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51 Small Business Quotes for Every Situation

These small business quotes will not only inspire but will teach you how to grow your business

We look to famous business quotes for inspiration and motivation, but they can also be great tools for learning. Being successful in business is about constant improvement, setting new goals and learning from the process.

I read at least one famous quote a day and spend five minutes thinking about what it really means for my business and my life. Without this introspection and careful thought, you’re not getting everything you could out of the quote.

I’ve tried to include a little about what each of these small business quotes mean to me after each one. I’d love to hear your favorite quotes, what they mean to you and where you’ve found inspiration for your business.

11 Small Business Quotes to Start the Day

Even the most motivated business owner needs that boost sometimes to start their day. I have an email that hits my inbox every day, first thing in the morning. From motivational to tough-love and humorous, these early morning quotes wake me up and get me going.

small business quotes to start the day

Small Business Quotes to Start the Day

Your smile is your logo. Your personality is your business card. How you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark. — Jay Danzie

I’ve always liked this business quote for how it makes me smile. Even if you don’t work with people much in your business, that impression on one person can make all the difference.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin by always expecting good things to happen. –Tom Hopkins

Every business I’ve ever been in, from money management to blogging, I’ve rarely found any secrets. Success in business isn’t about getting a golden ticket or gifts, it’s about hard work and determination. Set your focus on your goals, drive to them and nothing will stop you.

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later. — Og Mandino

Yes! Being a small business owner can be so frustrating at times. You’ll be discouraged and so tempted to just go through the motions. Find something that motivates you, that reinvigorates you to put in 100%!

Action is the foundational key to all success. — Pablo Picasso

This one always gets me off my butt in the morning. Sometimes that first cup of coffee isn’t enough and you need some inspirational words to get started.

Without hustle, talent will only carry you so far.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

I don’t believe an ounce in talent. Thinking about how much talent you have for something will only give those self-defeating voices a chance to say you don’t have what it takes. It’s all hustle, remember that!

I would rather die of passion than of boredom. — Vincent van Gogh

This quote brings out the romantic in me and reminds me of my passion for growing my business. You don’t have to be in love with your work every day but find that one thing that drives you; whether it’s the work itself, success or how you help others.

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
— Judy Garland

Judy was more than just pigtails and ruby slippers, bet you didn’t know that! I think we fixate on other people as role models for business or life. It’s fine to get inspiration and direction from someone else but you have to make your own way.

Work 9-to-5, spend a couple of hours with your family, 7 to 2am is plenty of time to do damage. –Gary Vaynerchuk

Working any job can be stressful let alone if you’re trying to build a side business while working a traditional job. Tom Drake of Maple Money adds, “This business quote inspired me early on to put in a lot of hours to build my online business while still holding down a day job, all while still being there for my two young boys between work and their bedtime. While a lot of bloggers spend an hour a day on their blogs, I was building an online empire!”

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. — Gandhi

Reading Gandhi always reminds me that we, as successful business people, have another purpose. It’s not enough to be successful in business if you haven’t made a difference in another person’s life.

Make each day your masterpiece. — John Wooden

I would go a step further and say, make each project your masterpiece. Before I sit down to work on a project, I think about how I can be unique and excellent in the work. Success in business means going beyond just producing something, it has to stand out against a crowded marketplace.

If you can’t outplay them, outwork them. — Ben Hogan

I love this business quote. I’m no dummy and have some skill in a lot of what I do but I place no faith in that to be successful. Relying on your skill or abilities to turn a half-assed job into a masterpiece is the fastest way to failure. No matter what your skill level, put in the time and effort to make every project great.

11 Inspirational Quotes for New Business Owners

Few things in life are as difficult as starting a business. Besides all the external stressors, you’ll have those self-defeating voices questioning you every step of the way. Keep these inspirational quotes handy to pick you up, kick you in the pants and give you the courage to keep going.

inspirational quotes start a businessThe great thing about being self-employed is that you can work half days if you want, and you can work whichever 12 hours you choose!

This quote is funny but true for most new businesses. A friend of mine, Casey Fleming of the Loan Guide calls himself a ‘slacker’ – “I work probably 60 hours a week. My typical day starts after breakfast. I’m at the computer by 7am or 7:30 at the latest. I take usually no more than 30 minutes for lunch and end my formal day at about 5pm. After dinner and on the weekends, I clean up everything I didn’t get done.”

I’m a big fan of small business ownership. I think it’s the backbone of American innovation. But to be successful, you first have to have the courage to go for it. – Bill Rancic

Ask just about any successful business person the key to their success. You won’t hear anything about gifts or skill or education. Nine-times out of ten, you’ll hear things like perseverance and courage.

The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. — Michelangelo

I like reaching my goals just as much as the next guy but maybe that just means they weren’t set high enough. Goals, whether in business or life, are just arbitrary targets you set for yourself. Whether you reach them or not doesn’t mean you were successful or a failure. The real success is reaching for that goal, letting it drive you to improvement. If you’re constantly reaching every goal, maybe you aren’t setting them high enough.

If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. — Albert Einstein

Didn’t know Einstein could help you in business, did you? I love this quote for goal setting just like the previous one. You have to make big, giant, humongous goals! The business owner that sets out to ‘make a living’ is going to do just that and nothing more.

Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment. — Stephen Covey

Ok, so this one slows down the pace from the previous few business quotes but it’s important to remember what your goals are about. It’s not necessarily reaching your goal but the growth, the improvement you’re making in your business. Working towards your goals is an investment to future goals!

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. – Confucius

Starting a business is an exercise in fits-and-starts. You’ll jump ahead one day and feel like you’re barely making progress the next. Remember, it’s the progress that counts. Keep working, keep pushing and never give up.

Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs. – Farrah Gray

I always thought I was content to be the worker. There’s a simplicity and freedom to resigning yourself to just doing what you’re told. Even in the Marine Corps, I was often content to just do my job.

I never knew how satisfying following my own dreams were until I started my own business. Now I can’t imagine being stuck working for someone else with no control over my destiny.

It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot

This business quote is a wakeup to all the dreamers, the people that sit there fantasizing about what could have been or how their life would be different if they could do something over. There are no do-overs, but you can create your future. Be the person you want to be now so you can look back with no regrets.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. – Henry David Thoreau

This is another business quote about goals and starting your business with big ideas. Don’t worry about how you’re going to be successful when starting your business, spend your time figuring out why your business is going to be so great. Then work on how to get there.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. —Mark Twain

This is one of the most famous business quotes and for good reason. Think consciously every day about how you want your life to work out, how you want to guide your business and your other dreams. Unless you spend the time to create your future, you’ll only think about these things in hindsight and as regrets for what you could have done.

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground. —Theodore Roosevelt

Take the time to read Teddy Roosevelt’s biography. Although we know him as being a face on Mt. Rushmore and his notable accomplishments during his presidency, he suffered from a severe case of asthma in his childhood that he could have easily used to lead an unproductive life instead.

11 Motivational Business Quotes

So much of a successful business is just the motivation and courage to keep at it. There is rarely an easy answer to success or a golden ticket. Ninety-nine times out of 100, success is the person that has worked the hardest to plan and beat their goals.

small business quotes for motivation

Small Business Quotes for Motivation

For every sale you miss because you’re too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you’re not enthusiastic enough. – Zig Ziglar

Is there anyone more motivational than Zig Ziglar? He shows up a lot in this section of business quotes. Never worry about being too excited, too enthusiastic or zealous about your business. I would rather be seen as ‘a little odd’ or overly-excited than not be able to share my energy.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

Just do it! Go Aristotle!

The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty. -Zig Ziglar

Zig again reminds us that success in business isn’t just about your product, it’s about you as a person. You are the brand ambassador to your business, live and display those characteristics you want associated with your business.

If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative. — David Ogilvy

I struggle with this one sometimes. I think a determined business person can ‘sell’ anything. Sure, you need to constantly be improving on you product or service but it’s also about your process as well. I dunno, what do you get out of this business quote?

Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. — Jim Rohn 

How many of you have fantasized about your computer becoming conscious and doing your work for you? What, just me? It’s so easy to sit there and wish for success but it usually doesn’t get you very far. Spend your time fantasizing about how to make your business better, then do it.

By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands — your own. — Mark Victor Hansen

Too many business people try to do everything from their ideas, without actually writing out their plans and formalizing a business plan. Writing out a business plan is the first step to success. It’s great that you have unique ideas for a business, now take the time to develop them into a real plan.

Where focus goes, energy flows. — Tony Robbins

I got nothing for this one…but it rhymes.

There is no royal, flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it. For if I have accomplished anything in life, it is because I have been willing to work hard. — C.J. Walker

Everyone is always looking for the secret to success, that trick that the successful have used for easy fame and fortune. Maybe I just haven’t found it either but as I get older I start to question whether it even exists. I’ll defer to another great business quote, “Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Edison

Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty. — William J. Bennett

This one is an interesting twist on business goals. If you’re stuck on a goal, try creating a new goal that’s more ambitious and planning how to achieve it. You might just find an easier way to smash through your previous goal by working to the higher one.

Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” — Robert Kiyosaki

This is a smart quote, not only in business but for investors. We have a natural avoidance of loss and that can mean sticking with losing ideas just to not admit that it was a failure. Don’t be afraid to admit a loss if it means you can spend more time reaching for the win.

Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan. — Larry Winget

Does this business quote even need a comment? Awesome!

7 Business Quotes for Customer Service

Being successful in your business isn’t just about the face-to-face with your customer. Any time a potential customer interacts with your business, whether it’s visiting your website or hearing about it from a friend, that’s part of customer service. These business quotes will help you guide that customer and create the experience you want to represent your business.

business quotes for customer service

People don’t ask for facts in making up their minds. They would rather have one good, soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts. — Robert Keith Leavit

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was, “People don’t buy the information, they buy the transformation.” Facts and information may sound like a smart way to sell your product but it’s not going to convert someone into a client. Sell them on the transformation and the emotions behind your product or service.

You do not get what you want. You get what you negotiate. –Harvey Mackay

This isn’t just about customer service and how you negotiate with others but how you set and achieve goals yourself. Linsey Knerl of 1099 Mom says, “I like this quote because we often go into situations guns blazing and think we will realistically hit what we aim for. Tempering expectations isn’t just good business, it’s better for the ego. I’m always happy if I can get to half of my goal and both sides come out feeling good about it.”

Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.
— Donald Porter 

Every unhappy customer is an opportunity to improve your business and gain ten more customers. If you can find out why one customer is unhappy, you’ve answered a question for ten potential customers.

Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business. –Zig Ziglar

Reach out to your customers and ask them to share their opinion honestly. Appreciate the happy customers but spend your time with the unhappy ones. That’s where you’ll learn the most.

The best way to sell yourself to others is first to sell the others to yourself. — Napoleon Hill

I need help on this one. What does it mean to you?

Without a customer, you don’t have a business — all you have is a hobby. — Don Peppers

Ha! So true. I know a lot of wannabe business owners that spend all their time planning. In blogging, people like to say to ‘build traffic’ before you worry about making money. Bullshit! Concentrate on getting customers. Until you actually do something that creates a customer, you haven’t really done anything.

Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life. — Mary Kay Ash

I like this quote a lot. It’s easy to see everyone in terms of ‘a customer’ or get lost in our own little bubble. Remember, everyone has their own story, they are the star of their own movie. Take the time to learn about them and you’ll not only gain a customer but a cheerleader for your business.

10 Business Quotes for Failure

I don’t like to think in terms of failure or success for a business. The two words have connotations of finality and nothing is ever final in business or in life. A truly successful business is a million individual failures and successes, every day and every year. It’s that constant hustle for improvement and your mindset to missed goals that is really important.

business quotes for failure

Business Quotes for Failure

A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.
— unknown 

I would go a step further and say that an hour of planning around why you didn’t meet a business goal is worth a week of patting yourself on the back over a success. Remember, there is no success or failure, it’s all about progress and constant improvement.

There are no bad soldiers under a good general. –Napoleon Bonaparte

I love this idea of taking ultimate responsibility for your business. Chris Huntley of Huntley Wealth & Insurance adds, “As I’ve grown my team the last couple of years, I’ve found myself pointing at their performance and motivation. In reality, I am 100% responsible for the success or failure of my business.”

Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats. — Og Mandino

If you’re working every day, constantly focusing on improvement, you won’t have time to dwell on the missed goals. Figure out what kept you from reaching your goals and use that knowledge to reach even higher.

If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will. — Bob Hooey

Maybe this business quote belongs in the section on customer service but not talking to your customers can quickly turn into a failure as well. Don’t wait for feedback from your customers, seek it out and build it into your business planning.

One of the best predictors of ultimate success … isn’t natural talent or even industry expertise, but how you explain your failures and rejections. — Daniel H. Pink

This goes beyond learning from your business failures but to a whole mindset about success and failure. Don’t think of it as failure, there’s no such thing. You may have missed a goal but as long as you improved, you accomplished something.

Entrepreneurs average 3.8 failures before final success. What sets the successful ones apart is their amazing persistence. There are a lot of people out there with good and marketable ideas, but pure entrepreneurial types almost never accept defeat. — Lisa M. Amos

I would rephrase this one to say, “3.8 opportunities to learn what works and what doesn’t…” Plus, I don’t think there is ever a such thing as ‘final success’. Unless you’re dead, there’s always the next goal.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. — Thomas Alva Edison

Preach on Mr. Edison!

It is common sense to take a method and try it, if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. — Theodore Roosevelt

I love planning and believe in a good plan before getting started, but don’t let perfection get in the way of getting started. Sometimes you have to just learn as you go.

Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. — Winston Churchill

I can’t believe I don’t have more Churchill in the list of business quotes. This one is so true. Success isn’t the business that has gotten lucky or was an overnight hit. That business is going to fold the second a competitor comes in. The real measure of success is continuing in the face of adversity.

To build a long-term, successful enterprise, when you don’t close a sale, open a relationship. — Patricia Fripp

This is an interesting quote that many businesses might miss. Those missed customers can also offer a lot of great information and improvement. If you can answer the hesitance and questions of one person that rejected your product, you’ll have gained ten more customers.

What are your favorite business quotes? These famous quotes aren’t just good motivation but can offer some excellent ideas to improve your business. Whether you’re just starting a business or trying to grow one, learning from the best minds can drive you for that constant improvement you need to be successful.

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