Need Some Motivation? 30 Nuggets of Inspiration for Small Business Owners

Small business motivational quotes and stories

We’ve all been there: Whether your business is running like a dream or experiencing a few hiccups, there are days when you’re just not feeling it. Need a motivational boost to get you through the week? Here, we’ve culled 30 of our favorite quotes, stories and creative exercises designed to get those juices flowing.

  • How many times have you woken up on Monday morning and wished desperately that you could rewind back to Saturday? Dan Zadra has a better idea. This author of motivational design books like “5: Where Will You Be Five Years From Today?” argues that it only takes a quick switch of thought patterns to transform Mondays from dreaded weekend ruiners to exciting opportunities. If we dedicated each Monday to an exciting pursuit, he says, we could all accomplish a world of amazing things. You have 260 Mondays over the next five years. What will you do with them?
  • “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh, artist
  • Huge things come from humble beginnings. When Sophia Amuroso launched Nasty Gal as an eBay store in 2006, she was a one-woman operation buying vintage merchandise, penning product descriptions and photographing items all by herself. Thanks to her unique vision and unwavering sense of what girls wanted to see and buy, the company now employs nearly 300 people and caters to more than 550,000 customers in 60 countries. Amoruso’s net worth is an estimated $250 million.
  • Fashion designer Vera Wang started from similarly unassuming beginnings. The retail value of her bridal and lifestyle goods is rumored to be more than $1 billion a year, but it took her several careers – including a failed attempt at making the 1968 United States Olympic Team – to get there. Wang didn’t take the first steps toward her current empire until 1990. She was 40 years old at the time.
  • “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson, author of “Treasure Island”
  • “Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” – Elisabeth Elliot, author
  • We’ve all heard this blue-sky mantra: What would you do if you could not fail? Today, make a list of five things you’d try if you were guaranteed to succeed. Hang the list in your office, and use it to inspire your everyday ideas and decisions.
  • Steven Spielberg may not have made a what-if list, but he certainly wasn’t afraid of failure. The now-iconic film director was rejected from the University of Southern California’s film program twice. He went on to create cultural touchstones like “E.T.” and “Jurassic Park” and is now one of the university’s trustees.
  • “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
  • “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates
  • Even seriously successful companies experience missteps and back slides. The lifestyle website Refinery 29 made a major push for e-commerce only to discover that they simply weren’t so great at it. Rather than continue to do CPR on a failing venture, they killed the commerce offerings and created an aggressive plan that combined advertising, editorial and incredible content. Agility is the name of the game.
  • Les Wexer is known for being just as agile as the chairman and CEO of Limited Brands. In fact, his commitment to agility – and constant pursuit of bigger, better methods of competing in the marketplace – led him to sell The Limited, the company’s namesake franchise, in 2010. Talk about fearless.
  • Wexner’s been quoted as saying that regardless of whether he works a 70- or 80-hour week, he always takes his brain with him when he goes home. This week, let your own brain shine in those off hours. Skip your evening television routine, and use the time to work on a project that exercises your most fearless muscles. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish – and learn – when the bottom line’s not a factor.
  • “It is only by going through a volume of work that…your work will be as good as your ambitions. I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s going to take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just got to fight your way through.” – Ira Glass, host of National Public Radio’s “This American Life”
  • “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol, artist
  • “It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” – Lena Horne, singer and actress
  • “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky, hockey player
  • “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle, comedian
  • John Paul DeJoria didn’t just build a door; he knocked on them as well. After spending time in foster care, Los Angeles gangs and eventually the military, the founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems created a hair-care line that he sold door to door while living in his car. The company is now worth more than $900 million a year.
  • “When you have exhausted all your possibilities, remember this: You haven’t.” – Thomas Edison, inventor
  • Nearly every business owner views Walt Disney as a paragon of success, but did you know that some of his most famous ventures teetered on the brink of collapse? “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” saved his animation studio from bankruptcy, and Disneyland – which was predicted to fail by nearly every analyst at the time – almost bankrupted the studio again. Disney’s commitment to creative vision and unique experiences ultimately made him the dictionary definition of the American Dream, but it took a ton of steely resolve to get there.
  • Trying to carve out your own unique vision in a world of entrepreneurial spirit? Try this: Ask yourself what the most successful, inspirational business leaders would do. Then do something they’d never even consider.
  • “We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein, physicist
  • “Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.” – Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group
  • “Make every detail perfect, and limit the number of details to perfect.” – Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter
  • “You don’t want everyone to see a piece of content. You want the people who are really excited about the content to see it.” – Jonah Peretti, co-founder of BuzzFeed and Huffington Post
  • “The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.” – Jessica Hische, illustrator
  • Even if you’re already doing the work you love, procrastination doesn’t have to be a dirty word. After all, giving your brain a rest is among the best methods for solving a problem. This week, take a series of 15-minute procrastination breaks, but find fresh ways to spend the time. Fly a kite. Climb a tree. Wander the local market, or drive down a street you’ve never seen. You might just come back to work with a solution to the issue that’s been nagging you for months.
  • “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn
  • “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” – Dalai Lama

Angela Prilliman
About the Author
Angela Prilliman

Angela is a Fivestars writer, designer, and illustrator extraordinaire. When she’s not crafting up marketing assets, she loves to doodle and overshare on her increasingly popular Instagram, @heyitsheli.

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