Starting a business is hard. That’s just a fact. That’s why we try to provide so many resources that specifically help founders navigate building, launching, and growing their businesses—here on our blog, on our YouTube channel, and on the Zero to a Million podcast.
But sometimes you don’t need to know how to do something. Instead, you just need the motivation to stick with it.
Looks like the background of a motivational poster, doesn’t it?
So we rounded up startup quotes that are the perfect motivation to get you through some key milestones:
- Launching your business
- Reaching your first 100 customers
- Raising funding
- Failing for the first time
- Getting through your first year
Here we go.
Startup quotes for launching your business
Knowing whether or not to act on an idea is hard. These quotes won’t weigh in on any specifics that you’re considering, but they will help motivate you to keep going—whether that’s considering, planning, or getting ready to launch.
Plus, even after you’ve decided to start, there’s always a lot of work that needs to be done before you can open for business. Whether you’re working on building your product, setting up your agency offerings, or nailing down your pre-launch marketing strategy, here are some quotes to inspire you to keep going.
1. “Play by the rules, but be ferocious.” – Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike
Phil Knight with a Nike sneaker.
2. “You only have to do a few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.” – Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
3. “There’s no shortage of remarkable ideas, what’s missing is the will to execute them.” – Seth Godin, entrepreneur and best-selling author
4. “When you find an idea that you just can’t stop thinking about, that’s probably a good one to pursue.” — Josh James, CEO and co-founder of Omniture
5. “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein, physicist
6. “The first one gets the oyster, the second gets the shell.” – Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and philanthropist
7. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney, founder of the Walt Disney Company
8. “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe.” – Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, television producer, and business owner
9. “Don’t take too much advice. Most people who have a lot of advice to give — with a few exceptions — generalize whatever they did. Don’t over-analyze everything. I myself have been guilty of over-thinking problems. Just build things and find out if they work.” — Ben Silbermann, founder of Pinterest
10. “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 of Wendy’s
11. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison, entrepreneur and inventor
12. “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” — Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn
13. “The stars will never align, and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way.” — Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week
14. “Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you.” — Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
15. "Don't be intimidated by what you don't know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else." — Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx
Startup quotes for getting your first 100 customers
After you’re launching your startup, there are still key milestones you need to reach. One of them? Getting some customers.
16. “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau, author
17. “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” – Estée Lauder, co-founder of Estée Lauder
18. “The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade.” – Benjamin Franklin, founding Father
19. "Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." — John D. Rockefeller, business magnate and philanthropist
20. “The reason I've been able to be so financially successful is my focus has never, ever for one minute been money.” — Oprah Winfrey, talkshow host, television producer, and business owner
Oprah, entrepreneurial icon.
21. “You don’t build a business, you build people, then people build the business.” — Zig Ziglar, author, salesman, and motivational speaker
22. “Always deliver more than expected.” — Larry Page, co-founder of Google
23. “If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” — Zig Ziglar, author, salesman, and motivational speaker
24. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” — Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
25. “Wonder what your customer really wants? Ask. Don’t tell.” — Lisa Stone, co-founder and CEO of BlogHer
26. “Nothing works better than just improving your product.” — Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Stack Overflow
Startup quotes for raising rounds of funding
Whether you’re looking to start or to scale your startup, at some point you’ll likely need to figure out funding. That could be a traditional bank loan, venture capital, or a bootstrapped method. Here are startup quotes to pump you up before asking for money.
27. “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States
28. “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple
29. “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel, founder of Chanel
30. “I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” Oprah Winfrey, talkshow host, television producer, and business owner
31. “The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.” — Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA
32. "Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations.” — Tim O’Reilly, founder, and CEO of O’Reilly Media
33. “So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.” — Caterina Fake, Flickr co-founder
34. “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” — Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
Startup quotes for your first big failure
Running late for important meetings. Working on a campaign that misses the mark. Whatever your mistakes or misses are, failing is a part of working. That’s especially true when it comes to starting a business.
Here are startup quotes that speak to failure—and how to keep working through it.
35. “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
36. “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” – Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group
37. “Every problem is a gift—without problems we would not grow.” – Anthony Robbins, author and coach
38. “The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.” – Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
39. “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” — Thomas Edison, entrepreneur and inventor
40. “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” — Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company
41. “ When you accept that failure is a good thing, it can actually be a huge propeller toward success.” — Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble
42. “Failure is success if we learn from it.” – Malcolm Forbes, American entrepreneur and publisher of Forbes magazine
43. “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” — Drew Houston, founder and CEO of Dropbox
44. “I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” — Jeff Bezos, founder, and CEO of Amazon
45. “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group
Startup quotes for your first year of business
We’ve heard it from founders so many times before: The first year of running a business is hard. That’s probably why there are so many startup statistics about businesses not making it to that milestone.
Here, we gathered startup quotes from business owners, founders, and more to get you ready.
46. “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” — Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric
47. “Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.” — Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter
48. “If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.” — Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon
49. “If you define yourself by how you differ from the competition, you’re probably in trouble.” — Omar Hamoui, co-founder of AdMob
50. “There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team.” — Jason Fried, 37signals founder and co-author of Rework
51. “Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.” — Arianna Huffington, president of The Huffington Post Media Group
52. “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” — Scott Belsky, co-founder of Behance
53. “Get big quietly, so you don’t tip off potential competitors.” — Chris Dixon, an investor at Andreessen Horowitz
Keep these startup quotes in mind
I don’t know about you, but I keep sticky notes on the wall by my desk. Some are marketing targets, some are reminders, but the others are quotes that motivate me. Whether you grab a sticky note or bookmark this blog post, keep these startup quotes close at hand so you can reference them whenever you need a quick reminder!