Words of encouragement, especially when uttered by the most successful entrepreneurs, have an immense power to put our journey into perspective. They help remind us that every successful entrepreneur faces hurdles, and that it’s their ability to overcome those hurdles that makes them successful. No matter what inspires you to become an entrepreneur, the fact is, you need inspiration. 

Whether you’re looking for insight, advice, or just an understanding of how successful business owners confront challenges⁠—here are our favorite quotes from the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.

101 inspirational quotes from the world’s greatest entrepreneurs and thought leaders

Entrepreneur quotes on motivation

henry-ford-quote1. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford

2. “The thing that motivates me is a very common form of motivation. And that is, with other folks counting on me, it’s so easy to be motivated.” – Jeff Bezos

3. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

4. “People don’t take opportunities because the timing is bad, the financial side unsecure. Too many people are overanalyzing. Sometimes you just have to go for it.” – Michelle Zatlyn, Co-founder, President, and COO of Cloudflare

5. “Don’t try to have it all. Aim for what matters most and what you’re willing to consistently work for. Don’t judge yourself and don’t judge others. Help other women lift each other up.” – Jessica Herrin, CEO and Founder of Stella & Dot

6. “It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed. You only have to be right once.” – Mark Cuban

7. “Whatever you do, be different—that was the advice my mother gave me, and I can’t think of better advice for an entrepreneur. If you’re different, you will stand out.” – Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop

8. “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker

9. “Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” – Oprah Winfrey

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10. “The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.” – Vince Lombardi, football coach and NFL executive

11. “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.” – Madam C.J. Walker, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and social activist

12. “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford

13. “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar, author, salesman, and motivational speaker

Entrepreneur quotes on success

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

15. “Too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people that they associate with. In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are.” – Richard Branson

16. “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates

17. “In the world of business, the people who are most successful are those who are doing what they love.” – Warren Buffett

18. “I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint—and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.” – Oprah Winfrey

19. “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn

20. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

21. “The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.” – Mark Twain

22. “Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves—their strengths, their values, and how they best perform.” – Peter Drucker, management consultant, educator, and author

23. “When you build technology it’s not just a matter of “what.” In most cases the success ends up determined by “how” you build it—which foundations you used, how simple and scalable it is.” – Tobi Lütke, founder and CEO of Shopify

24. “There’s a silly notion that failure’s not an option at NASA. Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” – Elon Musk

25. “We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” – Arianna Huffington

26. “I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.” – Virginia Rometty, former chairman, president and CEO of IBM

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27. “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” – Vince Lombardi

28. “Failures are life’s way of nudging you and letting you know you are off course. Trying new things and not being afraid to fail along the way are more important than what you learn in school.” – Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx

29. “Success depends on employees. For me, knowing and connecting with my employees is very important.” – Divine Ndhlukula, founder and Managing Director of DDNS Security Operations

30. “Success is empty if you arrive at the finish line alone. The best reward is to get there surrounded by winners.” – Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

31. “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

32. “There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.” – Ray Goforth, Executive Director for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace 

33. “No matter what, expect the unexpected. And whenever possible, be the unexpected.” – Lynda Barry, cartoonist, author, and motivational speaker

34. “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

35. “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” – Estée Lauder

Entrepreneur quotes on business

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36. “Business opportunities are like buses: there’s always another one coming.” – Richard Branson

37. “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” – Jeff Bezos

38. “Management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.” – Peter Drucker

39. “If you broke a lot of rules as a kid, you’d probably make a great entrepreneur.” – Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify

40. “It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.” – Sara Blakely

41. “I definitely see a correlation between how many things a company gets right and how fast a company grows.” – Garrett Camp, co-founder of Uber

42. “As a CEO, I am finding that I have to become a learning CEO. I have to go to school all the time because I am learning new skills that I need to run this company and I am realising that I am not equipped to just coast. I have to constantly renew my skills.” – Indra Nooyi, former CEO of Pepsi

43. “And I’d say one of the great lessons I’ve learned over the past couple of decades, from a management perspective, is that really, when you come down to it, it really is all about people and all about leadership.” – Steve Case, former CEO of AOL

44. “It is not the genius at the top giving directions that makes people great. It is great people that make the guy at the top look like a genius.” – Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker

45. “Whatever you do, don’t play it safe. Don’t do things the way they’ve always been done. Don’t try to fit the system. If you do what’s expected of you, you’ll never accomplish more than others expect.” – Howard Schultz

46. “Making the decision to not follow a system or someone else’s rules has allowed me to really dig into what my own strengths and gifts are without spending time feeling jaded or wasteful.” – Ishita Gupta, founder of Fear.less magazine

47. “In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook

48. “As a leader, it’s a major responsibility on your shoulders to practice the behavior you want others to follow.” – Himanshu Bhatia, founder & CEO of Ricovr Healthcare

49. “Entrepreneurship is the last refuge of the trouble-making individual.” – Natalie Clifford Barney, playwright and novelist

50. “If you wake up deciding what you want to give versus what you’re going to get, you become a more successful person. In other words, if you want to make money, you have to help someone else make money.” – Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings

51. “You are where you are today because you stand on somebody’s shoulders. And wherever you are heading, you cannot get there by yourself. If you stand on the shoulders of others, you have a reciprocal responsibility to live your life so that others may stand on your shoulders. It’s the quid pro quo of life. We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.” – Vernon Jordan, business executive and civil rights activist

52. “All humans are entrepreneurs, not because they should start companies, but because the will to create is encoded in human DNA, and creation is the essence of entrepreneurship.” – Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn

Entrepreneur quotes on passion

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53. “If people haven’t laughed at your dreams, then you aren’t dreaming big enough. Just keep pushing forward.” – Daymond John, founder, President, and CEO of FUBU

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54. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs

55. “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

56. “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” – Coco Chanel

57. “Life-fulfilling work is never about the money⁠—when you feel true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it.” – Eileen Fisher, fashion designer and founder of Eileen Fisher Inc

58. “I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.” – Walt Disney

59. “Importantly, in a great team, you argue about ideas totally independent of ego. In great teams, the success of your idea is independent from your success. Just helping to find the best idea matters.” – Tobi Lütke

60. “Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.” – Mark Cuban

61. “If you have a dream, you can spend a lifetime studying, planning, and getting ready for it. What you should be doing is getting started.” – Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox

62. “A full belly is little worth where the mind is starved.” – Mark Twain

63. “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin

64. “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” – Elon Musk

65. “I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. Since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition.” – Larry Page

66. “It’s stunning to me what kind of an impact even one person can have if they have the right passion, perspective, and are able to align the interest of a great team.” – Steve Case

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67. “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs

68. “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” – Napoleon Hill

69. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” – Simon Sinek

70. “One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you.” – Jeff Bezos

71. “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey

72. “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

73. “If you don’t love what you do, you won’t do it with much conviction or passion.” – Mia Hamm

74. “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

75. “Startups are the truest passion projects.” – Vinay Kanchan

76. “Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.” – Napoleon Hill

Entrepreneur quotes on hustle

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77. “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” – Mae Jemison

78. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

79. “Vision without action is a daydream.” – Karthik Shankar

80. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

81. “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” – Marissa Mayer, co-founder of Sunshine Contact

82. “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

83. “Everything in life has some risk, and what you have to actually learn to do is how to navigate it.” – Reid Hoffman

84. “Don’t pass up something that’s attractive today because you think you will find something better tomorrow.” – Warren Buffett

85. “There’s this joy that comes from sitting down to solve a problem and standing up when it’s done and good. Building a company or managing people is never just done.” – Drew Houston

86. “Today, not starting is far, far worse than being wrong. If you start, you’ve got a shot at evolving and adjusting to turn your wrong into a right. But if you don’t start, you never get a chance.” – Seth Godin, author and entrepreneur

87. “There is no better measure of your values than how you spend your time.” – Scott Belsky, co-founder of Behance

88. “People think innovation is just having a good idea, but a lot of it is just moving quickly and trying a lot of things.” – Mark Zuckerberg

89. “An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements.” – Scott Belsky

90. “My advice for anyone thinking of starting their own business is, above all, don’t wait. If you get an idea in the shower in the morning, try to make it the next day.” – Harley Finkelstein

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

92. “Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide.” – Marva Collins, educator and businesswoman

93. “Aspiring entrepreneurs have to actually do something that they feel strongly passionate about, and in most cases they should seek inspiration from their own experience. … If you had a terrible experience, you should despise the experience to the extent that you are continuously seeking a solution for it.” – Best Ayiorwoth, founder of Girls Power Micro-Lending Organisation

94. “So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.” – Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr

95. “It’s time for you to move, realizing that the thing you are seeking is also seeking you.” – Iyanla Vanzant, inspirational speaker

96. “Life is short, and it’s up to you to make it sweet.” – Sadie Delany, educator and civil rights pioneer

97. “You are on the eve of a complete victory. You can’t go wrong. The world is behind you.” – Josephine Baker, entertainer and civil rights activist

98. “Be passionate and move forward with gusto every single hour of every single day, until you reach your goal.” – Ava DuVernay, filmmaker

99. “You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering, and often earns you new respect.” – Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance

100. “If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning.” – Larry Page, CEO of Google

101. “Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It’s the mastery of fear. It’s about getting up one more time than we fall down.” – Arianna Huffington

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Keeping motivated in the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship

No matter what type of entrepreneur you are, you’re bound to face challenges on your way to growing a successful business. Struggle is not indicative of failure or success. Every successful business owner struggles, but it’s how we manage these struggles that defines our success. 

Self-sabotage is the biggest threat in times of hardship. That’s what makes motivational quotes so important for new entrepreneurs. It’s true that quotes are just words, but so are the thoughts of self-doubt that can entangle us when facing challenges. 

Gently reminding ourselves of the struggles faced by entrepreneurs that have come before us can re-spark our passion and inspire us to take the risks needed to grow.

Posted by Contributor