We thought our clients and readers could use a little encouragement, so we chose 101 of our favorite motivational quotes for small and mid-size business (SMB) owners.

Running a business usually means working long hours. You may describe it as a labor of love. But even the hardiest, most dedicated businesspeople can benefit from some motivating words—personally, professionally, and as a leader. The following 101 Motivational Quotes may be just what you need.

Which are your favorites?

More Inspiring Ideas

One of our most trafficked blogs is  65 Inspiring Social Media Content Ideas, but we noticed that our engagement rates weren’t as high as we would expect. We surmised that our readers, company owners, marketing leaders, and other businessmen and women, might be looking for inspirational quotes rather than inspiration about what to post on social media. And the following 101 favorite motivational quotes were born.

10 Motivational Quotes When Work Is Stressful

As an SMB owner, some days go smoothly, but others. . . well, they go otherwise. Here are 10 motivational thoughts on days when you’re sailing on rough seas.

“Growth comes from chaos, not order.”

– Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, businessman

“Every problem is a gift. Without problems, we would not grow.”

– Tony Robbins, motivational speaker

“A good way to overcome stress is to help others out of theirs.”

– Dada J. Vaswani, Indian spiritual leader

“Worry is a misuse of imagination.”

– Unknown

work is stressful papers all over table

“Growth comes from chaos…”

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”

– Sigmund Freud, neurologist, founder of psychoanalysis

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

– Henry Ford, American industrialist

“What challenges are you facing this week? How might this be calling you to expand?”

– Deborah Petropoulos, life coach

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

– Helen Keller, American writer

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

– Dr. Robert Schuller, American televangelist

quotes when work is stressful wrestling an alligator

“Tough times never last.”

5 Inspirational Quotes When You’re Kicking Yourself

Business owners can be particularly hard on themselves. Here are five inspirational thoughts when you mess up or blame yourself.

“Never let success get to your head and never let failure get to your heart.” ”

– Drake, Canadian rapper

“Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom.”

William George Jordan, writer/editor

“Don’t carry your mistakes around with you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones to rise above them. ”

– Anonymous

Cliff in Devil's Lake Wisconsin

“Never let failure go to your heart.”

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”

– Dale Carnegie, American writer

“Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.”

– Stephen King, author

7 Quotes When You Get That Nasty Email or Text

After all these years of email and texts, you’d think that passive-aggressive communications would have gone the way of floppy disks. But as has proved out in recent weeks . . . apparently not. Here are five thoughts—when a nasty-gram comes your way. Or your tempted to send one back to the originator.

“Be a positive energy trampoline—absorb what you need and rebound more back.”

 –Dave Carolan, international presenter and consultant

tug of war on mountain

“Impulse is your enemy.”

“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist

“Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy.”

–John C. Bogle, businessman

“Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality. Never sacrifice who you are because someone else has a problem with it.”

– Les Brown, motivational speaker, author

“Temptation [is when] the wrong thing seems right at the time.”

– Jiminy Cricket, deuteragonist of Pinocchio

“Be the better person. Rise above it.”

– Nancy Burgess, Agency Owner

“Never disrespect anyone. Pride comes before a thunderous fall.” 

– Don Santo, musical artist

rushing water for a thunderous fall

“Pride comes before a thunderous fall.”

10 Motivational Quotes When You Want to Fire Up Your Passion

Ready to conquer the world? Here are five “any-day” inspirational thoughts to help light your fire.

“The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.”

– Oprah Winfrey, television host

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

– Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th U.S. president

waves on Lake Michigan beach representing passion

“Energy creates energy.”

“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”

– Roger Staubach, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback

“Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”

– Sarah Bernhardt, French actress

“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.”

–Estée Lauder, cofounder of Estée Lauder

no traffic jams on the extra mile lonely stretch of beach Rock Island, Wisconsin

“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”

“Your value will be not what you know; it will be what you share.”

– Ginni Rometty, former president and CEO of IBM

“To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.”

– Thomas Watson, Sr., former chairman and CEO of IBM

“Opportunities don’t happen; you create them.”

–  Chris Grosser, Realtor

“Do what you love, and success will follow. Passion is the fuel behind a successful career.”

–  Meg Whitman, Former President & CEO of HP

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. To find your gift is happiness.”

– Terry Pratchett, English humorist, satirist, and author

5 Inspirational Quotes When It’s Decision Time

When you need to make a business decision, do you use your heart, head, or gut? Here’s some food for thought when you have to make a big decision.

“More is lost by indecision than wrong decision.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero, philosopher

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears”

– Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa

path splits in Bluffton South Carolina for decision

“You always have a choice…”

“We cannot solve problems with the kind of thinking we employed when we came up with them.”

 – Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist

“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, Greek-American author, founder of the Huffington Post, founder and CEO of Thrive Global 

You always have a choice. Don’t confuse ‘having no choice’ with not having the choices that you want.”

– Author Unknown

5 Motivational Thoughts When Your Get-Up-and-Go Got Up and Went

Sometimes we all get a “case of the Mondays.” Here’s a little caffeine to win back your mojo.

tortoise get up and go went

“Quotes for when your get-up-and-go got up and went. . .” Is there a “frog” you’re ignoring?

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”

– Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker

“It’s not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”

– Bruce Lee, American martial artist

“The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves.”

– Barbara Corcoran, American businesswoman

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

– Mark Twain, Author, humorist

“Don’t be a time manager, be a priority manager. Cut your major goals into bite-sized pieces. Each small priority or requirement on the way to the ultimate goal becomes a mini goal itself.”

– Denis Waitley, American motivational speaker

10 Motivational Quotes When You Need to Rally the Troops

Leading people can be challenging, here are five inspirational thoughts for those times when you need to motivate the troops.

“Treat employees like they make a difference, and they will.”

– Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS Institute

intertwined ropes show strength

“Alone we can do so little; together we can so so much.”

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping it together is progress. Working together is success.”

– Henry Ford, American industrialist

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”

 –  Steve Jobs, co-founder, former CEO of Apple

“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.”

–  Paul Hawken, Environmentalist

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

–  Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he* can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his* money somewhere else.”

– Sam Walton, American businessman
*editors note: she, her

“Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.”

–  Steve Jobs, co-founder, former CEO of Apple

poppies growing

“Success is about growing others.”

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

– Helen Keller, writer

“It’s better to have a great team than a team of greats.”

–  Simon Sinek, author, inspirational speaker

“Leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders.”

–  Tom Peters, businessman

5 Motivating Saying When You Need a Creative Boost

As business owners, we need to look at strategy and long-term goals.  That means taking time to imagine and reimagine. It means taking the time to be creative.

oil painting by nancy burgess to represent poppies of van gogh

“Imagination encircles the world.”

“Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

– Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist

“Live out of your imagination, not your history.”

– Stephen Covey, author and educator

“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”

– Gloria Steinem, American journalist

“At the end of the day, you are the only one that is limiting your ability to dream or to actually execute on your dreams. Don’t let yourself get in the way of that.”

–Falon Fatemi, Cofounder, CEO of Fireside

“To break with the status quo, and think differently, schedule a creative session. Take a break. Walk. Daydream it. Meditate on it. Walk away from the day-to-day operations.”

 – Nancy Burgess

5 Motivational Thoughts When You Want to Find the Deeper Meaning

Each day, step back and immerse yourself in finding meaning and purpose with these big ideas.

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.”

– Angela Davis, political activist

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

– Sergey Brin, co-founder, Google

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

– Zig Ziglar, American author, salesman, and motivational speaker


deeper meaning orb of light in hands

“…act as if it were possible to radiacally transform the world.”

“Let us continue the work together and with others, toward the development of a better womanhood, a better manhood, and a better citizenship.”

– Violet Richardson Ward, American educator

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist

10 Inspirational Quotes When Rainy Days and Mondays Get You Down

Leading people can be challenging, here are five inspirational thoughts for those times when you need to motivate the troops.

“You can dread the rain, or you can love it. The choice is yours. Learn to look forward to things you used to dread. See them differently.”

– Unknown

“When life gets ya down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming…”

– Dory, blue tang Finding Nemo

“No amount of regret changes the past. No amount of anxiety changes the future. Any amount of gratitude changes the present.”

– Ann Voskamp, Canadian author

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

– Dolly Parton, singer-songwriter

Turtle just keep swimming South Carolina

“Just keep swimming.”

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”

– Vivian Greene, singer-songwriter

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

– Winston S Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

“Not seeing results? Feel like giving up? Consider this: the last thing to grow on a fruit tree is the fruit. You want that fruit; you gotta stay after it.”

– Tom Bilyeu, co-founder of Quest Nutrition, host of Impact Theory, YouTuber

“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.”

– Bernard Baruch, businessman

“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it.”

– Jonathan Winters, comedian

“The difference between hope and despair is a good night’s sleep.”

– Nancy’s mother

inspiration from the cross of new life at holy family church inverness il

“It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

8 Healing Quotes When You’ve Been Mansplained, Discounted, or Stepped on.

‘Nuff said.

“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.”

– Dhirubhai Ambani, founder, Reliance Industries

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States

“Lean in.”

– Sheryl Sandberg, former Meta COO, author

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

– Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani educational activist

young girl climbing ropes

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

– Shirley Chisholm, former U.S. Representative

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

– Maya Angelou, memoirist

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

– Anais Nin, diarist

“They’ll tell you you’re too loud, that you need to wait your turn and ask the right people for permission. Do it anyway.”

– Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Representative

5 Motivational Thoughts on the Value of Listening

Sometimes it’s just time to get over yourself and rely on others. What better way to do that than listening to those whose opinions you value! At the same time, always remember to listen to that still, small voice within you.

“It’s okay to admit what you don’t know. It’s okay to ask for help. And it’s more than okay to listen to the people you lead—in fact, it’s essential.”

– Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors

“Stay true to yourself and your vision. Don’t let any one person’s opinion move you; listen, but be confident.”

– Amanda Kahlow, Founder, former CEO of 6sense

“One of the best things you can do is stop and listen; that’s why it’s good to not just immediately respond when someone talks to you. Just stop and make sure you internalized what they said.”

– Lori Richardson, Author She Sells, President, Score More Sales

young women with young children

“…never be too big to ask questions. . .”

“Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.”

– Augustine “Og” Mandino III, American author

“Heed the still small voice that so seldom leads us wrong, and never into folly.”

– Marie Anne de Vichy-Chamrod, marquise du DeffanFrench patron of fashion and literature

10 Motivational Thoughts About the Journey

Trying to push that boulder uphill?  Looking for that brass ring? Maybe you’ve had it all along.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

– Lao Tzu, Chinese Taoist philosopher

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

–  Buddha

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth comes while you’re climbing it.”

– Andy Rooney, broadcast journalist

“Success isn’t about the end result; it’s about what you learn along the way.”

– Vera Wang, American Fashion Designer

journey-bottom-of the-flat-irons-boulder-colorado

The foot of the flat irons in Boulder, Colorado: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

“Keep your head up. Take your time. Be proud of yourself. Always remember: You are right where you’re supposed to be.”

– Unknown

“Trying to do it all and expecting it all can be done exactly right is a recipe for disappointment. Perfection is the enemy.”

– Sheryl Sandberg, former Meta COO, author

“Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”

– Coco Chanel, French fashion designer, founder Chanel

“I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.”

– Virginia Rometty, former president and CEO of IBM

Nancy Burgess near the top of the flat irons in Boulder Colorado

Near the top of the flat irons in Boulder, Colorado. “Always remember: you are right where you’re supposed to be.”

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”

– Marissa Mayer, former president and CEO of Yahoo!

“Be an amateur. Not everything you do has to be good, especially at first.”

– Ann Handley, author, partner at MarketingProfs, Founder of ClickZ

5 Quotes to Settle an Anxious Mind

Each day, step back and immerse yourself in finding meaning and purpose with these big ideas.

“Don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”

– Michelle Obama

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

– Dale Carnegie

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

– Nelson Mandela

lighted candles to soothe anxiety

“You can do anything, but not everything.”

“You can do anything, but not everything.”

– David Allen, productivity consultant

“It’s okay to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.”

– Mandy Hale, blogger turned author

Bonus: For Anyone Who Survived It or Is Surviving It

“Surviving. Someone asked how I survived it, and I said, I haven’t yet. I walked your path. . . for so long, and I am still trying to find my way back to mine.

This part is unpaved, uncharted; compasses don’t work in here. I am still in the woods, but sunlight is leaking through the leaves, it’s not just dark all the time anymore.

I have not survived it, no, but I am every day surviving it.”

–  Kristina Mahr, writer

Nancy Burgess

Nancy Burgess is the owner of Nancy Burgess Strategic Marketing, a marketing consulting firm and online agency. In that role, she integrates her corporate success as a digital marketer along with her marketing agency experience in marketing communications and branding to help businesses prosper. Nancy's specialties are search engine optimization (SEO) and content creation. She graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, holds a master's degree, and also multiple marketing certificates from DePaul University's graduate school. She is a frequent presenter on SEO strategies and has worked in digital marketing since the late 1990s. As someone who can strategize AND execute, Nancy offers digital and traditional marketing services to SMBs. Agency value without agency fees. Along with SEO and content strategies, Nancy's agency offers website design, marketing automation, integrated marketing strategies, and branding to her clients.