You can search for wisdom anywhere, but one of the best places to find it is with people with experience.
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…” – T. Roosevelt
In this article, we cite and elaborate on 10 popular quotes that distill the wisdom of some of the most successful startup founders in the world.
“Any time is a good time to start a company.” -Ron Conway, Investor
In the world of startups, ideas are cheap. What actually counts is action.
It’s easy to find an excuse for why you shouldn’t start your project right now. Macroeconomic conditions, lack of free time, etc. Playing this game, however, is a great way to make sure you never start.
Use this quote as an inspiration to take the first steps, however small, towards executing your idea.
“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” -Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Another great quote to get you started. If you feel the same way as Jeff Bezos about your project, then it’s a no-brainer you should give your idea a try. If you don’t and you’re too afraid of failure – then maybe you haven’t found an idea that excites you enough yet, and waiting might be the better option.
“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” —Drew Houston, Dropbox
This is a reality you would simply have to deal with. Startups are extremely risky. Most ideas don’t work out. That is why it is important to plan for failure – fail fast, fail cheap, and make sure you get to the one time you are right as fast as possible.
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” -Steve Jobs, Apple
And on the topic of failure, the best way to deal with it is through perseverance. Of course, this doesn’t mean doing what doesn’t work over and over again hoping for a miracle. It means constantly iterating, pivoting, and tackling the problem you’re trying to solve from another angle.
“The secret to successful hiring is this: look for the people who want to change the world.” —Marc Benioff, Salesforce
Attracting and keeping top startup talent is a complex task. What Benioff does is single out the biggest competitive advantage startups have in the hiring game. As a startup project, you probably cannot offer the highest pay or the highest security. What you can offer, however, is meaningful work with the potential for a huge impact on the world. Use this to your advantage.
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” —Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn
As a founder, it’s very tempting to try to get everything perfect before you show it to the world. This attitude, however, would lead you to over-invest in the first version of your product that hasn’t been tested against real users yet. Instead, you should suppress your sense of perfectionism and involve your customers in the building process.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” -Bill Gates, Microsoft
This quote explains one of the reasons why the Reid Hoffman quote from above is true. You cannot learn behind closed doors. If you are building an innovative product, then you desperately need customer feedback. And people who are dissatisfied with your offering have some of the most valuable feedback.
“Don’t be cocky. Don’t be flashy. There’s always someone better than you.” —Tony Hsieh, Zappos
It’s hard to succeed in the startup world, which is full of some of the smartest people in the world, without enough humility and self-knowledge.
Of course, carrying yourself humbly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have self-confidence. Without it, it would be very difficult to find the aforementioned perseverance.
“Always deliver more than expected.” -Larry Page, Google
As an early-stage startup founder you are in the business of selling dreams. In essence, your key to success is to convince high-quality people that your undertaking has extremely high future potential.
In this environment, it’s very easy to over-sell and under-deliver. While in some circumstances this is inevitable, walking the extra mile when it is possible makes a great impression.
“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” -Wayne Gretzy, Hockey Star
This non-startup quote is, in fact, highly applicable to startups. Timing is important. It’s one of the crucial factors to startup success.