Lists of inspirational quotes for women often read like hokey “Chicken Soup for the Soul” style filler – hardly applicable to the strong, intelligent entrepreneurial women that we know. But inspirational quotes can actually be great motivators, if they’re the right ones. So we’ve decided to reclaim the genre in a way that’s actually helpful and relevant to women in business. Think of this list as a sort of “Shot of Whiskey for Entrepreneurial Women’s Soul” – something to ease your mind and inspire you to kick ass at the same time.
Starting your own business is a risky and often stressful endeavor, but the fear of failure can be particularly strong for female entrepreneurs. As studies have shown, women, due to a lifetime of social conditioning, tend to be more risk-averse than men. But the good news is that we can undo all that negative conditioning. So make like Mae West and be “the type of girl who climbs the ladder wrong by wrong.” There’s no shame in that, and you’ll eventually get it right.
1. “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde
2. “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
3. “People don’t take opportunities because the timing is bad, the financial side unsecure. Too many people are overanalyzing. Sometimes you just have to go for it.” – Michelle Zatlyn, Co-founder of CloudFlare
4.“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
5. “Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as a survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science; it’s about trading: buying and selling.” – Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop
Finding Your Voice and Vision – Tougher Than You May Think for Some Entrepreneurial Women
A recent study published in American Political Science Review found that in collaborative group settings, “the time that women spoke was significantly less than their proportional representation – amounting to less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke.” Now we’re not scientists, but this looks like good ol’ social conditioning once again. Men are encouraged to speak up and to be assertive, and women are not. But a woman with entrepreneurial aspirations must make herself heard. If you don’t speak up, you won’t go anywhere, and no one will see your vision – including (probably) you yourself.
6. “Next time, ask: what’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end … And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you … And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” – Audre Lorde
7. “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” – Coco Chanel
8. “I’m tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” – Madonna
9. “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” – Melinda Gates
10. “Walt Disney told his crew to ‘build the castle first’ when constructing Disney World, knowing that vision would continue to serve as motivation throughout the project. Oftentimes when people fail to achieve what they want in life, it’s because their vision isn’t strong enough.” – Gail Blanke, President and CEO, Lifedesigns
Troublemakers and Free Thinkers
Sick of playing politics, working hard and receiving too little in return for their efforts, many entrepreneurial women have ditched the restrictive corporate world to pursue their dreams on their own terms. What this means is that if you’ve taken the initiative to start your own company, it’s probably because you’ve got an independent and tenacious streak. We’ll toast to that.
11. “So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.” – Caterina Fake, Co-founder, Flickr
12. “Making the decision to not follow a system, or someone else’s rules has allowed me to really dig into what my own strengths and gifts are without spending time feeling jaded or wasteful.” – Ishita Gupta, founder of Fear.less Magazine
13. “Expect the unexpected, and whenever possible, be the unexpected.” – Lynda Barry
14. ”The glass ceiling that once limited a woman’s career path has paved a new road towards business ownership, where women can utilize their sharp business acumen while building strong family ties.” – Erica Nicole, who left Corporate America to start YFS Magazine.
15. “Entrepreneurship is the last refuge of the troublemaking individual.” – Natalie Clifford Barney
Hard Work (Something Women In Business Know a LOT About)
Of course, good old-fashioned hard work always pays off, whether you’re a man or a woman. But if you’re an entrepreneurial woman, be prepared to work extra hard.
16. “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” – Maya Angelou
17. “There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it, for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.” – Madam C.J. Walker, America's first female entrepreneur millionaire
18. “You’re not in competition with other women. You’re in competition with everyone.” – Tina Fey
19. “Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou
20. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Go Forth and Kick Ass!
Feeling inspired yet? You should be. Now, take in these last little bits of wisdom and go conquer the world.
21. “Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” – Anaïs Nin
22. “I’m not a businessman — I’m a business, man.” – Jay-Z
23. “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” – Roseanne Barr
24. “Don’t just stand for the success of other women – insist on it.” – Gail Blanke, President and CEO, Lifedesigns
25. “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” – Madeleine Albright
We hope this compilation of quotes puts a little fire in your heart whether you’re a man or a woman, but especially if you’re a woman. Because like CEO Gail Blanke, we at The Content Factory don’t just stand for the success of women – we insist on it.
If you liked these quotes, you'll love the video clips in one of our favorite blog posts ever: 7 Things 'Designing Women' Taught Us About Female Entrepreneurship. Julia Sugarbaker is a role model and an inspiration for women in business everywhere.
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