
21. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”Bill Gates, co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation
Painful, but true.
You should strive for the five-star reviews. You know you’re doing something excellent; whatever you planned for is working.
But there isn’t much else you can learn from glowing feedback.
Take notice of the negatives, like Bill Gates has done. You have an opportunity to see your product from a completely fresh point of view, and you have been given the tools to improve it.
Don’t underestimate the power of customer feedback. Without them, your success would still be a dream.
22. “If you want to grow you have to do something different from the majority of people.”Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of ArcelorMittal
Emulating the format of other successful businesses will only get you so far.
Success is all about originality, and in business it’s about providing people with something that they need.
Take that risk of carving out your own path. It will help you grow alongside your business.
23. “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”John D. Rockefeller
This wisdom could be applied to starting as well as running and leading a business.
If you are pursuing success, try not to get too comfortable with where you are at that moment. John D. Rockefeller didn’t get to be the wealthiest American of all time by sitting around.
You might have great sales, a talented team, and the perfect image. Could there be more?
Find that out. Remind yourself that lessons come from failure. If you strike out in the search of excellence, you’re only going to learn more and achieve more.
24. “The road to success is always under construction.”Lily Tomlin, actress and comedian
If the road to success was smooth and clear, everyone would be able to sit back and relax. And then, well… nobody would have dreams anymore.
Nothing that’s worth doing is ever easy, usually. As you hit that first bump in the road, you’ll learn how to avoid the next.
Don’t lose heart as your business grows and evolves.
25. “If you push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking risk, really amazing things can happen.”Marissa Mayer, businesswoman and investor
Notice the level of success of people who are on the other side of risk.
Stepping into the unknown is inevitably going to be scary if you have a business that you value. You’re walking into a looming gray cloud of uncertainty.
But think about how many opportunities can come from taking your business through to that next level. The sky will be clear and you can grow exponentially.
26. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”Maya Angelou, author
Sometimes, what you need out of these inspirational quotes is a reality check.
Are you closing yourself off to progress? It can be easy to change your mind, or your product, or even your team.
It’s tough to change the way that you think. Try to work hard at shifting your mindset when something doesn’t feel right. Take a step back and ask yourself if what you’re holding onto is best for your business.
27. “In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
It’s almost always impossible to tell the future.
You’ll always have the past, however. Be conscious of what has happened before you have reached the point you’re at now.
This is your greatest opportunity for learning. Pay attention to what you have discovered along the way, and it’ll pave the path to what’s ahead.
Words to live by
28. “Longevity is a fleeting moment that lasts forever.”Vidal Sassoon, world-famous hairdresser
You could achieve one great, meaningful thing.
You might put years of hard work into it. It could come to you by chance. As long as you have the tools to make it last, you will be creating your legacy in that fleeting moment.
Vidal Sassoon rose up from extreme poverty to become one of the most famous hairdressers in the world.
His signature style – an angular bob cut – was a trend in the 60s that left its mark forever. Sassoon believed in sharing knowledge with his team, and they carried that forward to the present day.
29. “When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.”Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, producer, and philanthropist
Always have faith in your ideas. If you want to achieve something that is a force for good, there is no reason why you can’t do that.
There’s no point in waiting for someone else to find you, and ask you if you want to take your genius, secret vision and make it into something.
Oprah Winfrey was the trailblazer in sharing real-life stories of everyday people with the world.
She still uses her platform to help others overcome adversity. Growing up in poverty and paving her own path, Winfrey knows that everyone should be aware of their own greatness.
30. “Days are expensive. When you spend a day you have one less day to spend. So make sure you spend each one wisely.”Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and motivational speaker
It’s a well-known figure of speech, but if you consider days as currency, you might just use them more wisely. It’s a gentler way of saying that time is money.
Jim Rohn was a motivational speaker who used his platform to share his own philosophy on excellence.
His lessons for life helped entrepreneurs find clarity within their social as well as their business circles. Take this advice and work out how best to spend your days.
Remember that life isn’t all about work. As Jim Rohn indicates, you will achieve more in the boardroom if you’ve had a proper weekend and a good night’s sleep.
31. “In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.”Aliko Dangote, founder of Dangote Group
This is one of those business quotes that’s almost prophetic.
Being an entrepreneur is a journey, and it is one worth taking. Set your sights high, focus on them, but take your time in climbing up to reach them.
Aliko Dangote is the wealthiest person in Africa. As he makes this statement, he advises that his success most certainly did not come overnight: it took him 30 years.
Don’t rush. There is no harm in dreaming big – you could be the richest person on a continent, too. But you’ll appreciate the journey when you get there.
32. “Remain a lifelong student. Don’t lose that curiosity.”Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo.
Even the most seasoned business pros are learning every day. Stay open to it, and it could help evolve your mindset for the better.
Indra Nooyi is one of the most successful women in the world. The former CEO of PepsiCo., she grew up in India dreaming about what she could achieve in life.
Sharing her blueprint for success, Nooyi urged others to keep curiosity as one of their five guiding principles.
33. “I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.”Estée Lauder, co-founder of Estée Lauder Companies
This one-liner pretty much encapsulates the quotes that all successful entrepreneurs like to share.
True, you can have your dreams. But you need to put them into actions if you want to see success. Hard work with clear objectives will get you there faster.
Estee Lauder found the key to her success early on, while working at her uncle’s laboratory. She was fascinated by the products he concocted, and set about making her own and selling them on.
For Lauder, success was about learning and sharing. Her friends bought the first samples of her face creams, and as word spread, her customer network grew.
34. “It always seems impossible, until it is done.”Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa
This is a quote to turn into a poster and hang above your desk, or maybe employ as a company motto to inspire your burgeoning team.
Use this wisdom to get you started in business, or propel you forward when you hit a tough project further down the line.
Nelson Mandela stood for his beliefs even when they landed him in prison. Despite not everyone agreeing with all of his actions or ideas, he was doggedly determined to achieve an end to apartheid.
The impact Mandela made is everlasting, so take his sentiment and run with it.
35. “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”Zig Ziglar, author and motivational speaker
A catchy mantra that will see you succeed if you listen to its meaning.
If you wait to know everything, you’re never going to get anywhere. Successful people are not born total experts, and they’re rarely total experts when they start their businesses, either.
Be sure to surround yourself with talented people who can do the things you can’t. You’ll learn from them and your business will thrive because of them.
Zig Ziglar is one of the most well-known motivational speakers of all time. He started out in sales before turning motivation into his calling card.
Look up some more of his powerful, sometimes funny business quotes to perk yourself up.
36. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”Thomas Edison, inventor
Say this to yourself when work is taking the strain.
Failure is often said to be the key to success, but try reframing it as “ways that won’t work.” This could do wonders for your productivity.
It’s a much lighter way of looking at things. Rather than telling yourself you’ve failed, you’re looking at your attempts as an experiment. It’s almost inevitable that some ways won’t work.
Thomas Edison is frequently described as America’s greatest inventor. Having innovated some of the most important products in the world today, he didn’t see success without faltering along the way.
Keep reviewing, changing, and evolving what you do. Don’t let failure stop you in your tracks. Everyone gets their lightbulb moment.