50 Entrepreneur Quotes to Inspire Small Business Owners

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Contributor at Fundera
Rieva Lesonsky is a small business contributor for Fundera and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company. She has spent 30+ years covering, consulting and speaking to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs.
Rieva Lesonsky

Entrepreneur quotes can be a great source of inspiration for those starting their own business. After all, words matter. They have the power to influence us, change our moods, our attitudes, and our lives. Launching a business is not easy, and some days it helps to hear entrepreneur quotes to stay motivated and remember what you’re working so hard for.

As Confucius once said, “The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.” And as Buddha said, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

So in the spirit of putting yourself in the best headspace to help grow your business, here are 50 motivational quotes for entrepreneurs. We hope they’ll give you the boost you need.

The 50 Best Entrepreneur Quotes

These entrepreneur quotes cover a wide range of topics, including simplicity, virtue, time management, failure, and more. Many of these inspirational quotes for entrepreneurs were said by entrepreneurs themselves. However, many more are from politicians, scientists, inventors, and artists. All of which is to say that you don’t need to be an entrepreneur to be a source of inspiration—and as an entrepreneur, your motivation can come from anywhere.

entrepreneur quotes, steve jobs

Entrepreneur Quotes on Simplicity

“Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.”

—Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group

“A company shouldn’t get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn’t last.”

—Jeff Bezos, Amazon

“That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”

—Steve Jobs, Apple

“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”

—Coco Chanel, Chanel

These entrepreneur quotes point out that all too often we overthink and needlessly complicate things. Oftentimes, the simpler solution is the best one. It’s usually easier (and less costly) to start simple, and add complexity later, if you need to.

Entrepreneur Quotes on Virtue

“My goal was never to just create a company. A lot of people misinterpret that, as if I don’t care about revenue or profit or any of those things. But what not being just a company means to me is building something that actually makes a really big change in the world.”

—Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

“There are moments in our lives when we summon the courage to make choices that go against reason, against common sense and the wise counsel of people we trust. But we lean forward nonetheless because, despite all risks and rational argument, we believe that the path we are choosing is the right and best thing to do. We refuse to be bystanders, even if we do not know exactly where our actions will lead.”

—Howard Schultz, Starbucks

“So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.”

—Caterina Fake, Flickr

“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.”

—Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

—Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway

These motivational quotes for entrepreneurs all highlight how we are just one small part of the world we live in—and it is up to each one of us to do our part to make the world better for everyone. When building your business, consider these entrepreneur quotes and how your business can better the lives of others.

entrepreneur quotes, oprah winfrey

Entrepreneur Quotes on Timing

“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, Apple

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”

—Warren G. Tracy’s student

“Timing, perseverance, and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”

—Biz Stone, Twitter

The takeaways from these inspirational quotes for entrepreneurs are that if you have an idea, act on it. Don’t wait around for the “perfect” moment to start your business, because it likely doesn’t exist. And once you take the leap, put in the time to build your business into what you want it to be.

Entrepreneur Quotes on Getting Started

“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity! But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”

—Madame C.J. Walker, Walker Cosmetics

“I became successful due to several reasons. I never gave up and I never let anyone or anything get in my way. I use the power of positive thinking to tackle obstacles and challenges so they don’t defeat me…”

—Lillian Vernon, Lillian Vernon Corporation

“I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.”

—Estee Lauder, Estee Lauder Inc.

“Screw it, let’s just do it.”

—Sir Richard Branson, The Virgin Group

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

—Walt Disney

“If you are the kind of person who is waiting for the ‘right’ thing to happen, you might wait for a long time. It’s like waiting for all the traffic lights to be green for five miles before starting the trip.”

—Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Company

From Madame Walker, America’s first female self-made millionaire, to Sir Richard Branson, who’s still living these words today, the classic advice to “just do it” has been driving American entrepreneurs for decades. These motivational quotes for entrepreneurs come down to making your own opportunities, rather than waiting for someone to hand you something.

entrepreneur quotes, bill gates

Entrepreneur Quotes on Being True to Yourself

“Whatever you do, be different. If you’re different, you will stand out.”

—Anita Roddick, The Body Shop

“Engage your emotions at work. Your instincts and emotions are there to help you.”

—Sir Richard Branson, The Virgin Group

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

—Napoleon Hill, Author

“Success is not what you have, but who you are.”

—Bo Bennet, eBookIt.com

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

—Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

—Steve Jobs, Apple

“All humans are entrepreneurs not because they should start companies but because the will to create is encoded in human DNA.”

—Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn

Conformity is not a common trait among entrepreneurs, and these inspirational quotes for entrepreneurs are all about playing to your own strengths.

Entrepreneur Quotes on Failure

“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”

—Drew Houston, Dropbox

“People always fear change. People feared electricity when it was invented, didn’t they?”

—Bill Gates, Microsoft

“You have to see failure as the beginning and the middle, but never entertain it as an end.”

—Jessica Herrin, Stella & Dot

“Don’t worry about being successful but work toward being significant and the success will naturally follow.”

—Oprah Winfrey

“An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.”

–Roy Ash, Former Director of the Office of Management and Budget

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

—Thomas Edison, Inventor

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

—Winston Churchill, Former British Prime Minister

“If you can’t admit a failure, you’re not an entrepreneur. You are not a good business person. There’s nothing brilliant about what you are doing.”

—Mark Cuban, Businessman

“But as an entrepreneur, you have to feel like you can jump out of an airplane because you’re confident that you’ll catch a bird flying by. It’s an act of stupidity, and most entrepreneurs go splat because the bird doesn’t come by, but a few times it does.”

—Reed Hastings , Netflix

Fear of failure and fear of change are two of the most common barriers keeping people from starting and growing businesses. We’re not saying you need to be fearless—fear is not only a powerful motivator, but it’s a valuable reminder to take calculated—not foolish—risks, and that’s just what these motivational quotes for entrepreneurs underline.

Entrepreneur Quotes on Customers

“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, Apple

“If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”

—Jeff Bezos, Amazon

“What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: Know your product better than anyone, know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed.”

—Dave Thomas, Wendy’s

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

—Bill Gates, Microsoft

“Wonder what your customer really wants? Ask. Don’t tell.”

—Lisa Stone, BlogHer

“You just have to pay attention to what people need and what has not been done.”

—Russell Simmons, Def Jam Records

There’s a tendency these days, especially with how much easier it is to find out what your competitors are up to, to be a reactive business, following the actions of your competition. Instead, as these inspirational quotes for entrepreneurs illustrate, be proactive and focus on the most important component of business success—giving your customers what they need and want.

entrepreneur quotes, mark cuban

Entrepreneur Quotes That Require No Explanation

Life is not fair; get used to it.”

—Bill Gates, Microsoft

“Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.”

—Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

“Dream more than others think practical. Expect more than others think possible. Care more than others think wise.”

—Howard Schultz, Starbucks

“If you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It defines you. Forget about vacations, about going home at 6 p.m.—last thing at night you’ll send emails, first thing in the morning you’ll read emails, and you’ll wake up in the middle of the night. But it’s hugely rewarding as you’re fulfilling something for yourself.”

—Niklas Zennstrom, Skype

“Grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”

—Maya Angelou

“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.”

—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“What’s the worst that could happen? Everyone turned me down. Big deal.”

—J.K. Rowling

“If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.”

—Eldridge Cleaver, Activist

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

—Walt Disney

What to Do with These Entrepreneur Quotes

We hope these motivational quotes for entrepreneurs have left you feeling thoroughly inspired. But inspiration without action is just wasted time. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

Keeping that in mind, go out there and use these inspirational quotes for entrepreneurs to better your business and the world.

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Editorial Note: Fundera exists to help you make better business decisions. That’s why we make sure our editorial integrity isn’t influenced by our own business. The opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations in this article are those of our editorial team alone. They haven’t been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the companies mentioned above. Learn more about our editorial process and how we make money here.
Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Contributor at Fundera
Rieva Lesonsky is a small business contributor for Fundera and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company. She has spent 30+ years covering, consulting and speaking to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs.
Rieva Lesonsky

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