16 Quotes From Real Entrepreneurs to Help You Stay on Course (Even When You Want to Quit)

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All contributions are from real entrepreneurs, curtesy of Arena Virtual Coworking

“I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.” — George Bernard Shaw

Last week I had a nice chat with Margo Aaron, the founder of Arena Virtual Coworking. One aspect I found particularly interesting is how she vets the members to join her co-working. She interviews every single candidate to see if 1) they’re real entrepreneurs, and 2) if they’d be a good match.

I like the first part: Real entrepreneurs. It seems that nowadays, a lot of people have become self-proclaimed entrepreneurs, or as some put it: Wantrepreneurs.

Are you a real entrepreneur?

I asked myself that question too a while back. I had started 5 businesses at that point and still I was pondering on that question. 

What defines an entrepreneur anyway?

I had given this much thought. And through my experience as an entrepreneur myself and by surrounding myself with other entrepreneurs, I had come up with a self-assessment “test” to know, once and for all, who’s a real entrepreneur. Check it out after read the tasty quotes on this post.

The Ultimate Self-Assessment Test - Are You An Entrepreneur Or Not?
A Hands-On Approach On How To Validate It Once And For Allmedium.com

*The following are in the order in which I received them from the entrepreneurs:


Michelle Warner

Online Business Growth Strategist

You’re leaving money on the table, friend. LET’S FIX THAT.

http://themichellewarner.com/

“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.” — Andy Warhol

I had this quote printed on my business cards when I started my business and a print of it hangs over my desk to this day. It’s a reminder to me that entrepreneurship is inherently a creative act. It is art and requires attention to nuance, instinct and chasing ideas that pop up in your subconscious just as much as it requires knowledge of best practices, cash flow management and team building.

“It takes a checkbook to change the world.” — Mother Teresa (source uncertain)

I return to this quote every time I feel guilty for focusing on my business when there’s disaster or hardship in the world that makes trying to grow a business seem like a privileged or silly pursuit. But then I remember that I can’t drop everything and solve every problem in the world- but I can grow my business so I have the financial and emotional bandwidth to aggressively support those who are on the front lines.

“The trick was to stay hammered enough to write courageously but stay sober enough to see the screen.” — Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

This is an extreme quote and not one that I live literally (I don’t drink) and it still has a place in my daily reminders because it’s such a great description of what it feels like to toe the line of vulnerability and visibility required to build a business. I’d venture to guess every entrepreneur has struggled to toe the line between sharing without a filter in order to be true to themselves, and also being present enough to edit that truth so others can relate and take in the important message without getting caught up in the drama of the share.

“The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

This is a tamer version of the quote above that means a similar thing to me.


Susan Boles

CEO of ScaleSpark

We make your SaaS tools talk to each other so you can grow faster AND keep your sanity

ScaleSpark.co

“Everything sucks at first, very few things suck forever” — John Gorman in this article

Being an entrepreneur is such a roller coaster — some days you’re so excited, some days you’re terrified. Every day is something new, something you’re testing or improving or changing. This is my reminder that when you’re trying something new or learning something new, you’re probably not going to be the best at it, and it’s going to be frustrating and hard, but that it won’t always be that way, and to just keep pushing through.

“All limitations are self imposed” — Ernest Holmes

No one can put limits on us like we can put on ourselves. I have this one written on my whiteboard in my office to encourage me to think about what limits might I be putting on myself. Am I limiting my potential or the potential of my business in some way? To just stop and take a minute to see if there are any beliefs or thoughts that might be holding me back from what I really want.

“Done is better than perfect”

As entrepreneurs, there’s at least a little bit of a perfectionist in all of us. This is maybe less of an inspiring quote and more of a mantra — a reminder that there is a point at which you have a perfectly fine product and it’s better to put it out there in the world than get stuck in perfection paralysis.


Margo Aaron

Founder of Arena Virtual Coworking

Your Spouse Doesn’t Want To Hear Another Story About Your Business — But we do.

www.ArenaVirtualCoworking.com

“You cannot invent the future if you care too much what the old world order thinks” — Cindy Gallop, from this talk

Every time I get stuck caring what other people think, I remember this quote. The people who transform the world are not “popular” or “cool” but rather have the “courage to withstand naysayers” (to quote Malcolm Gladwell). Transformation starts with the right attitude of mind. Cindy’s quote always reminds me that if people are looking at me thinking, “You’re a weirdo” then I’m doing something right.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue” — Maya Angelou

I’ve tried to disprove this SO many times, but it always comes back to having courage. Courage is the foundation of everything else you want in life. I remind myself that it’s my duty to stand up and be courageous. To lead by example. Because there’s a trickle-down effect to courage — if I’m more courageous, you are too.

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs” — Stephen King, On Writing

King was explaining that a sentence is stronger when you say what you mean, without all the bells and whistles. Adverbs dilute the power of sentence. They try too hard. They’re superfluous and unnecessary. Truth is more powerful when you say what you mean (I really wanted to write, “The truth is a lot more powerful when you just say what you mean.” Get it?). It’s a useful reminder that you should be deliberate with your words. And to stop trying so hard. You can be powerful without all the adornment. I think it’s a nice metaphor for life and business.


Jake Kahana

Cofounder of Caveday

Maximize Productivity With Deep Work — Events and Workshops for You and Your Team

www.caveday.org

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us show up and get to work.” — Chuck Close

Chuck Close is a famous hyperrealist painter, and I’ve always been inspired by his work, especially in the last 20 years since he’s been paralyzed. This quote reminds me to not wait around for “right” or “perfect” but instead to trust the process. Great things happen one step at a time, great ideas don’t come fully formed, and greatness doesn’t happen in a lightning bolt of creative genius. They take labor and process.

“Fear is good…the more scared we are of a… calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” — Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”

“The War of Art” is a brilliant book that reminds me why I started. Every time I re-read it I get new inspiration for pushing through another bout of resistance. And the reason I get stuck so many times (and stuck doesn’t always feel like stuck– sometimes it just feels like doing the dishes are more important right now) is because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of what comes next, afraid of people not liking what I’m making, afraid of not knowing what comes next or being found out as an imposter. And being reminded that fear is an indicator of important work is always a great reminder.

“When you’re in a rut, you have to question everything except your ability to get out of it.” — Twyla Tharp, “The Creative Habit”

This is another book I go back to for insights and perspective every couple years. This, like Chuck Close, reminds me about process and about putting in the sweat to get what I want. This quote also reminds me that as a creator and a creative person, that I got here because of curiosity. And that the best way to keep going is just to ask different questions. To turn the box on its head and ask different questions from a different perspective. Because to get unstuck is not about finding the answer. It’s about searching for the right questions that will feed the process of answering it.


Hillary Weiss

Creator of The Wordshops

D.I.Y. + D.I.T. [Do-It-Together] Copywriting Courses For Unconventional Entrepreneurs

www.hillaryweiss.com & www.thewordshops.org

“Know who you are, and deliver at all times.” — RuPaul

The first is from RuPaul, and it’s my favorite go-to quote for all things personal branding and “showing up” online. This idea of always “knowing who you are” and “delivering” is a vital standard for business owners, as we must project consistent confidence in what we know and how we deliver it, and commit to showing up as that force and voice in everything we do for our businesses, from the social posts and emails we write, to who we are at events. 

I’ll add to that: learning to exude confidence even when I don’t feel it has me through some really tough times (as every entrepreneur finds themselves in the dungeon of self doubt at some point.)

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” — Antoine de Saint Exupéry

The second is, hands down, the most inspiring quote I can share about anything copy, sales, or persuasion-focused. Choosing to inspire and serve others always goes miles and miles further than giving your audience a to-do list, or going straight for the hard sale. Always aim to help people dream first, and then give them the tools to do.

“If you make mistakes, you’re learning. If you repeat them, well… then you’re just doing a bad job.” — My dad

And finally, this last one is from my Dad. Growing pains are just a fact of life, especially when you run a business. Fall on your face, get your hands dirty. Just don’t plan to spend the rest of your life with messy hands and your butt in the air. Use your mistakes as lessons learned, and move forward. “


Conclusion

  • What quotes spoke to you the most?
  • Who is most like you as an entrepreneur? As a person?
  • What are your own top 3 quotes? Why?

What I personally find interesting from the varied quotes from these entrepreneurs is that I feel like I can relate to them all. Even though, as entrepreneurs, we all work on our own things, there are things that unify us, and that couldn’t be made more obvious than through these relatable quotes.

I repeat this over and over throughout my stories, but here is my own favourite quote:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn

Do you surround yourself with other entrepreneurs? 

I say you should! That’s why I love coworking spaces. That’s why I love good networking events. As the Arena’s website says: my wife doesn’t want to hear another story about my business, so it’s nice to surround myself with like-minded people. Try it too!

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, sharing, and following! :)

Looking forward to reading your comments!