By Brett Farmiloe
There are always ups and down to running a company. To help you stay positive and motivated—no matter what the workday brings—we asked successful businesspeople to share their favorite quote and why it inspires them. Read on for inspirational words of wisdom that will provide you with the motivation to meet any entrepreneurial challenge.
10 inspirational quotes for entrepreneurs
1. “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”—Alan Kay (Computer scientist)
“My favorite Alan Kay quote really speaks to the fact that we always have agency and are always at choice as a leader, whether we are individual contributors or the CEO of a multinational company. The quote reminds me that it’s not what happens to me so much as how I choose to be in relation to whatever is happening. It’s empowering to know that I have the capacity to invent my future and to live a created life instead of being a passive player.”
—Parissa Behnia, Sixense Strategy
2. “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”—Albert Einstein (Scientist)
“This quote from Albert Einstein is a great way to inspire collaboration in teams and get them to do their best work. All of my employees are bright and talented people with their own individual strengths, but when they share their ideas, they are unstoppable. It’s essential that employees understand that what they offer as a team makes them special, and their collaboration and shared creativity can raise them all.”
—Anthony Martin, Choice Mutual
3. “It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required”—Winston Churchill (British prime minister)
“With the rise of ‘hustle’ culture, it has conditioned us to believe that anything less than maximum grind every day is a failure and success is no longer possible. However, for most of us, this lifestyle is neither healthy nor attainable. This quote is a reminder that sometimes simply showing up is half the battle. Some days we do not feel on top of our game, while others we might fire on all cylinders.
4. “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”—Thomas Jefferson (U.S. president)
“Luck is a contentious subject in the business world. Some say it doesn’t exist, and others firmly believe in it. I maintain that there’s truth in being at the right place at the right time, but in order to get to that place, [you need to] put in hard work.
“This is one of many reasons I love this quote. It’s often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but mysteriously, it does not appear in any of his writings. Regardless of where it originated, the message is clear: by putting in more effort, you’re best placed to leap at the many opportunities that come your way. Is this luck? In a way, it is—but it’s a kind of luck you have to earn.
5. “The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.”—Richard Bach (Writer)
“More often than not, resistance to work has been one of my biggest obstacles and that’s why this quote serves to change my perspective towards tasks of the day. This shift in perspective allows me to accomplish more in a harmonious and motivated state of mind, thus decreasing the chances of burnout and remaining fairly creative throughout the day. Moreover, it helps me look at my work as play and enjoy whatever comes my way.”
—Asma Hafejee, CMR Surgical
6. “An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied.”—Arnold H. Glasgow (Businessman)
“We all come up with multiple interesting ideas during the week, and some of them are simply amazing. What inspires me the most about this quote is that it highlights the importance of taking action in your ideas and making them come true.
7. “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”—Henry David Thoreau (Philosopher, poet, and environmental scientist)
“Although he is not an individual who we generally associate with business, one of my favorite inspirational quotes comes from Henry David Thoreau. Many inspirational quotes are left up to interpretation, and this is the case with Thoreau’s quote, as it has two distinct meanings to me.
“One is obvious in that hard work leads to success. But the more subtle meaning is that if we concentrate on being the best we can be at what we do, and not just being successful, we get that same result. This infers that if we focus on doing right by our customers and team, this is the best route to reach our goals. And controlling my destiny is what Thoreau implies to be the most empowering and inspirational.”
—Haley Wood, The Look
8. “Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction”—Henry S. Truman (U.S. president)
“This is one of my favorite quotes, and there are many things in our business that have worked out tremendously well from taking this advice—I wish I had started earlier. Often, the only obstacle to starting was the thought that I wasn’t ready enough. But if you step back and think a little, you’ll realize that in 90% of situations, you can start right away with what you’ve got.
“We’re lucky enough to work on things that are not life or death; I always tell our team, ‘at least we’re not doing surgery.’ Even if we start prematurely and do it poorly, we reap the benefit of hindsight. And that will teach us how to achieve the outcome we seek.”
—Aidan Kang, House of Debt
9. “Correction does much, but encouragement does more.”—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German writer, scientist, statesman)
“This quote is simple and easy to keep in mind throughout the workday. While correcting errors constructively is an obvious necessity at work, encouraging staff members or recognizing their efforts inspires them to achieve. Encouragement is part of what creates a great company culture. Positive reinforcement is crucial to building staff morale and this simple quote is a great reminder to do just that.”
—Faris Khatib, Ideal Tax
10. “If you’ve created a work culture where vulnerability isn’t ok, you’ve also created a culture where innovation and creativity aren’t ok.”—Brené Brown (Research professor and lecturer)
“This quote gives lessons on how to create a good and supportive workplace culture to get better productivity and performance from employees. This lesson has inspired me a lot, and is why it is my favorite positive quote of the day for work. Remember, if your workplace is full of weaknesses, chances for growth or better productivity are lost. Therefore, creating a supportive workplace culture can be beneficial to you.”
—Jenna Gleespen, The Stock Dork