Small Business Quotes: Advice, Motivation, and Inspiration


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As a small business owner, you must wear many hats and be a Jack or Jill in charge of the entire business. Some days or times, it can be challenging to stay motivated and inspired, but it’s essential to keep your head up and push through. To help you out, we’ve compiled 30 inspirational and motivational quotes for small business owners, incredible visual templates, and graphic content available on Wepik. Read on for some much-needed words of wisdom and encouragement quotes!

Finding motivation at the right time can remind us of basic lessons we forget in the hectic day-to-day running of our business.

I don’t want anybody to suffer from this insidious condition. That’s why I’ve collected 24 of my favorite pieces of advice, wisdom, and wit to help inspire, motivate, and amuse you.

20 inspirational and motivational quotes for small business owners:

1. “Entrepreneurs understand that there is little difference between obstacles and opportunities.” —Victor Kiam.

You probably remember Victor Kiam from his commercials for Remington Shavers. He was the “guy who liked them so much he bought the company.” Kiam bought Remington for $25 million, even though the company lost $30 million in its last five years. But he saw something worth saving, took a risk, and it paid off. He turned the company around.

Entrepreneurs don’t treat obstacles as a sign to turn around. Most see brick walls and locked doors as challenging to find a new way through, over, or about. Next time you run into a roadblock, consider it a detour to a better route instead of cursing your luck and shaking your fist.

2. “Worry about being better; bigger will take care of itself.” —Gary Comer.

Gary Comer was the founder of Land’s End. He started off selling sailing equipment and duffel bags. The first Land’s End catalog was printed in 1975, quickly becoming one of the world’s biggest mail-order clothing companies. He took the company public in 1986; 2002, Sears bought Land’s End for $1.9 billion.

I like his lesson here because one of the biggest mistakes I see small businesses make is trying to grow too fast. Scaling up is a tricky proposition. Wanting to grow is not bad, but growth shouldn’t be your only goal.

Ensure you have a rock-solid foundation regarding your personnel, process, and, most importantly, culture. That way, when you grow, you’ll be better equipped to handle what comes next. 

3. “Don’t open a shop unless you like to smile.” —Chinese Proverb.

Retail isn’t really about selling THINGS. Retail is all about people. The retail business could be a better fit if you prefer to avoid meeting, talking, and helping people.

Is there an alternative for the anti-social Entrepreneur? I recommend online sales, but who’s on the other end of that internet connection? That’s right. PEOPLE.

In any small business, success starts with basic people skills. I can’t provide scientific evidence, but I’ll bet that a smile and a warm greeting generate more profits than a blank stare and a cold shoulder.

4. “What helps people, helps business.” —Leo Burnett.

Speaking of people, ad legend Leo Burnett is behind some of the most memorable characters in advertising. He created Tony the Tiger, the Jolly Green Giant, the Maytag Repairman, the Keebler Elves, and the Marlboro Man. Burnett is a god in advertising, so his words carry weight.

Burnett believed in speaking simply and directly to people. One of the reasons his ad campaigns worked is that they connected with people’s values. Instead of selling, he focused on helping. 

Try thinking of your business as a way to help people instead of a course to sell goods or services. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Do you want to be pressured by sales pitches? Or do you prefer being asked, “How can I HELP you?” Focus on solving your customer’s problems instead of meeting YOUR sales goals. The results might surprise you.

5. “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.” —Jonathan Winters

Jonathan Winters wasn’t a giant of the industry. But as a comedian, entertainer, and impressionist of great Talent. And this advice applies beautifully to business.

The shoreline is full of people waiting for the right opportunity to appear on the horizon, make it to them and invite them aboard. That’s not how life works. Sometimes your ship comes in, and everything goes your way. Other times, you need to be proactive and take action.

If you’re willing to get wet and move both arms and legs until you get what you’re after, you’re already doing better than all those folks waiting on the beach. 

6. “There’s a lot more business out there in small-town America than I ever dreamed of.” —Sam Walton.

It doesn’t matter whether you love or hate Walmart; Sam Walton’s success story is impressive. In 1945, Walton left the Army and borrowed $20,000 from his father-in-law to buy a variety store in Newport, Arkansas. He spent decades creating a successful model and opened the first Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas 1962. To say things escalated quickly would be an understatement.

For most of the 1980s, Walton was ranked as the wealthiest man in America. Today Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue ($548.7 billion in 2020) and the world’s largest employer (2.2 million), with 11,443 stores and clubs in 26 countries.

My point? This whole thing started in a town with a population of UNDER 4,000 people. This means small businesses in small towns sometimes change that way.

7. “Business opportunities are likes buses. There’s always another one coming.” —Richard Branson.

It’s much easier to wait for business opportunities when you are a billionaire entrepreneur. And Branson probably knows that those buses are coming because he owns them. But he was only sometimes wealthy.

Branson was a lousy student who was once told he would end up in prison or a millionaire. He started by selling everything from wooden tissue boxes to Christmas trees. Once he found success by launching a magazine, he used the profits to jump from one opportunity to the next.

His magazine led to a record store that spawned a record label, leading to an airline, telecommunications, more media companies, and space travel.

What’s the lesson? Always keep your eyes (and mind) open for your own next big thing.

8. “Enemies are so stimulating.” —Katharine Hepburn.

I don’t know the backstory behind this quote, but knowing Hepburn’s reputation in Hollywood, I’ll bet it’s a juicy one. It struck me because sometimes having a “bad guy” is just what small businesses need to motivate them.

History is full of great business rivalries. Coke vs. Pepsi, Mac vs. PC, Burger King vs. McDonald’s, Nike vs Reebok… to name a few. While some great showdowns eventually have a clear winner (Netflix vs. Blockbuster), most of the time, these ongoing “battles” benefit both parties with lots of lively advertising, publicity, and a tug-of-war for market share.

But for small businesses, your enemies are only sometimes your local competitors. Sometimes the enemy is a concept or belief. What (or who) are you fighting against? If you sell healthy meals, your lousy guy is junk food. Professional organizers wage war against clutter. Groundskeepers hold the line against weeds and grass.

If you’re walking onto the battlefield every day, it helps to know what your enemy looks like.

9. “If all else fails, call Larry.” —Larry Lombardi.

Two Lombardi quotes probably push it, but I wanted to get this in. If you are thinking about starting a small business here in Currituck County… if you currently own a small business here… or if you are thinking of expanding, growing, or relocating your business in Currituck County… I can help.

Send an email. Give me a call. I may not have ALL the answers, but I know people who do. At the very least, I can give you some guidance. Because as Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.”

10. “Diligence is the mother of best luck.” —Benjamin Franklin.

The best-kept secret to almost every successful business? They keep going. They work, struggle, and work some more. One day, something clicks. You can call it luck, but it is the intersection of persistence and opportunity.

Think of all the actors and musicians who achieve that rare thing called “overnight success.” It looks like pure luck like they hit the fame and fortune lottery. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find stories of struggling for years:

  • A-list Hollywood stars who acted in small parts for decades.
  • Bands who paid their dues in small clubs.
  • Bestselling authors with stacks of rejection letters.  

Building a small business takes time. Hang in there. Keep at it, and “luck” will find you.

11. “One person never does great things in business. A team of people does them.” —Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple Inc.

Steve Jobs knew the power of encouragement like few and was never too shy to give it out. A vocal champion against conformity, he often asked others to “Think Differently” and embraced creativity as a way of making waves in any arena. Such advice wasn’t merely theoretical; Jobs sought to practice what he preached through speeches, writings, and expressions of encouragement toward his colleagues — a great tool to implement in your day-to-day life!

12. “If you don’t drive your business, you will be driven out.” —B.CB.C. Forbes, Financial Journalist, and Author Forbes Magazine.

Bertie Charles Forbes is a business tycoon who single-handedly founded Forbes magazine, one of the most influential business magazines. Not only was he brilliant regarding business, but he also had a great sense of humor. He even joked that his children would have to work hard to be successful like him if they wanted food on the table. Of course, Forbes magazine continues to inspire business success, so people can still heed B. C. Forbes’ advice!

13. “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” —Albert Einstein, Physicist.

Albert Einstein was one of the most revered scientists of all time, and his work revolutionized how we understand the universe. But what made Einstein great wasn’t just his genius and willingness to try something new. He was a fearless explorer, constantly pushing himself and trying to answer questions no one else had ever asked. His inquisitive spirit led him to uncover untold mysteries of the natural world. Za As we move forward into an increasingly uncertain future, let us remember these essential characteristics of Albert Einstein as an example for us all!

14. “All our dreams can come true if we dare to pursue them.” —Walt Disney, Animator, Film producer, and Entrepreneur.

Walt Disney was an inspiring figure that set out to make dreams come true. His animated films were loved by generations of children and adults worldwide, creating a sense of joy and wonder in viewers’ hearts. It seemed like there was nothing Walt Disney couldn’t do—he changed the way people experienced entertainment and inspired us to always strive for greatness.

15. “You make the right decision for the long run. You manage long-term and continue moving to a higher value.” —Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM. 

Ginni Rometty is a business superstar who’s made waves in the corporate world and beyond. She’s the first woman CEO at IBM and inspires businesspeople everywhere who strive for excellence. With a business background and a complete vision for how technology can improve businesses, she’s become a thought leader who pushes boundaries and encourages others to push their own. Her passion for what she does has propelled her to new horizons within the business realm, where innovation rules the day!

16. “Entrepreneur is someone who has a vision for something and wants to create.” —David Karp, founder and former CEO of Tumblr.

David Karp has undoubtedly impacted the tech world, as he was the vision behind Tumblr, the popular microblog social network. His vision, fueled by his creativity and enthusiasm, enabled users to share their thoughts and ideas uniquely – all enabled by a simple platform. David’s vision’s success was quickly noticed, resulting in Yahoo acquiring Tumblr for 1.1 billion dollars. This vision continues to have a lasting impact today, inspiring countless young people to explore new opportunities for sharing information with others through creative means.

17. “We must accept finite disappointment, never lose infinite hope.” —Martin Luther King Jr., former American Baptist minister and activist. 

Martin Luther King Jr a name that has gone down in history amidst hope and aspiration. He was influential, leading people with poise and grace toward the hope of equality for all. His significance as an advocate for civil rights will be remembered for years to come, thanks to his passionate speeches and encouraged the pursuit of justice. Even after his death, his legacy lives on in those who continue to fight for the same hope he instilled in others.

18. “If you’re going to change things, you must be with the people who hold the levers.” —a former lawyer and jurist, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has undoubtedly earned her place in the annals of history. An outspoken advocate for change, she fiercely championed rights for women and all Americans. Her influence on the law and society cannot be overstated – tackling challenging topics with wit and insight while never shrinking away from a fight. We owe so much to her tenacious dedication to justice and fairness that protected minorities and individuals everywhere. In many ways, Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped change the course of history – for which we can give daily thanks.

19. “The success of each depends upon the success of the other.” —John D. Rockefeller Jr, financier and philanthropist.

John D. Rockefeller Jr. was a success story like no other. He was born into a very wealthy family, but instead of relying on his inherited wealth, he worked hard for success in real estate and philanthropy. Not only did he grow his family’s fortune exponentially, but he also advocated for social reform and set up many charitable foundations that still exist today! John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s success was as unstoppable as his ambitious spirit!

20. “There is no ‘I’ in a team, but there is in the win.” —Michael Jordan, businessman and former professional basketball player.

Michael Jordan is considered 1 of the greatest athletes ever, and it’s not hard to understand why. Besides being an impressive basketball player, he is a win machine. With six championship titles behind him, nobody can doubt that he knows how to win both on and off the court. His legacy also lives on through various brands, his basketball team, and charitable endeavors—evidence that MJ will always be remembered as a winner.


Supporting small businesses was the most critical business lesson we learned in 2023. Retailers realized they should find new ways to bring customers through the door. They also armed themselves with a few e-commerce tricks to fight the big names. 

Nevertheless, all the efforts would only be worthwhile if the customers saw the importance of shopping at small, independent stores. So if you’re a customer, we hope these support small business quotes awaken something noble in you.

Read also: Small Business Quotes: Advice, Motivation, and Inspiration.