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100 Inspirational Business Success Tips from Industry Leaders

Feb 1, 2015 Aaron Agius No Comments

 

No matter how you’re involved in business – whether you’re a CEO, marketing exec or admin pencil-pusher – you’ve probably stared down a few less-than-motivated days.

…Days when you couldn’t imagine making a dent in the work piled up in front of you.

…Days when you could barely feel the motivation that got you involved in your current line of work to begin with.

…Days when the last thing you wanted to do was head to the office and be productive.

Believe me, I understand – I’ve been there too. And I’ve found that one of the best cures for these types of days is to look to the powerful words of wisdom past business leaders have left for us.

To help you out, I’ve compiled 100 of my favorite quotes, separated into categories based on subject. Bookmark this list, then check back and refer to it whenever you need a pick-me-up!

Find Your Passion

If you aren’t working on something you’re passionate about, your work will feel ten times harder than it needs to. All workers – from the bottom rungs of the ladder to the corner office – can benefit from the following tips:

“Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes; the swing in your gait, the grip of your hand. The irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.” – Henry Ford

“Without passion, you don’t have any energy, and without energy, you simply have nothing.” – Donald Trump

“No man can be successful, unless he first loves his work.” – David Sarnoff, CEO, RCA

“Find your passion, and it’s no longer work.” – L.A. Reid, CEO, Epic Records

“Never go for the money. You have to match the job and your values so you can bring your whole self.” – Aylwin Lewis, CEO, Potbelly Sandwich Works

“An important attribute of success is to be yourself.  Never hide what makes you, you.” – Indra K Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo

“When you find an idea that you just can’t stop thinking about, that’s probably a good one to pursue.” – Josh James, CEO, Omniture

Business Planning

Of course, passion alone won’t guarantee success. No matter what stage you’re at, having a plan to help grow your business or career will give you the roadmap you need to succeed.

“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, Founder, Wendy’s

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into smaller manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” – Mark Twain, Author

“Any time is a good time to start a company.” – Ron Conway, Startup Investor, SV Angel

“There’s an entrepreneur right now, scared to death, making excuses, saying, ‘it’s not the right time just yet.’ There’s no such thing as a good time.” – Kevin Plank, CEO, Under Armour

“You don’t need to be a genius or a visionary, or even a college graduate for that matter, to be successful.  You just need framework and a dream.” – Michael Dell, CEO, Dell

“The heart and soul of a company is creativity and innovation.” – Robert Iger, CEO, Walt Disney

“You have to be very nimble and very open minded.  Your success is going to be very dependent on how you adapt.” – Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp

“It’s not about how to get started; it’s about how to get noticed.” – Steve Case, CEO, America Online

“Business, like life, is about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.” – Danny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group

“You can not kill an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo, Author

“If there’s something you want to build, but the tech isn’t there yet, just find the closest possible way to make it happen.” – Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder, Foursquare

Energy and Motivation

All of us experience lags in energy from time to time, but breaking through these low periods is a critical part of business success. Here are seven inspirational quotes from business leaders to help fuel your motivation:

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be a more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” – Warren Buffett

“Be prepared for your luck.” – Ric Campo, CEO, CPT

“Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos

“An entrepreneur is someone who has a vision for something and a want to create.” – David Karp, CEO, Tumblr

“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes playing a poor hand well.” – Jack London, Author

“You shouldn’t focus on why you can’t do something, which is what most people do. You should focus on why perhaps you can, and be one of the exceptions.” – Steve Case, AOL Co-Founder and CEO

“I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” – John D. Rockefeller, CEO, Standard Oil

Innovating & Making Changes

Don’t become stagnant. Innovation is the lifeblood of every successful business and career. Take the following quotes into consideration when you feel you’ve fallen into a rut:

“For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent.” – Tony Robbins

“When you innovate, you must prepare yourself for everybody to tell you that you’re nuts.” – Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle

“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, Flickr

“Where do you put the fear when you choose to innovate? The fear is there, but you have to find a place to put it.” – Seth Godin, Author and Entrepreneur

“Innovation almost always is not successful the first time out. You try something and it doesn’t work and it takes confidence to say we haven’t failed yet… Ultimately you become commercially successful.” – Tony Fadell, Founder, Nest

“The roots of great innovation are never just in the technology itself. They are always in the wider historical context. They require new ways of seeing. As Einstein put it, ‘The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.'” – David Brooks, Columnist, New York Times

Personal Growth

Smart employees and business owners make personal growth a regular pursuit. Whether you choose to improve your skills through reading, practice or some other type of education, the following tips will inspire you to success:

“I always did something that I was a little not ready to do. I think that, that is how you grow. When there’s a moment of ‘Wow, I’m not so sure that I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, it’s then that you have a breakthrough.” – Marissa Mayer

“We are really competing against ourselves, we have no control over how other people perform.” – Pete Cashmore, CEO, Mashable

“I’ve been very lucky, from the beginning.  I’ve found that as long as you’re fundamentally good – as long as you’re not being bad to people – people give you a lot of room to be yourself, because being yourself is being honest. And that’s what people want to see.” – Andrew Mason, CEO, Groupon

“You become the average of the five people you hang out with.” – Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox

“Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself.” – Oprah Winfrey, Media Proprietor

“Pessimists may be right in the end, but an optimist has a much better time getting there.” – Samuel R Allen, CEO Deere

“Mediocrity is not worth the trip.” – Sergio Marchonne, CEO, Chrysler

“The importance of gratitude is never forgotten.” – Deborah Lee, CEO, BET

“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” – Mary Kay Ash, CEO, Mary Kay Cosmetics

Thoughts on Entrepreneurship

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Launching a business isn’t for the faint of heart, as these industry leaders well know. If you feel your courage wavering, look to their words and remember that each and every one of these success stories was once where you stand today.

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki, CEO, Alltop

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” – Steve Jobs, Co-Founder and CEO, Apple

“The best startups generally come from somebody needing to scratch an itch.” – Michael Arrington, Founder, TechCrunch

“No more romanticizing about how cool it is to be an entrepreneur. It’s a struggle to save your company’s life – and your own skin – every day of the week.” – Spencer Fry, Co-Founder, CarbonMade

“All humans are entrepreneurs not because they should start companies but because the will to create is encoded in human DNA.” – Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder, LinkedIn

“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” – Nolan Bushnell, Entrepreneur

“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” – Scott Belsky, Co-Founder, Behance

“If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.” – Ray Kroc, Founder, McDonald’s

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” – Steve Jobs

Leadership & Management

Businesses need both great leaders and great managers to be successful. Read through the following quotes on these important subjects, and if any of them resonate strongly with you, make a note to refer back to them when you’re feeling stressed.

“Great companies, with the way they work, first start with great leaders.” – Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft

“Your title makes you a Manager. Your people make you a leader.” – Bill Campbell, former CEO, Intuit

“Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves – and by which they are willing to be judged.” – Frederick W. Smith, CEO, Fedex

“Management is all about managing in the short term, while developing the plans for the long term.” Jack Welch, CEO, General Electric

“Sometimes, I think my most important job as a CEO is to listen for bad news. If you don’t act on it, your people will eventually stop bringing bad news to your attention and that is the beginning of the end.” – Bill Gates

“If you see a snake, just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on snakes.” – Henry Ross Perot, Politician

“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 First Lady

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch, CEO, General Electric

Practice Productivity

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, yet some people use them to build wildly successful businesses while others flounder. If you want to fall into the former camp, rather than the later, begin by working on your personal productivity.

“I’d rather have one percent of the efforts of 100 people than 100 percent of my own efforts.” – J. Paul Getty

“It’s not about having a specific set time; both personal and professional lives are 24/7. It’s simply, more about making the right allocation to each one and recognizing that it’s going to be different every single day.” – Ellen Kullman, CEO, Dupont

“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.” – David Allen, Author, Getting Things Done

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephan King, Author

“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior” – Henry C. Link

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul Meyer

Fighting Failure

Failure is scary, but if you’re smart, the lessons you learn from your mistakes can provide some of the most powerful opportunities for growth. Just take it from these business leaders:

“Surviving a failure allows you more self-confidence. Failing is a great learning tool, but it must be kept to an absolute minimum.” – Jeffrey Immelt, CEO, General Electric

“Only successful businesses can create and secure jobs.” – Kalus Kleinfeld, CEO, Alcoa

“I’ve learned to question success a lot more than failure.” – Kat Cole, CEO, Cinnabon

“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.” Dr. Ralf Speth, CEO, Jaguar

“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” – Thomas J Watson, CEO, IBM

“You should go to work every day a little bit nervous.” – Alexa von Tobel, CEO, LearnVest

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.” – Richard Branson, CEO, Virgin Group

“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” – Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox

“Fail often so you can succeed sooner.” – Tom Kelley, Partner, Ideo

Marketing & Promotions

Successful businesses don’t grow in vacuums; they need proper marketing and promotion efforts to reach their target audiences. Don’t believe me? Look to the following quotes from fellow entrepreneurs who recognize the value of these activities:

“Content rules. It always has. It just changes form and value.” – Chris Paradysz, Co-CEO Paradysz

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” – Milan Kundera, Author

“I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.” – David Ogilvy, Ad Executive

“For a truly effective social campaign, a brand needs to embrace the first principles of marketing, which involves brand definition and consistent storytelling.” – Simon Mainwaring

“Transforming a brand into a socially responsible leader doesn’t happen overnight by simply writing new marketing and advertising strategies. It takes effort to identify a vision that your customers will find credible and aligned with their values.” – Simon Mainwaring

“The path to the CEO’s office should not be through the CFO’s office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design.” – Elon Musk, Inventor

“Data beats emotions.” – Sean Rad, Founder, Adly and Tinder

Scaling Your Business

The question of how and when to scale a business is one that plagues entrepreneurs at all levels. Not sure what to do next? Heed the advice of the following business leaders:

“In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.” Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

“High expectations are the key to absolutely everything.” – Sam Walton, CEO, Walmart

“Good brands claim authenticity. Great brands know who they are.” – Chance Carlisle, CEO, LYFE Kitchen

“Obsess about the next customer, not only the ones you have.” – Jeremy Gutsche, CEO, Trendhuter.com

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman, CEO, Linkedin

“Even if you don’t have the perfect idea to begin with, you can likely adapt.” – Victoria Ransom, Co-Founder, Wildfire Interactive

“Nothing works better than just improving your product.” – Joel Spolsky, Co-Founder, Stack Overflow

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” – Biz Stone, Co-Founder, Twitter

Hiring Rockstar Employees

Scaling almost always involves bringing on new talent, but proceed with caution. Hiring a mediocre employee is worse than hiring no employees at all, so take your time and consider the following tips to be sure your new hires come with rockstar-level skills:

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

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” – Bill Gates

“Make your team feel respected, empowered and genuinely excited about the company’s mission.” – Tim Westergen, Founder, Pandora

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” – Stephen R. Covey, Author

“If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon

“There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team.” – Jason Fried, Founder, 37signals

Forward Thinking

Finally, I’ll leave you with a few forward-looking quotes to help inspire you for the future. Whether you’re a wanna-be entrepreneur or somebody who’s already deep in the business-building trenches, these words of wisdom will give you plenty to ponder about the future of your company:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” – Steve Jobs

“Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.” – Larry Page

“In the long arc of time, you are only relevant if customers love you.” – Tim Cook, CEO, Apple

“In a hyper-connected world where business and technology models are changing so rapidly, leaders/companies must learn to innovate, prioritize, and execute rapidly to survive.” – John Chambers, CEO, Cisco

“When I’m old and dying, I plan to look back on my life and say ‘wow, that was an adventure,’ not ‘wow, I sure felt safe.’ ” – Tom Preston-Werner, Co-Founder, Github

“The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.” – Rupert Murdoch, CEO, 21st Century Fox

“There’s lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there’s only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what it is: it’s to change the world.” – Phil Libin, CEO, Evernote

“Never forget that only dead fish swim with the current.” – David Sable, CEO, Y&R

Have another inspirational business quote that belongs on this list? Leave a comment below with your favorite quotes or sayings!

Images: Flickr and Flickr

Thanks to Entrepreneur, Life Hack, Business Insider, Forbes, Kabbage and others for the quotes!   

 


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