Finally, women entrepreneurship is becoming the norm and not the exception: According to Guidant Financial’s survey of women entrepreneurship in 2019, four of every 10 American businesses are women-owned. Geri Stengel, an American Express Research advisor, also says that “women-owned businesses are growing much faster than all businesses. From 2007 to 2018, women-owned businesses grew by 58% in terms of the number of firms and 46% in terms of revenue.”
Despite those encouraging numbers, however, starting a business and keeping it afloat may prove to be the most difficult thing you’ll ever do. And often, those challenges are compounded when you’re a woman in what is still, at the heart of it, a man’s world.
What’s most important, then, is learning to get back up on the horse if (or, more realistically, when) it bucks you off—and that’s what we hope these 20 quotes will help you do.
So whether you’re just beginning to contemplate a business idea, your venture is growing faster than you can manage on your own (time to hire some employees!), or you’re locking down a business loan or seeking investors, you’ll find some motivation, inspiration, and solace from the women entrepreneur quotes on this list. Remember, they’ve been exactly where you are now—and made millions, if not billions, by staying the course.
20 Women Entrepreneur Quotes to Get (And Keep) Yourself Motivated
1. Stop thinking and start doing.
“You only regret the things you don’t do.”
—Diane von Furstenberg, founder and chairman of Diane von Furstenberg
2. …and once you get going, expect a few roadblocks.
“Everything I’ve achieved has come from perseverance. I’ve never met another entrepreneur who had a painless path to success—everyone who tries to bring new ideas to the world is tested.”
—Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code
3. A good idea is more valuable than industry experience.
“I’d never worked in fashion or retail. I just needed an undergarment that didn’t exist.”
—Sara Blakely, founder and CEO of Spanx
4. Worry about the right things.
“I often hear three common worries from entrepreneurs: ‘Someone is going to steal my idea,’ ‘I need to raise venture,’ ‘The media won’t pay attention to me.’ Those aren’t the right things to worry about. Instead, ask yourself, Am I working on a big, meaningful problem? Obsess over how you’re going to do all the things needed to build a product that solves that problem and how you are going to create a company that attracts and retains the best people. If you get those two right, the other things follow.”
—Michelle Zatlyn, co-founder and COO of Cloudflare
5. Ask for what you want…
“If you’re frustrated because you’re not getting what you want, stop for a second: Have you actually flat-out asked for it? If you haven’t, stop complaining. You can’t expect the world to read your mind. You have to put it out there, and sometimes putting it out there is as simple as just saying, ‘Hey, can I have that?'”
—Sophia Amoruso, co-founder and CEO of Girlboss Media; founder of Nasty Gal
6. …and brush off rejection.
“I’m not afraid of being told ‘no.’”
—Emily Weiss, founder and CEO of Glossier
7. Focus less on “marketing” and more on connecting.
“To be successful, we need to meet our people on the platforms where they hang out on a daily basis. For our demographic, that means Instagram, their inboxes, Twitter, and Snapchat. We are consistently thinking about how to tell a story that is unique to that platform, not just copy and pasting content. We’ve focused less on driving traffic to the website, and more on deepening our relationships with our users on existing platforms.”
—Morgan DeBaun, founder and CEO of Blavity
8. Solve problems by shifting your perspective.
“Any time I’m in a rut or needing new perspectives…I ask myself, ‘What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?’ A lot of times as we think about creating solutions, we think about, ‘What do we have right now and how can we make it better?’ I think a better question is just wiping the slate clean and saying, In an ideal world, if we could rewrite everything, what would we do? We also do an exercise here where we ask, ‘How would Southwest Airlines do this or how would Starbucks do this,’ thinking about other companies with totally different business models and how they might approach challenges.”
—Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix
9. Prove that your product works before you seek investors.
“I would advise that young entrepreneurs spend the first six months to a year building a great product or service and then proving to themselves that their idea is good and that they can execute it…There are only two things you need to prove to investors as a first-time entrepreneur: One is proof that your idea is a good one and that it can work, and the second is that you are the right person to execute and scale it. Bootstrapping our company turned out to be one of the best things that happened to us. When [we] decided to bring on investors, we didn’t just have an idea of what we were going to do, we had a proven concept with an engaged community, and knew how to execute.”
—Adi Tatarko, co-founder and CEO of Houzz
10. Speak as loud as (or louder than) the men in the room.
“One of my favorite quotes of all time is when Susan Lyne said, ‘Men pitch unicorns and women pitch businesses.’ That resonates with me, because during our earlier funding rounds I received feedback that I can come across as modest in comparison to how fast Zola is growing. It has taken me awhile to get comfortable with the metaphorical banging my fists on the table about how we’re building a multibillion-dollar company, but we are. Fortunately, now I can bang a little less loudly because our numbers tell the story.”
—Shan-Lyn Ma, co-founder and CEO of Zola
11. Say what you need to say…
“If you can’t put your name to something, you probably shouldn’t be saying it. Be brave and take accountability for your thoughts and beliefs.”
—Jennifer Hyman, co-founder and CEO of Rent the Runway
12. …but be nice about it.
“Always be kind. Along the way, some people liked me; some people didn’t. As long as I’m in check with my ‘why’ and my purpose, and I know that I have a good intention and I’m being kind, I’ve got to let go of all that other worry.”
13. Reframe your failures as opportunities.
“Treat every crisis as an opportunity. Starting a company comes with a lot of opportunities to learn, and most of the growth happens during and after a crisis.”
—Tyler Haney, founder and CEO of Outdoor Voices
14. Learn from your employees.
“Hire people who are smarter than you.”
—Katie Rose Kitchens, co-founder and editor-in-chief of FabFitFun
15. Don’t lose sight of your bottom line…
“My best advice is to keep your eye on the prize. I think if you always keep in mind the bigger thing you are working towards, it’s a good gauge to make sure that everything you’re doing is a step towards that goal. An inch toward the bigger goal can actually be a massive step forward. Whether your bigger goal is to IPO your company, or you’re really focused on building a team, make sure everything you’re doing every day is in some way a step towards that. When those opportunities come up, take a step back and ask yourself if it is actually contributing to the brand you’re building.”
—Jen Rubio, co-founder, president and CBO of Away
16. …but keep it all in perspective.
“Being aware of the world around me [helps me prevent burnout]. I’m passionate about Away and all the things we’re doing here, but having perspective and talking to friends about things that aren’t work is so important. It’s easy to burn yourself out if you’re in a bubble of what you’re doing, and you’re not aware of the world around you. I used to think things were life and death, but I realized, we’re selling suitcases. We’re good at it and we love it but getting perspective is really important.”
17. Burning out? Let your passion refuel you.
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”
—Oprah Winfrey, chairwoman and CEO of Harpo Productions; chairwoman, CEO, and CCO of OWN
18. Be humble.
“The ability to step back and really hear and examine is rare. [But] you have to be willing to put your ego aside. Being right is less important than being successful.”
—Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, co-founders of SoulCycle
19. Trust your gut.
“If you ask 10 smart people for advice, you’ll get seven different answers. At the end of the day, you’re in charge of your career, your life, and all the decisions that come with them. There is rarely one right answer. Trust yourself, make a decision, and adjust if needed, but keep going. Don’t dwell.”
20. And, finally: Support other women (or else).
“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
—Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook; founder of Leanin.org
Women Entrepreneur Quotes: The Takeaway
While all the women on this list founded very different businesses, we could boil their similarities down to this: They all became majorly successful, and they did so by remaining singularly focused on their goal while being able to put things in perspective. So we hope their words, advice, and support gives you the boost you need. Now get back to work!