Have you ever noticed that thoughtful quotes have a certain something that, as soon as we read them, they immediately get stuck in our heads and start inspiring us?
It doesn’t matter where we find them; it could be a book, the newspaper, in a conference, or simply because someone shared it with us. Wherever they come from, they have this strange power to motivate us.
As a small serial entrepreneur, of course, I have favorite quotes. I’ve found some of them at crucial points in my career and have stuck with me ever since then. These quotes have done so much for me that I share them whenever I can, on social media, during conferences, and even in the most casual conversations.
Today I have curated a list of 10 thoughtful quotes. I hope they will inspire as they did with me. I tried to present a mix of quotes that will inspire different aspects of entrepreneurship, including those that might not be that pleasant. And, of course, they are from successful people that know what they’re talking about.
10 thoughtful quotes that will inspire you
We all know that to be a successful business owner, we need strategy and an action plan. But a good dose of storytelling (you know, those little stories that inspire us) and thoughtful quotes is a great tool to give us the drive we need.
“Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life” Steve Jobs
It’s no secret that for Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, being fired from his own company was an opportunity to come back stronger (on his return, he became Executive President, and Apple skyrocketed).
I like the strength this quote shows, but also how unapologetically honest it is (the first success of Apple had put a toll on him and was a hindrance to his abilities). Jobs needed a blank slate, a mental reset if you will, and being fired did the trick.
The fact that he is so honest and transparent about failure also says a lot about him.
This quote reminds us to always be strong and honest with ourselves. If we know that something reduces our capacity or is not working for us, we must have the courage to accept it and face it. A failure can be precisely what we need to reach success.
“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try” Beverly Sills
I love quotes with wordplay. This one is from a successful opera singer.
Becoming a singer is already complicated (it’s super difficult to achieve excellence in a world as complex as the music world).
The wordplay here is impressive, brilliant. She gives center stage to the synonyms “doomed” and “fail,” but in reality, she’s giving a whole different message. The real failure is not trying, and trying will help us reach success (but be smart when trying, diving head-on without thinking is not the answer). Beverly was not only a great singer but a successful Director (she saved the New York Opera from bankruptcy).
The quote reminds us that it is vital to fight for our dreams because it’s the only way to reach them.
“The secret to successful hiring is this: look for the people who want to change the world” Marc Benioff
Marc Benioff is the founder and CEO of Salesforce, and he reminds us that if you want to be successful, you have to surround yourself with the best of the best. Why? Because they have an innate motivation for change and improvement.
Only the most capable dreamers can help you in your journey to success. Find them.
Benioff believes that without values, a company has no value (hey look, that works as an inspiring quote too!). Values are good for adding value, and that will be good for business. And people are the ones that will bring those values.
Never underestimate the power that your hiring will have on the success of your company.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” John Quincy Adams
Leading a country and leading a small business are not the same, but they do require the same set of skills. And who would know better than a president, John Quincy Adams?
He knew that leadership is one of the tools you definitely need (if not THE most important one). It doesn’t matter if you have the best employees if you do not know how to inspire them and lead them to success. As a business owner, you should not strive to be a boss; you should strive to be a leader.
“I never dreamed of being successful, I worked for it” Estée Lauder
I’ve never heard of a success story that doesn’t have hard work behind it.
Estée Lauder, the daughter of a Hungarian mother and a Czechoslovakian father, born in 1908 in Queens, knew this well. I mean, who hasn’t heard of the cosmetics company Estée Lauder she founded with her husband in 1946? She worked hard and achieved success.
This quote makes it clear that it is okay to dream… as long as you accompany your dream with a healthy dose of perseverance. Only then, dreams do come true.
“I was lucky because I never gave up the search” Jill Konrath
Another wordplay quote from one of the top sales strategy professionals. I gotta say, I have learned the most from Jill Konrath.
Have you ever heard of a successful professional talk about “luck”? Jill talks about “not giving up”, which obviously has nothing to do with luck, but with hard work. By contrasting these two opposing concepts, she’s delivering a powerful message.
It is important to learn that we are the ones that make our own luck by working hard and having the right attitude.
I recommend you to check out the material that Konrath generously shares on social networks.
“If you’re not a risk-taker, you should get the hell out of business” Ray Kroc
Ray Kroc was not the founder of McDonald’s (those were Richard and Maurice McDonald in 1954). He was responsible for its worldwide success, though, after taking control of the company in 1961 (I recommend you watch the movie “The Founder”).
No one can deny Ray Kroc had a very high tolerance to risk, nor the exceptional reward he received for that tolerance.
We have discussed the daily contact business owners have with risks, so it’s crucial to know how to take them.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” Bill Gates
If continuous improvement (in cost, quality, and service) is one of the focuses of your business, then you should hear what the founder of Microsoft has to say.
The best opportunities for improvement come from dissatisfied customers. Talk to them, you might end up feeling sucky, but those conversations will be pure gold. Remember, there is no one more suited to help you improve your company than an angry customer who has detected a mistake (which you may not be aware of). Then, you can work to correct it as soon as possible and improve your business.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new” Socrates
Socrates is the father of modern philosophy. And you may be wondering what a 2,500-year-old philosopher will know about modern businesses. I’ll tell you: questions.
As a business owner, it’s crucial to always ask the right questions. And in the department of questions, Socrates was king. He might not have left any written works, but he was Plato’s teacher (who, in turn, was Aristotle’s teacher), and I’d say that’s enough curriculum.
It is said that he traveled the city discussing important topics that’d teach people in an unconventional matter: by asking questions.
Philosophy teaches us to ask ourselves the right questions. And most of the time, questions are more important than answers. So never stop wondering and asking yourself new things, this will help you improve.
“Always deliver more than expected” Larry Page
And finally, we close this quote tour with the co-founder of Google.
Few things are more inspiring in a business (for your team, your clients, your investors, your suppliers, and, of course, for yourself) than giving more than what is expected of you.
Exceeding all expectations always has fantastic results. It will be hard, yes, but it will be worth it.
Try to improve every day, it doesn’t matter in what department, but give more than what you should and improve. Don’t give it 100%, but 110%.
Inspiration is everywhere
I hope these quotes inspired you and left you with a renewed sense of purpose. As a business owner, it is imperative to learn new things every day and find ways to improve continually. And what better way to do it than with quotes that’ll inspire you to be better and give you the knowledge you need.
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