61 inspirational quotes to motivate and encourage entrepreneurs

Industry and thought leaders frequently share their thoughts on success and entrepreneurial spirit — check out these 61 quotes for entrepreneurs to spark your own innovation.

by Siege Media, contributor to LegalZoom
updated May 11, 2023 ·  10min read

According to a 2011 Harvard Business Review report, inspiration involves two important aspects: being inspired and acting on it. This sounds like the perfect formula for the 31 million entrepreneurs in the U.S who are in search of both inspiration and a plan of action.

Inspired entrepreneur sitting in a bright office

Whether you've already written your business plan or are just looking to get started, advice from others can help spark inspiration in the human mind. In this post, you'll find 61 curated quotes about different parts of a well-rounded entrepreneurial mindset, like education, perseverance, and success. You can also click the button below to view an infographic that examines the science of why people find inspiration from quotes and provides tips to incorporate more inspiration in your entire life.

Entrepreneur Quotes infographic

Harness education as a passport to the future

Education doesn't start or end in a classroom, just like how a graduation ceremony or diploma doesn't signify the end of learning. Keep the advice of these leaders in mind to ensure that you rule the School of Entrepreneurship.

A quote on education from entrepreneur Jim Rohn

  • "I find it best to dive right in and learn the hard way." Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable
  • “Education doesn't just take place in stuffy classrooms and university buildings, it can happen everywhere, every day to every person." Richard Branson, entrepreneur, astronaut, and founder of Virgin Group
  • "Our future growth relies on competitiveness and innovation, skills and productivity... and these, in turn, rely on the education of our people." Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia
  • “The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson." Tom Bodett, author and radio personality
  • “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it." Marian Wright Edelman, activist, and President of the Children's Defense Fund
  • “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela, former South African president, and activist
  • “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today." Malcolm X, minister, and human rights activist

Succeed in business by relying on creativity

Creativity is fluid; it comes and it goes, and it's important to know where to find it. New talent is emerging from all corners of the world and it's becoming harder to be 100% original. As an entrepreneur, strive to never lose the impulse to be creative. Tap into the creative minds of these people when you are craving a fresh spark of innovation.

A quote on leadership from professor Brene Brown

  • “Being imaginative is having ideas; being creative is converting ideas into production." Amornrat Pratoomma, former director of P-PAC
  • “If you're not doing some things that are crazy, then you're doing the wrong things." Larry Page, businessman, computer scientist, and co-founder of Google
  • "There's lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there's only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what that is: it's to change the world." Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote
  • “If Google teaches you anything, it's that small ideas can be big." Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest
  • “What keeps life fascinating is the constant creativity of the soul". Deepak Chopra, author, and advocate for alternative medicine
  • "You contribute to the world by making meaningful things, not just great things." Cees de Bont, professor, and consumer psychologist
  • “All humans are entrepreneurs not because they should start companies but because the will to create is encoded in human DNA." Reid Hoffman, entrepreneur, co-founder of LinkedIn, and public speaker

Earn your leadership every day

According to Forbes, the five traits that successful leaders have in common are taking action, refusing to be content, holding themselves accountable for their actions, motivating others, and remaining willing to take risks. These leaders prove that these traits are not only essential but are the keys to building a successful business.

A quote on leadership from scholar Warren G. Bennis

  • “One of the greatest skills of leadership is being unflappable. Anytime you do anything in the world; there's going to be criticism." Arianna Huffington, author and co-founder of The Huffington Post
  • "Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand." Colin Powell, diplomat, retired four-star general, and former Secretary of State
  • “You cannot get the full potential of people in your business if people have to hide who they are. And cannot contribute to the organization because they are scared of the impact it will have on their career progression." Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Airlines
  • "Earn your leadership every day." Michael Jordan, former professional basketball player and businessman

Motivate yourself to overcome obstacles

Every entrepreneur has a unique story to tell. It might be about the challenges of coming up with their business idea or the details of how they found the motivation to be their own boss. It's important for aspiring entrepreneurs to not lose faith in themselves, especially in those early years. Use these quotes for a boost of motivation, even at the most challenging moments in your journey.

A quote on motivation from Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk

  • "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, businesswoman and first American woman to become a self-made millionaire
  • "The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus." Bruce Lee, martial artist, director, and actor
  • “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it." Estée Lauder, businesswoman and co-founder of Estée Lauder Cosmetics company
  • “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity." Amelia Earhart, aviator, and author
  • “Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." Henry Ford, engineer, industrialist, and founder of Ford Motor Company
  • “You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them." Shonda Rhimes, author, television producer, director, and writer
  • “Work like there is someone working twenty-four hours a day to take it away from you." Mark Cuban, entrepreneur, businessman, and investor

Turn your failures into wisdom

Approximately 20% of new businesses close in their first year. While this might strike you as a high number, it's important to remember these entrepreneurs put a huge effort into an idea they held dear. And if you look at the bigger picture, you'll see failures and many successes. In fact, as of 2019, there are about 6.4 million businesses in the U.S. owned by women of color. Refer to these quotes when you need help remembering that failures can be wonderful learning experiences.

A quote on failure from media mogul Oprah

  • “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist minister, civil rights leader, and author
  • “When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important." Ellen DeGeneres, comedian, talk show host, author, and businesswoman
  • I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate." George Burns, comedian, actor, writer, and singer
  • “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States, author, and delegate of the United Nations
  • “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, U.S. Olympic champion in track and field
  • “It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up." Vince Lombardi, former football coach, and NFL executive
  • "Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor." Truman Capote, novelist, playwright, and short-story writer

Resolve to never stop learning

If you want to start a business to change the world, you're not alone: 71% of women entrepreneurs start a business to make a difference. Entrepreneur statistics are a great resource to refer to as you expand your knowledge of being a business owner. To start the journey, take a look at these quotes on learning experiences from different leaders.

A quote on learning from superstar entertainer Beyoncé

  • “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." Benjamin Franklin, founding father of the United States, writer, printer, and scientist
  • “Even the genius asks his questions." Tupac Shakur, rapper and actor
  • "Find the smartest people you can and surround yourself with them." Marissa Meyer, novelist
  • "I stand up on my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way." Robin Williams, actor and comedian
  • When it comes to learning, people with a growth mindset know how to approach their work. They know how to change. I actively seek out opportunities for self-improvement to stay at the top of the field." Danny Veiga, founder of Danny Veiga Marketing
  • “I've learned that mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success." Jack Welch, business executive, writer, and chemical engineer
  • “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." Bill Gates, businessman, philanthropist, and co-found of Microsoft

Continue to forge ahead and persevere

You've probably heard the phrase “life is not a sprint, it's a marathon." The same could be said for starting a business. Although it might be hard to believe it, especially when you are faced with even more challenges, being an entrepreneur isn't about being the fastest or getting there first. Your business will be a success if you persevere and always remember: Rome wasn't built in a day.

A quote on perseverance from scientist Marie Curie

  • “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success." Dale Carnegie, writer, lecturer, and developer of self-improvement and training courses
  • “I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn't happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme." Aliko Dangote, agriculture and petrochemical business magnate
  • “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat." F. Scott Fitzgerald, novelist, essayist, and screenwriter
  • “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th." Julie Andrews, actress, singer, and author
  • “The impatient idealist says: 'Give me a place to stand and I shall move the earth.' But such a place does not exist. We all have to stand on the earth itself and go with her at her pace." Chinua Achebe, poet and novelist
  • “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." Babe Ruth, professional baseball player
  • “Perseverance, secret of all triumphs." Victor Hugo, poet and novelist

Make meaning over making money

You've probably walked into a business and seen a framed dollar bill displayed on the wall. Although its monetary value is small, the first dollar earned has a priceless emotional value. Your initial investment might be self-funded, a gift, or loan, or a combination of all three. Regardless, don't let earning money consume your every thought. As these quotes prove, money doesn't lead to total happiness but loving what you do certainly does.

A quote on leadership from Due CEO John Rampton

  • "Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of W's you control in your life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it." Tim Ferriss, businessman, author, and motivational speaker
  • "Money, like emotions, is something you must control to keep your life on the right track." Natasha Munson, CEO of Be Magic, Inc.
  • “Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort." Franklin D. Roosevelt, former President of the United States
  • “I will tell you the secret to getting rich on Wall Street. You try to be greedy when others are fearful. And you try to be fearful when others are greedy." Warren Buffett, investor, businessman, and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
  • “There is a gigantic difference between earning a great deal of money and being rich." Marlene Dietrich, actress and singer
  • “Making money isn't hard in itself… What's hard is to earn it doing something worth devoting one's life to." Carlos Ruiz Zafón, novelist
  • “If you make meaning, you'll probably make money." Guy Kawasaki, marketing specialist, author, and venture capitalist

The key to success takes many forms and with so many exciting ventures in the entrepreneurial pipeline, there are thousands of doors that have yet to be opened. Never lose sight of your dreams — when you're ready to make your business official, refer back to this post for that extra boost of inspiration and motivation.

Sources: Census.gov | Babson College | Guidant Financial | Forbes | U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | American Express | Babson College | GBS | Motivational Quotes Twitter | Due | Fresh Books | Fundera | AdAge | AllAuthor | WYWL | YourStory | Adobe | Harvard Business Review | 2 | Kabbage | NFIB | Wells Fargo | CNBC | 2 | MarketResearch.com | PNAS | Suttida Yang | The Australian | Danny Veiga

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About the Author

Siege Media, contributor to LegalZoom

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This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.