33 Small Business Quotes for Inspiration

Inspirational small business quotes

Being a small business owner is tough. You’re juggling multiple tasks, approaching numerous deadlines, dealing with employees quitting, and handling canceled orders. Then, there are the high moments of success that keep you going.

Sometimes, small business owners need an extra dose of encouragement to continue on. Read these 33 small business quotes to kindle inspiration and insight about motivation, leadership, customers, employees, failure, and success.

5 small business quotes about motivation

There are times when your energy is drained and you don’t want to work on building your business. Unfortunately, there are no days off in entrepreneurship. You must go on. Find a spark of motivation by reading these five small business motivational quotes.

1. “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” —Mark Twain, author

2. “Just go for it. Don’t be afraid. You’re always going to wonder, ‘What if?’” —Sarah Lawrence, owner of Black Sheep Boutique

3. “The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.” —Debbie Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies

4. “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” —Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

5. “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” —Eleanor Roosevelt, former U.S. First Lady

6 small business inspirational quotes about leadership

As a small business owner, you are the leader of your business. You can’t evade that responsibility, but you can learn to be a good leader. Find out what it takes to be a great leader by reading these six quotes.

1. “I would rather earn 1% off 100 people’s efforts than 100% off my own efforts.” —John D. Rockefeller, oil industry businessman

2. “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” —Ronald Reagan, former U.S. president

3. “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” —Douglas MacArthur, U.S. general

4. “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” —Rosalynn Carter, former U.S. first lady

5. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.” —Eleanor Roosevelt, former U.S. first lady

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you'll be criticized anyway.” Eleanor Roosevelt

6. “You manage things; you lead people.” —Grace Murray Hopper, computer scientist and U.S. Navy Rear Admiral

6 small business quotes about customers

Happy customers help make a successful business. Read these six quotes to discover what you can learn from customers and how to keep them coming back.

1. “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, author, salesman, and speaker

2. “Repetition makes reputation and reputation makes customers.” —Elizabeth Arden, founder of Elizabeth Arden, Inc.

3. “Know your communities well! Ask your customers questions and get feedback, get to know them and their needs, chat with other small businesses, work together, and above all: support each other!” —Andrew Young, chef and owner of Bubble and Brown Bakery

4. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” —Bill Gates, founder and CEO of Microsoft

5. “The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.” —John Russell, former vice president of Harley-Davidson

6. “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.” —Herbert Swope, journalist

5 small business quotes about employees

If you have employees, you know how important they are. They keep your business running while you handle other business tasks. Read these five quotes about employees to find out how you can help your business prosper through your staff.

1. “The secret to successful hiring is this: look for the people who want to change the world.” —Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

2. “The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” —Sybil F. Stershic, speaker and author

3. “The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” —Tom Peters, author
“You manage things; you lead people.” Grace Murray Hopper4. “It’s better to grow your employees, steer them into a place that they can learn and succeed, and want to work hard and be loyal, than to have a revolving door of employees. That’s demoralizing.” —Glen Mazzara, television producer and writer

5. “Your number one customers are your people. Look after employees first and then customers last.” —Ian Hutchinson, author

6 small business quotes about failure

While failure is never what you want in business, you can learn a lot from it. Find out what makes entrepreneurs stand out despite failure and how you can learn from downfalls.

1. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” —Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc.

2. “No matter how fast you push to open and how hard you try to stay on budget, little things pop up constantly. But, we’ve learned to deal with them with laughter and a shrug rather than with anger and frustration.” —Cayla Marvil, co-founder of Lamplighter Brewing Co.

3. “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” —J.K. Rowling, author

4. “This might shock you, but you should fail during the course of your business.” —Mike Kappel, founder and CEO of Patriot Software, LLC

5. “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” —Truman Capote, author

6. “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” —Wilma Rudolph, Olympic track and field sprinter

5 inspirational small business quotes about success

Success is what you ultimately strive for in business. But, how do you achieve success? Check out these five entrepreneur quotes for success to learn how you can improve every day.

1. “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” —Robert Collier, author

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Mark Twain

2. “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.” —Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing

3. “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” —Oprah Winfrey, media proprietor, producer, and philanthropist

4. “I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through–then follow through.” —Edward Rickenbacker, World War I fighter ace

5. “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” —Bruce Lee, actor

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