The Top 100 Quotes Every Self-Employed Person Should Read

Did you know that nearly 80% percent of small businesses in the United States are self-employed businesses? That’s an estimated 10 million people in the United States that are self-employed, and that’s not even including freelancers or self-employed individuals who have incorporated their business. Unfortunately, there’s also a downside to those numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 percent of businesses tend to fail in the first year, and around 48 percent won’t make it past the second year. So, where do these companies go wrong?

There are so many aspects to running a business that it isn’t always as simple as pinpointing that “one” thing that made a business fail. Rather, there are a number of little things that when put together can take your business on the path to failure or success. As a business owner, your intentions are always to succeed. You wouldn’t start your business if you planned on failing. Sometimes, however, we take the wrong advice or make a few wrong turns.

This is when it’s helpful to have a few words of advice from others who have already been down this path and found success. It’s much better to learn from someone else’s mistakes than from your own. For most people, becoming self-employed is about living the dream and being free to do what you want. In order to do that, you need to have success with your ideas. Luckily, there are a vast number of successful business people who are willing to share their words of wisdom. If you’re considering starting a business, or you own a business now, you won’t want to miss these 100 best business advice quotes.

As I mentioned before, there are many components to building a successful business. That’s why the quotes are broken down into specific categories to help motivate and spur you along in whatever area you may need inspiration or help in. You may want to save this list to be able to reference at different points, since you never know when you’re going to need some extra advice and help. If you’re ready, let’s get started!


Excellence defines the level of play you are bringing to the game. Anyone can start a business, but not everyone has the level of integrity and guts to make it thrive. You need unwavering excellence in all the things that you do.

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” -Napoleon Hill

“Good is not enough. You’ve got to be great.” -Simon Cowell

“The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.” -Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA founder

“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” -Henry Ford

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” -Jimmy Johnson


Success in your business may ultimately come down to the level of passion you have about your chosen field. Therefore, finding something that evokes passion should be of utmost concern. You can’t log in the time and hours needed, or sell others on the concept of your business, if you yourself don’t believe in it.

“One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you.”-Jeff Bezos

“If you live for weekends or vacations, your shit is broken.” -Gary Vaynerchuk

“There’s a way to do it better – find it.” -Thomas Edison

“Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.” -Les Brown

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”-Albert Schweitzer

“Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about.” -Winston Churchill


If you really want to achieve something great, you have to go out there and actually DO something. If you’re struggling in this area, you may find these quotes particularly motivating.

“Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes but they don’t quit.” -Conrad Hilton

“The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.” -Seth Godin

“What is not started will never get finished.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” -Arthur Ashe

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” -Michael Dell

“If you don’t make things happen then things will happen to you.” -Robert Collier

“The longer you’re not taking action, the more money you’re losing.” -Carrie Wilkerson

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” -Walt Disney


While similar to taking action, productivity is more about the method in which you get things done. You can spend all day working, but never actually get anything important done.

“Anything that is measured and watched, improves.” -Bob Parsons, GoDaddy founder

“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.” -Chinese Proverb

“The essential question is not, ‘How busy are you?’ but ‘What are you busy at?’” -Oprah Winfrey

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” -Henry Ford


Probably one of the biggest motivators is when there is visible progress. This shows that you’re on the right path and taking the right steps. It may not be fast or sexy, but a little growth each day is how you win.

“Progress is the ultimate motivation.” -Tony Robbins

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” -Seneca

“I do not think 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

“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” -Chinese Proverb

“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” -John Wooden



Hard work is an essential component of building a business. In order to build something lasting, you have to show up – every single day, especially in the beginning. Let’s face it, if it were easier to do, more people would be doing it! When things get you down or you’re not feeling particularly motivated, consider these words of wisdom:

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” -Zig Ziglar

“Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.” -Napoleon Hill

“I do not believe a man can ever leave his business. He ought to think of it by day and dream of it by night.” -Henry Ford

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” -Vidal Sassoon

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”  -Bill Bradley

“Sheer persistence is the difference between success and failure.” -Donald Trump

There’s no mystery in business success. If you do each day’s task successfully and stay faithfully within these natural operations of commercial laws which I talk so much about and keep your head clear, you will come out all right.” -John D. Rockefeller

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” -Robert Collier

“It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.” -Confucius

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.” -Jim Rohn

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

“Nothing works better than just improving your product.” -Joel Spolsky, Stack Overflow co-founder

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” -Thomas Edison

“Progress is the ultimate motivation.” -Tony Robbins

“Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.” -Robert Orben


If you’re just starting, there are a few tips that you shouldn’t overlook. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of a startup and forget the big picture. With that in mind, here are a few tips every startup entrepreneur should consider.

“The entrepreneur builds an enterprise; the technician builds a job.” -Michael Gerber

“Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.” -John C Maxwell

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” -Unknown

“Success is about creating value.” -Candice Carpenter

“My friends, I tell you that unless you have a vivid picture in your mind of what you want to create; you will not be passionate about pursuing and actualizing the goal.” -Cosmos Maduka

“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

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” -Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder

“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 of Flickr)

“As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big.” -Donald Trump

“You can’t ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” -Steve Jobs

“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 Pinterest

“Always look for the fool in the deal. If you don’t find one, it’s you.” -Mark Cuban

“Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.” -Paul Rand

“The last 10% it takes to launch something takes as much energy as the first 90%.” -Rob Kalin, Etsy founder

“Stay self-funded as long as possible.” -Garrett Camp, founder of Expa, Uber and StumbleUpon


The biggest barrier to business success is probably fear or lack of confidence. Your belief in how you will do is your number one indicator of how you will actually do. Consider these words of advice…

“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.” -Theodore Roosevelt

“If you hear a voice within you saying ‘you are not a painter’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” -Vincent Van Gogh

“The biggest challenge you have is to challenge your own self doubt and your laziness. It is your self doubt and your laziness that defines and limit who you are.” -Rich Dad

“If you’re waiting for encouragement from others, you’re doing it wrong. By the time people think an idea is good, it’s probably too late.” -Aaron Levie

“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

“Behold the turtle, he makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” -Bruce Levin

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” -John Wayne

“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” -Robert Kiyosaki

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” -Robert H Schuller

“To be successful, you must act big, think big and talk big.” -Aristotle Onassis

“Your goals, minus your doubts, equal your reality.” -Ralph Marston

“I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.” -Harland Sanders, KFC founder


If you’re not growing, you’re dying. The brain is a muscle that needs frequent exercise. If it isn’t getting exercise then it starts to atrophy, which makes you less likely to make the right choices in critical situations. The best way to stay competitive and on the forefront is to always be learning.

“Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.” -Dennis Waitley

“To succeed in business, to reach the top, an individual must know all that is possible to know about that business.” -J. Paul Getty

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”-Jim Rohn

“The best education you can get is investing in yourself, and that doesn’t mean college or university.” -Warren Buffet


Your business has a brand and your customer service is at the forefront of that brand. If you don’t pay attention to what your customers need, you can’t deliver what they want.

“Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with people.” -Mary Kay Ash

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” -Warren Buffett

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” -Bill Gates


Money is probably the simplest of components in business to understand. If you’re not making money, your business is failing. It really is as simple as that. However, the way to earn that income is not quite as straightforward. Here are a few tips on the subject.

“Know your numbers’ is a fundamental precept of business.” -Bill Gates

“A business absolutely devoted to service will have one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.” -Henry Ford

“In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.” -Harold Geneen

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


In order to succeed in business, you have to be able to lead in some degree. Your success depends on your ability to get people to do what you need them to do. Whether it’s an employee working for you or a potential customer, your leadership skills will determine how likely it is that you’ll get the results you need.

“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower

“No matter how much work a man can do, no matter how engaging his personality may be, he will not advance far in business if he cannot work through others.” -John Craig

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” -John C. Maxwell

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” -Ralph Nader

“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” -Simon Sinek

“If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.” -Jeff Bezos

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


There aren’t many business ideas that don’t already have someone else out there doing it. So, how do you face the competition? Here are a few tips.

“The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.” -Henry Ford

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

“Don’t worry about people stealing your design work. Worry about the day they stop.” -Jeffrey Zeldman

“Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.” -Mark Cuban


At the end of the day, success and failure are both personal measurements. What one person considers a failure, may be another person’s idea of success. However, there are some methods to making sure you do achieve your own idea of success and how to overcome the idea of failure. Below are some inspiring words on both topics.

“If you really want success, and you don’t have any mentors or guidance, you can get a head start by looking at what everybody else is doing and do the opposite.” -Earl Nightingale

“If you want to become a millionaire, talk to billionaires, you’ll get there quicker.” -Joe Geneza

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” -Bruce Lee

“Responsibilities gravitate to the person who can shoulder them; power flows to the man who knows how.” -Elbert Hubbard

“The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake -you can’t learn anything from being perfect.” -Adam Osborne

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison

Get started image

Ready to get started?

Get the expert support you need

Related Articles

4 Self Employed Career Paths That An MBA Can Offer

by Team ZenBusiness, on April 24, 2024

8 Essentials Of The Self-Employed E-Newsletter

by Team ZenBusiness, on June 07, 2024

Start Your LLC Today