70 Quotes About Hard Work That’ll Help You Reach Your Goals

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Donald C. Kelly
Donald C. Kelly


Success doesn’t come easy — even the most dedicated entrepreneur sometimes finds it tough to stay on track.

hard work quotes

To keep your eyes on the prize, learn from 70 top hard work quotes. 

Allow the words of those who have gone before us to motivate you and keep you focused. Learn from others who have walked the same path and share in their hard-fought lessons.

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Table of Contents

Quotes About Hard Work

Best Quotes About Hard Work

1.  "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard." — Tim Notke, basketball coach

GettyImages-85649485Most of us agree talent matters. In fact, many experts dispute the notion that hard work overrides talent every time.

The caveat: hard work must be the common factor for anyone seeking to be successful, regardless of talent.

No amount of talent can supersede hard work. If you have natural ability, don’t expect it to automatically generate success. It won’t.

2. "Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable." — Coco Chanel, fashion designer

best hard work quotesIt’s true that your approach to failure dictates its impact on your organization. Do you treat failure as a learning opportunity or a situation to avoid?

Failure is often unpleasant. Your decision to analyze and learn from it will be the difference in your organization’s trajectory.


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3. "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." — Maya Angelou, American poet, and civil rights activist

best hard work quotesOur best efforts are our best efforts until we get more information that helps us improve. Always learn from your best, apply your teachings, and get better.

4. "If your teacher, coach, or mentor believes you can do something, you’re more likely to do it." — Gwen Moran, FastCompany

GettyImages-1345022832We’ll never be able to control all the aspects of business, but we can control our response to them.

When challenges threaten to derail your efforts — look to those who have survived similar struggles. Seek motivation in their stories.

5. "Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do." — Pele, Brazilian soccer player

Unless your experience is unique, hard work and perseverance most often lead to success. If we’re scared of hard work, we likely will have a harder time reaching success.

6. "People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it." — George Bernard Shaw, playwright

best hard work quotes - shawExperienced business people distinguish between pessimists and defeatists.

Pessimists are more willing to acknowledge red flags and take corrective action than optimists.

Defeatists oppose change of any kind on the grounds it might not work. In any kind of business, it’s an unwelcome viewpoint.

Keep an eye out for defeatist attitudes — refuse to let them infiltrate your organization.

7. "I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near." — Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister

The recipe for success contains a lot of hard work. Sometimes it can be luck, but it’s primarily hard work.

8. "You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself." — Alan Alda, actor

We may set out on our journey to success with an idea of how we want to get there, but sometimes we need to pivot along the way.

Being okay with not knowing what your next step is and allowing yourself to simply be on the journey can be hard, but it pays off and helps us learn more about ourselves.

9. "I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday." — Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the U.S.

best hard work quotes - eleanor roosevelt

Entrepreneurs face tough choices. One of the biggest might be quitting your existing job to run your own business.

Many entrepreneurs report making tough decisions that changed their lives for the better. Be willing to make the challenging calls and push through the difficult times.

10. "Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all." — Sam Ewing, author

best hard work quotes - sam ewing

Most of us love Cinderella stories about companies that turned into overnight sensations. We love the idea of making a lot of money without working too hard, but we fail to acknowledge that overnight successes usually don’t happen overnight.

Inspirational Quotes About Working Hard

11. "Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability comes true for us." — Susan L. Taylor, journalist

best hard work quotes - susan l taylorSometimes we base our success and progress on the success and progress that others make, but doing this can hold us back. We’re better served by believing in ourselves and basing our ideas of success on ourselves because, if we believe we can, we will.

12. "Sometimes, you have to give up. Sometimes, knowing when to give up, when to try something else, is genius. Giving up doesn’t mean stopping. Don’t ever stop." — Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike

What do you do when it’s time to change course because the concept you’re pursuing isn’t working?

It’s O.K. to acknowledge that something isn’t working. Keep moving, whichever direction you choose.

13. "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton, mathematician, physicist, and author

By leveraging the work of major thinkers before him, Newton was able to make even more intellectual progress. In this way, success is a collaborative effort. What can you learn from others?

14. "The only thing standing between you and outrageous success is continuous progress." — Dan Waldschmidt, business strategist

best hard work quotes - dan waldschmidtVery often, we fail to act on an idea or a concept because it isn’t perfect. We fail to realize that "imperfectly done is better than perfectly planned." While it’s good to do your best work, it’s worthless to allow the fear of imperfection to paralyze you.

15. "I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." — Thomas Jefferson, American Founding Father

Think of luck as an opportunity. We all have access to it. Humble people capitalize on luck because they remain open to help from others. Their willingness to admit vulnerability invites others to engage with them.

Be vulnerable enough to admit you don’t have all the answers. Seize opportunities when they appear and you’ll likely find that success will follow.

16. "If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time."  — Steve Jobs, co-Founder of Apple Inc.

best hard work quotes - steve jobs

Oftentimes the media shows us depictions of success that make it seem effortless, like it happened overnight.

Few of these success stories actually happen overnight, save for freak occurrences.

Instead, success stories come along after periods of significant work. Maybe success did come all at once, but there was likely a period of hard work, a tipping point, and then success happened quickly.

17. "Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible." —Tony Robbins, American author, and speaker


It can sometimes seem intimidating to set goals if we don’t know how to achieve them, but goals can help illuminate the path to success as they bring a sense of direction and, when achieved, confirm that we’re on the right path.

18. "On any given Monday I am one sale closer and one idea away from being a millionaire." — Larry D. Turner

famous hard work quotes - larry d turner

Florence Chadwick set out to swim from Catalina Island to the coast of California in 1952. After swimming for 15 hours, she was physically and emotionally exhausted. She asked to be taken from the water.

Chadwick didn’t know that she was less than a mile away from her goal, but fog obscured the shoreline and she didn’t realize how close she was.

When you can’t see the shoreline, keep working. You’re likely closer than you think.

19. "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."— Stephen King, author

Combining natural talent and hard work most often leads to success, or at least more often than simply relying on talent and nothing else.

20. "Impossible is just an opinion." — Paulo Coelho, Brazilian lyricist, and novelist

famous hard work quotes - paolo coelho

21. "Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig." Malcolm Gladwell, journalist, speaker, and author

When hard work is driven by passion, it's easier to push through hard times with determination and optimism. 

Quotes About Doing Hard Things

22. "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." — Muhammad Ali, Black professional boxer and activist

famous hard work quotes - muhammad ali

Your definition of success is determined by your own individual goals. However, what always holds true is that achieving success involves taking risks. Place yourself out of your comfort zone and discover the benefits it can bring.

23. "There are no traffic jams on the extra mile." — Zig Ziglar, author, and motivational speaker

Endurance runner Calum Neff learned a fellow runner was stranded in a flooding house during Hurricane Harvey. The runner had a broken leg and children to care for, so Neff rushed over with a raft and a truck and rescued them.

Neff then set up a command post and organized nearby rescue efforts and resources. Ultimately, his team rescued 600 families from the floodwaters.

Be willing to do extra work — even if it doesn’t benefit you. Few people do it, so you’ll set yourself apart from the crowd.

24. "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." — Walt Disney, founder of Walt Disney World

famous hard work quotes - walt disneyDoing hard things requires courage. But, having the courage to do hard things can make our dreams come true and bring the success we desire.

Consider yourself courageous for doing hard things every single day.

25. "The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it." ― Epicurus, Greek philosopher

Doing hard things can make us want to give up, but sometimes doing hard things can make achieving our goals feel better, as we know we’ve put in hard work to get there.

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26. "You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort and money into training." — Tom Hopkins, sales leader

People are your greatest resource. You spend money to recruit, hire, and onboard new candidates — but you shouldn’t stop there.

Training helps your employees improve and gain confidence. It increases job satisfaction and elevates your company’s reputation among customers and potential employees.

Cut costs where you must but refuse to sacrifice training for your team.

27. "There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, there are no limits." — Michael Phelps, Olympic swimmer

famous hard work quotes - michael phelpsOur tendency toward instant gratification sometimes undermines our best efforts.

Colonel Harland Sanders was old enough to retire when he landed a deal to sell his chicken for a nickel a piece. He then franchised his chicken idea and eventually sold the franchise for $2 million.

Legend claims he was rejected 1,009 times before he found success. Sanders' restaurant career started when he was 40, and more than 20 years passed before he found financial success.

Do not impose limits on yourself.

28. "I can say the willingness to get dirty has always defined us as a nation, and it's a hallmark of hard work and a hallmark of fun, and dirt is not the enemy." — Mike Rowe, actor, and producer

Perhaps we’ve become too comfortable in our jobs and less confident in our own abilities. Don’t be afraid to get dirty.

29. "It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up." — Babe Ruth, former professional baseball player

famous hard work quotes - babe ruthThe path to success can make us feel as though we’re being beaten, especially if the path comes with failures.

In reality, the only thing that can have us beat is giving up. We can stand to learn something from our failures, and when we don’t give up, they instead become stepping stones to future success.

30. "Do or do not. There is no try." — Yoda

Yoda offers his blunt, but effective wisdom to Luke Skywalker in response to Skywalker saying “I’ll try.” To achieve goals, people have to take the plunge and fully commit.

Motivational Quotes About Hard Work

31. "Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment."  — Oprah Winfrey, media mogul

famous hard work quotes - oprahSometimes doing the best we can, even if not perfect, is what sets us up for success in our next venture.

32. "I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed." — Michael Jordan, Black professional basketball player

Michael Jordan is a basketball player, well known throughout his career for being a successful shooting guard.

However, even though he achieved success, it still came along with missed shots and lost games — which he credits as the reasons why he succeeded.

33. "There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it, for whatever success I have attained has been the result of much hard work and many sleepless nights." — Madam C.J. Walker, Black entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist

GettyImages-160291958The road to success isn’t a diamond-pleated catwalk, despite how nice that would be. It requires hard work, and sometimes sleepless nights.

34. "If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it." — Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX

famous hard work quotes - elon musk

Entrepreneurship is important. Entrepreneurs create new businesses, introduce new jobs, develop communities, and start social change. Smartphones, for example, have revolutionized the world economy.

They've even spread to countries not considered wealthy by world standards. And they've empowered entrepreneurs in underdeveloped countries to wade into the marketplace.

Never stop doing important work.

35. "The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses — behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights." — Muhammad Ali, Black professional boxer and activist

Every conversation has the potential to be a career-changing opportunity. No matter what industry you’re in, there are likely parts of your process you don’t enjoy.

It’s easy to motivate yourself to work hard on the parts of your job that naturally lend themselves to a payday. It’s also easy to forget the less-important parts of your job also contribute to your organization’s earning potential.

Don’t overlook the behind-the-scenes work in pursuit of the high-profile stuff. It’s all-important.

36. "If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." — Josh Billings, humorist

famous hard work quotes - josh billings

Over time, many entrepreneurs find their passion for the business fades. Long hours, demanding schedules, and work-life imbalance likely contribute to a sense of loss.

Expect your passion to wane, but don’t ignore the situation. The moments of doubt will make you appreciate the moments of unbridled joy even more.

37. "We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success." — Arianna Huffington, author, and co-founder of The Huffington Post

Sometimes we work really hard at something and find that we’ve made a wrong decision. It’s disheartening, but it’s not the end of the world. As Huffington says, we should view wrong decisions and failures as key pillars of our journey towards making the right decisions.

38. "Obstacles can't stop you. Problems can't stop you. Most of all, other people can't stop you. Only you can stop you." — Jeffrey Gitomer, author, speaker, and business trainer

famous hard work quotes - jeffrey gitomer

Most of us are painfully unaware of the self-limiting thoughts we harbor. Once we adopt a negative belief about ourselves, we tend to ignore evidence that it’s incorrect and embrace evidence that suggests it’s true. In other words, we double down on negative thoughts.

When you identify a self-limiting thought, use the "Five Whys" practice to drill down to the source of the belief. Refuse to be your own worst enemy.

39. "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." — Charles R. Swindoll, author and educator

The path towards success is never a straight-shot. But with the right attitude, you can overcome any misstep or obstacle. Attitude, then, is greater than failure or circumstance.

40. "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." — Thomas Edison, inventor

hard work quotes - thomas edison

Anyone can be patient and understanding when things are going well and life is good. But when adversity comes knocking, our true character is tested. Don’t let obstacles knock the wind out of your sail or cause you to sink into negative thinking.

41. "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." — Arthur Ashe, tennis player

When Arthur Ashe first picked up a tennis racket at seven, do you think he was ready to win a Grand Slam? Not quite. In fact, due to his slight build, his childhood nicknames were "Skinny" and "Bones."

So how did he win his first Grand Slam 18 years later? Most notably, he was willing to be a beginner. After all, it's often the doing that is more important than the outcome.

By fine-tuning his craft — and learning hard lessons about composure and perseverance along the way — he became one of the most prominent tennis figures of his generation.

Quotes About Hard Work and Success

42. "Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations." — Dr. Mae Jemison, first Black female astronaut

hard work quotes - dr. mae jemisonThe work you do should be based on you and how you want to be successful. Don’t quantify your abilities based on what others do — set your own limits and expectations, and go from there.

43. "Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all." — Dale Carnegie, author, and lecturer

A recent study by Statistic Brain revealed 50% of U.S. companies fail after five years and 70% fail after 10 years.

Why do some businesses succeed while others fail? Successful companies have leaders who stay the course despite struggles — leaders who value patience and persistence.

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44. "You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day." — Marian Wright Edelman, Black activist for children's rights

Consider this: we’re not always obligated to win. Instead, we should feel like we’re succeeding based on the fact that we get up every day and do the best we can do.

45. "Success isn't always about greatness. It's about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come." — Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, actor

hard work quotes - dwayne 'the rock' johnsonConsistency allows you to measure your progress. It allows you to create accountability and spread your message.

Don’t give up on an idea or a process before you’ve had time to practice it consistently. Many entrepreneurs allow six months to determine whether a concept is effective.

Pursue consistency before greatness.

46."The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." — Thomas Paine, American Founding Father

Conflict occurs when you employ different people with unique personalities and ideas. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be bad.

When you address conflict, you help people feel as though their concerns are heard. Consensus increases, communication improves, and relationships grow. Don’t avoid conflict. Address it quickly and fairly to see its benefits.

47. "Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts." — Winston S. Churchill, former Prime Minister


Success doesn’t have to be our final stage. We can always continue innovating, learning, and discovering new things, but this takes courage, whether you’ve experienced failure or already succeeded.

48. "When you do more than you’ paid for, eventually you’ll be paid for more than you do." — Zig Ziglar, author and motivational speaker

A baseball coach I know once told his players to "always be looking for work." Never stand flat-footed while the ball is in play. Instead, find a way to contribute to the team.

Create a culture that encourages people to prioritize team success. When someone else has a good idea, do everything you can to promote and support it. Seek ways to contribute to the concept even if it isn’t your responsibility.

Your leadership will appreciate your initiative. And your coworkers will likely respond in kind when it’s your project.

49. "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary." — Vidal Sassoon, hairdressing business tycoon

hard work quotes - vidal sassoonGoals don’t self-actualize on their own. Entrepreneurs have to work hard to achieve their success — unless you’re living in a dictionary.

50. "If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, `Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well." — Martin Luther King, Jr., Black Baptist minister and activist

Businesses live and die on the backs of the people who work there. Celebrate the people in your company who do the tasks that are often overlooked. The administrative assistants, janitorial staff, and mailroom people, to name a few.

When you acknowledge their importance, you inspire them to work hard for the good of the team. Do this for everyone who works in your organization.

51. "Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success." — Dale Carnegie, author and lecturer

Reaching success sometimes means climbing over rocks. If you’re discouraged by these rocks, try viewing them as stepping stones that will help you reach the top of the mountain.

52. "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." — Colin Powell, first Black Secretary of State

hard work quotes - colin powell

"The secret to success," is an oft-mentioned phrase. While some may claim to have the answer, the only secret is, as Colin Powell says, that it takes preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

53. "If you start thinking you are good at something, that's often the day you stop trying to be better and open the back door for someone to come after you. That's why we always aim higher. We never feel like we're done." — Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox

Kodak was founded in 1880 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2012. The move was likely a result of the company’s failure to acknowledge the move toward digital photography.

Oprah Winfrey’s television channel — launched in 2012 — has yet to produce significant ratings and is struggling to stay afloat.

No one is immune from the evolving marketplace. There are plenty of people out there who will gladly take your place if you choose to stop evolving.

Never stop improving.

54. "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed." — Booker T. Washington, Black author and educator

hard work quotes - booker t washington

Quotes About Perseverance and Hard Work

55. "He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying." Nietzsche, philosopher

Patience is a necessary part of perseverance. As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day. Instead, it is the culmination of smaller efforts.

56. "Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other." Walter Elliot, British politician

hard work quotes - walter elliotWhen you view setbacks as opportunities to evolve and get better, perseverance becomes an integral part of your life — without you really knowing it.

57. "A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn." Helen Keller, author, disability rights advocate, political activist

Failure is an unavoidable — albeit painful — part of entrepreneurialship. But failure doesn't mean it's the end of the road. It could be an opportunity to grow, evolve, and innovate.

58. "If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all." Michelangelo, sculptor and painter

hard work quotes - michelangelo

It's a common fallacy to believe that talented people are just born that way. In reality, it takes dedication and years of practice — we just witness the final form of hard work.

59. "Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out." Robert Collier, author

And here's Aristotle with the lay-up: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."

60. "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." Albert Einstein, physicist

hard work quotes - albert einstein

This is a modest statement, especially coming from the developer of the theory of relativity. Yet, the sentiment still rings true: being passionately curious will lead you to great revelations.

61. "As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being redirected to something better." Dr. Steve Maraboli, author and public speaker

When it comes to setbacks, mindset is everything. Rather than indulge in failure and self-destructive thoughts, you can tap into your reserves of courage to rebuild and try again.

62. "Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat." F. Scott Fitzgerald, author

hard work quotes - f. scott fitzgeraldWe think of successful people as winners. In truth, they're winners because they don't win all the time. They fall down, but keep getting back up.

63. “If you're in a job that you hate, don't be scared of seeking out something that might be riskier. Anything can turn into something with passion and hard work.” — Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble

Whitney Wolfe Herd founded Bumble in 2014 after serving as vice president of marketing at Tinder. “I saw a problem I wanted to help solve,” 

Wolfe Herd said. “For all the advances women had been making in workplaces and corridors of power, the gender dynamics of dating and romance still seemed so outdated. I thought, what if I could flip that on its head? What if women made the first move, and sent the first message?” She took a risk and left Tinder to found her own dating app — and judging by the 100 million users Bumble boasts, the risk was worth it.

64. “Don't run before you can crawl. It's a very hard business, full of many, many extremely creative, talented people who work hard and still fail. If you have the basic building blocks behind you, you're much more likely to do well.” — Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue

GettyImages-sb10062194j-007Anna Wintour is well-known for her contributions to the fashion industry, serving as editor in chief of American Vogue magazine since 1988. It’s no easy task to be at the helm of the “fashion bible” and wield that power to influence change in the fashion industry. However, it took years of hard work for Wintour to get to that position — she started out as an editor at London’s Evening Standard newspaper, took on a fashion assistant role at Harper’s & Queen magazine, then worked her way up as fashion editor at various New York-based magazines before landing the coveted editor position at British Vogue. 

65. “It’s so freeing, it’s beautiful in a way, to have a great failure, there’s nowhere to go but up.” — David Lynch, co-creater of Twin Peaks

Filmmaker David Lynch talks about embracing failure and using it as an opportunity for learning and success, rather than letting it drag you down.

66. “If you are patient...and wait long enough...Nothing will happen” — Jim Davis creator of Garfield

Though the Garfield comic strip revolves around a leisure and lasagna-loving cat, Jim Davis has a more proactive mindset. 

67. "Without labor, nothing prospers." — Sophocles 

Even Greek writer and philosopher Sophocles noted that nothing can be achieved without making an effort.

68. "Great companies are built in the office, with hard work put in by a team." — Emily Chang

Journalist Emily Chang states that a company’s success depends on collective hard work. 

69. "If you love your work, you’ll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you – like a fever. " —  Sam Walton

Businessman Sam Walton founded retailers Sam’s Club and Walmart. He says that having passion for your work is contagious and positively affects people around you.

70. "The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action." — Alexander Graham Bell

Stuck in a rut? Take inventor Alexander Graham Bell’s advice and make the first step. 

Start Achieving Your Goals Now

Success doesn’t come easy, but it’ll be so much sweeter when it comes. In the future, your own story of overcoming obstacles might encourage other entrepreneurs. Your hard-fought wisdom will benefit someone else.



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