Inspiring Quotes for Startups & Entrepreneurs (To Keep You Going When the Coffee Isn’t Enough)

I love working with startups and entrepreneurs. Part of it’s because I am one, even though I didn’t realize it until a few years ago (despite having a strange obsession with commercial transactions in my early years, and the fact that I opened a bookstore in my basement in second grade).

But the main reason I love working with entrepreneurs in tech is that they come from all walks of life. They come from all over the world, they're all genders and ethnicities, ages, and experience levels. The internet continues to level the playing field, inviting creative business people from all over the world and from every background to participate in the exchange of value.

Today’s brand of entrepreneurship is definitely something to be giddy about. And entrepreneurs seem, on the outside, like they’re giddy most of the time, too.

But you and I know this isn’t true. When things are good, they’re great -- but when things are bad, well.

Solopreneurship, especially, is lonely. When things don’t work out, it can bruise your confidence. When you hear “no,” it can feel like an attack on you. And if your family depends on you to bring home the bacon, self-employment carries with it a whole additional level of pressure.

I curated the following list of quotes based on the top challenges we face as entrepreneurs: fear, work-life balance, and self doubt. Hopefully, these nuggets of inspiration will help you get a better handle on all four.

Facing Fear

“Some fear can be useful, so if your fear drives you to work hard, let it!”

-Benjamin Berman

“Life is like the monkey bars: you have to let go to move forward. Once you make the decision to leap into entrepreneurship, be sure to loosen your grasp on old concepts so you can swing your way to new ones.”

-Leah Busque

"Have no fear of perfection -- you'll never reach it."

-Salvador Dali

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“How do you know that the upgrade to your business is worth it? The answer for me goes back to having a growth strategy. If our goal is to fill up our new office space with 40 employees within the next year, what are the things we need to do to get there? Are those things likely and realistic? Having a growth plan to execute relieves the fear and enables an entrepreneur to move both themselves, and their business, forward."

-Brett Farmiloe

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game's winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that's why I succeed."

-Michael Jordan

“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world.”

-Simon Sinek

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."

-Dale Carnegie

“He’s no failure. He’s not dead yet.”

-William Lloyd George

Work-Life Balance

"Goals aren’t enough. You need goals plus deadlines: goals big enough to get excited about and deadline to make you run. One isn’t much good without the other, but together they can be tremendous.”

-Ben Feldman

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”

-Jerry Rice

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"You must take the time to do something that brings you joy. If you are saying to yourself, ‘I can’t do that because I have to pick up the kids, and run my business, and … and … who’s got time for fun? Are you insane?’ If you don’t have time for fun, you’ll be forced to take time for illness. Then what?”

-Beth Ramsay

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”

-Jim Rohn

“I regularly take my entrepreneurship students out walking because I want to get them in the habit of noticing and thinking about what they notice. They have to leave their phones behind to learn the basic lesson: Be where you are.”

-Margaret Heffernan

“The right amount of overwhelm is a driving factor. A lot of it causes fear and cripples productivity. I deal with it by asking myself, ‘What are the two-three things I can do right now to improve my business?’ It allows me to make gradual, yet consistent progress and keeps the excess overwhelm at bay.”

-Nitin Chhoda

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."

-Henry Ford

“Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.”

-Ted Turner, Entrepreneur and Businessman

“Some days, 24 hours is too much to stay put in, so I take the day hour by hour, moment by moment. I break the task, the challenge, the fear into small, bite-size pieces. I can handle a piece of fear, depression, anger, pain, sadness, loneliness, illness. I actually put my hands up to my face, one next to each eye, like blinders on a horse.”

-Regina Brett

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."

-Chinese proverb

“Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.”

-Alice Koller

Handling Self-Doubt

“Entrepreneurship tends to come with a hefty side-portion of self-doubt. There's always someone doing better to compare ourselves to. Always some next obstacle to overcome. Over time, questions like ‘Am I good enough?’ turn into ‘Will I be found out and exposed?’ The only way the fear gets addressed is to first recognize it and then talk about it."

-Todd Emaus

“Stick with it, even on the bad days.”

-Vivienne Harr

“Entrepreneurship, in particular, forces us to wear hats we never wear — hats that don't always look good on us right away.”

-Braveen Kumar

“If Plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters.”

-Claire Cook

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“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”

-Truman Capote

“Science and vision are not opposites or even at odds. They need each other. I sometimes hear other startup folks say something along the lines of: 'If entrepreneurship was a science, then anyone could do it.' I'd like to point out that even science is a science, and still very few people can do it, let alone do it well.”

-Eric Ries

“Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

-Albert Einstein

“Men learn little from success, but much from failure.”

-Arabian Proverb

“You must be very patient, very persistent. The world isn’t going to shower gold coins on you just because you have a good idea. You’re going to have to work like crazy to bring that idea to the attention of people. They’re not going to buy it unless they know about it.”

-Herb Kelleher

“I've had many failures in terms of technological ... business ... and even research failures. I really believe that entrepreneurship is about being able to face failure, manage failure and succeed after failing.”

-Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw