Even the most dedicated entrepreneur sometimes finds it tough to stay on track. You’ll battle things beyond your control and encounter issues you couldn’t have predicted. So, how do you keep your eyes on the prize? How do you make sure the struggle doesn’t divert you from your ultimate goal?
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.
Quotes About Hard Work
1. “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.
2. “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.
3. “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 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.
4. “If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.” -Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX
Entrepreneurship is important. Entrepreneurs create new business, 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.
5. “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” -Coco Chanel, fashion designer
It’s also true 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.
6. "I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.” -Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the U.S.
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 changed their lives for the better. Be willing to make the challenging calls and push through the difficult times.
7. “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
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. We fail to acknowledge overnight successes usually didn’t happen overnight.
The Internet has made it easy to launch a business -- building an empire is a different story. Avoid procrastination and be willing to sacrifice for success.
8. "Success isn't always about greatness. It's about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” -Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, actor
Consistency 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.
9. “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” -Josh Billings, humorist
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.
10. "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.
11. “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.
12. “On any given Monday I am one sale closer and one idea away from being a millionaire.” -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.
From a nearby boat, her mother encouraged her to keep going because she was close to her goal. Chadwick stopped swimming a half mile from her goal. Fog obscured the shoreline and she didn’t realize how close the finish was.
When you can’t see the shoreline, keep working. You’re likely closer than you think.
13. “There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, there are no limits.” -Michael Phelps, Olympic swimmer
Our 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.
14. “When you do more than you’re 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.
15. “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” -George Bernard Shaw, playwright
Experienced businesspeople distinguish between pessimists and defeatists. Pessimists might have the right idea. They’re 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.
16. “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
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.
17. “The only thing standing between you and outrageous success is continuous progress.” -Dan Waldschmidt, business strategist
Very often, we fail to act on an idea or a concept because it isn’t yet perfect. We fail to realize that “imperfectly done is better than perfectly planned.”
Stated a simpler way, imperfect and done is better than perfect but undone. While it’s good to do your best work, it’s worthless to allow the fear of imperfection to paralyze you.
Strive to make continuous progress, even when it isn’t perfect.
18. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” -Tim Notke, basketball coach
Most of us agree talent matters. In fact, many experts dispute the notion 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.
19. "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
It’s interesting to note Americans work more hours than people in many other countries. They take fewer vacation days but don’t often see the fruits of their labor. Immigrants, on the other hand, come to this country and often find financial success.
Why the disconnect?
In many cases, Americans’ work has changed. We do less physical labor and more intellectual work. Perhaps we’ve become too comfortable in our jobs and less confident in our own abilities. Don’t be afraid to get dirty.
20. "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, boxer
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 pay day. 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.
21. "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., Baptist minister and activist
Businesses live and die on the backs of the people who work there. It’s no secret all the talent in the world won’t overcome a toxic culture or shoddy work.
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.
22. “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
The line between perseverance and insanity looks mighty thin. What do you do when it’s time to change course because the concept you’re pursuing isn’t working?
Refuse to live in denial about what’s happening and seek help from others who are less emotionally tied to the venture. It’s O.K. to acknowledge that something isn’t working.
Keep moving, whichever direction you choose.
23. "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.
24. “If your teacher, coach, or mentor believes you can do something, you’re more likely to do it.” -Gwen Moran, FastCompany
We’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.
In the future, your own story of overcoming obstacles might encourage other entrepreneurs. Your hard-fought wisdom will benefit someone else.