An entrepreneur is a person who organizes, manages and assumes the risk of a business venture or idea for the sake of profits. Entrepreneurs have awareness to spot opportunities, the creativity to innovate, the confidence to take risks and the tenacity to turn concepts into successful businesses. Entrepreneurs represent every field imaginable, and many of their ideas have helped shaped industries and the world we live in. While the list of inspirational quotes is like the universe, vast and constantly expanding, here are six seeds of wisdom from successful entrepreneurs.
Mary Kay Ash
Founder of Mary Kay Inc.
"We must have a theme, a goal, a purpose in our lives. If you don't know where you are aiming, you don't have a goal."
After being passed up for a promotion after 25 years in the direct selling business, Mary Kay Ash took her $5,000 in savings and created Beauty by Mary Kay. The company was founded on the belief that women could foster their talents and realize unlimited success. Today, Mary Kay Inc. has more than 2 million Independent Beauty Consultants worldwide. In addition to founding Mary Kay Inc., Ash authored three books which all became best sellers. In 2004, she was named one of the 25 Most Influential Business Leaders of the Last 25 Years by PBS and the Wharton School of Business.
Ash's quote emphasizes the importance of identifying one's ambitions. Without defining goals, it is impossible to reach them. Ash envisioned a company in which any woman could become just as successful as she wanted to be.
Founder of Spanx Shapewear
"Failure is not the outcome. Failure is not trying."
As a young girl, Sara Blakely's father would ask: "What did you fail at today?" Growing up, failure was viewed as a good thing. If Sara didn't fail at something that day, her father would be duly disappointed. This enthusiasm towards trying new things, regardless of the outcome, helped Blakely avoid the paralyzing fear of failure that prevents many people from reaching beyond their comfort zones. In her 20s, and frustrated by the lack of undergarments to wear with white pants, Sara Blakely's idea for Spanx was born when she cut the feet off a pair of pantyhose. In 2012, she was the youngest self-made women to join the Forbes' billionaire list.
According to Blakely, the only real failure is to not try at all.
Founder of Patagonia
"How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top."
As a member of the Southern California Falconry Club where he rappelled down cliffs to falcon aeries, a teenaged Yvon Chouinard laid down the roots of what would become a legendary climbing career. Dissatisfied with the climbing equipment that was available, Chouinard decided to make his own. He purchased a coal-fired forge, an anvil, tongs and hammers. He set up shop in his parents' backyard. By 1970, Chouinard Equipment became the largest climbing hardware supplier in the United States.
Since founding Patagonia, one of the world's most successful outdoor clothing and gear companies, Chouinard has been a pioneer in mixing environmentalism with sound business practices. How we play the game, whether in business or in life, can matter more than how we finish.
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Thomas Edison developed the phonograph, commercially practical light bulbs and the motion picture camera. He was a pioneer in applying mass production to the process of invention, and he was known for his systematic approach to research and development. He is credited with creating the first industrial research lab.
As holder of more than 1,000 U.S. patents, Thomas Edison was one of the most productive inventors in history. Edison accepted the progression that is inherent to success. He demonstrated that each step in the process is vital to meeting the goal.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist who developed what is known as the world's most famous equation: E=mc². His contributions to physics include his work on special relativity, general relativity, mass-energy equivalence and the Theory of Brownian Motion. He was awarded the Noble Prize for Physics in 1921.
Able to identify the problems of physics and develop organized strategies to solve them, Einstein expressed the need to learn from both mistakes and successes through his well-known definition of insanity. Making the same mistake over and over again will result in the same failures. Conversely, even when something does work, such as a business model, it may not continue to produce the desired results over time. Adaptation is key.
Founder of Dunkin' Donuts
"Show me a person who never made a mistake, and I will show you a person who never did anything."
In the 1940s, William Rosenberg founded Industrial Luncheon Services using $1,500 in war bonds and $1,000 in borrowed seed capital. Following its success, and noticing that a significant percentage of revenues came from coffee and doughnuts, Rosenberg founded the Dunkin' Donuts franchise in 1950. Dunkin' Donuts is now represented in 32 countries with more than 10,000 locations. In 1959, Rosenberg and a group of entrepreneurs met to discuss the future of franchising and founded the International Franchise Association.
In business and in life, it is impossible to avoid all mistakes. Successes are due in part to failures, and mistakes are an inevitable part of the learning process.
The Bottom Line
For thousands of years, entrepreneurs have discovered, invented, created, developed, improved and theorized. Their quotes help explain their modi operandi and the reasons they believe they have become successful. Their words of wisdom may also motivate others to set goals, embrace failure and learn from their mistakes.