- Twenty-five business owners from around the world share their resolutions and favorite quotes.
- Get inspired and set actionable goals for 2021.
- Find out what other business owners are thinking about in the coming year.
- This article is for small business owners and entrepreneurs who want inspiration for their New Year’s goals.
For entrepreneurs, New Year’s resolutions often focus on business aspirations and success, but that’s not all business owners are thinking about going into 2021. We heard from hundreds of business owners from around the world who shared their resolutions for the new year as well as their favorite inspirational quotes to keep them motivated.
Feeling ready to be inspired by other small business owners like you? Here are25 of our favorite inspirational quotes for business leaders in 2021.
1. “Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up.” – Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.
David Deaton, CEO and founder of Deaton Group, said his New Year’s resolution is increasing the value he offers to smaller clients and providing more budget-focused offerings. After growing the size of his deals in 2020, he finally has the opportunity to circle back to smaller clients and give them the help they need. Jackson’s quote that inspires him because it is all about collaboration.
“As an entrepreneur, this is a very important quote for me because how we collaborate and partner and help others looking to build their way is very important to being successful.”
2. “Done is better than perfect.” – Sheryl Sandberg
Francis Mariela, president and owner of Francis Mariela Communications, has always been a perfectionist but has recently found that flexibility is crucial. Her job requires her to find innovative solutions for her clients; her New Year’s resolution is to continue being flexible.
“So many times, we place perfection above all else, and it leaves no room for flexibility. Sometimes, completing a project is better than the imaginary perfection we want out of it. As professionals, we all go into a project thinking about how ideal it would be if we could complete it in just the right amount of time with the right budget and to our specifications. However, we have to always account for what our client wants above all else and marry that to our expertise to get the right outcome that fits the project in the best possible way. This isn’t always perfection in a publicist’s eyes, but it should be; it is literally delivering the best of us to receive the best the project can offer.”
3. “You never fail until you stop trying” – Albert Einstein
Jonathan Javier, founder and CEO of Wonsulting, said his New Year’s resolution is to impact millions of job seekers in landing jobs and internships in 2021. Javier has already helped tens of thousands of job seekers coming from non-target schools and non-traditional backgrounds, and he hopes to continue making a difference in the world in the new year. He plans to use this Albert Einstein quote to stay motivated.
“This is my favorite quote, because if you keep working hard in everything you do, it will all come to fruition. When COVID-19 happened, it affected my business, and I thought it was the end. However, it was only the beginning, as we were able to pivot and make it into a profitable business, which led to me leaving the corporate world to pursue entrepreneurship full time.”
4. “There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.” – Stephen Hawking
Kevin Groh is the co-founder of Cachi Life, a travel company that focuses on changing how travelers experience Peru and giving back to the local communities. For the past eight months, Peruvian tour guides haven’t worked due to the country’s border restrictions. However, now that the borders have reopened, his New Year’s resolution is to get all of his Peruvian tour guides back to work so they can help provide for their families.
“I like this quote because it reminds us no matter how difficult things may seem, or how beaten down we may be, as long as we are breathing there is something we can do to improve our, or someone else’s, situation. And with that little reminder, anything can be possible.”
5. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” ‒ Milton Berle
Kevin Miller, founder and CEO of The Word Counter, said his New Year’s resolution is to uphold a standard of diversity and inclusion in his business. To help him stay focused and in control throughout the year, he intends on drawing inspiration from this Milton Berle quote.
“This quote reminds me to stay in control during times of uncertainty by always putting my best foot forward. It’s possible to make a way where there was no way before.”
6. “Be thankful for what you have. You’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
Bee & You CEO and founder Asli Samanci told us her New Year’s resolution is to read two books a month. The Oprah Winfrey quote that inspires her is about fostering thankfulness, she told us.
“I love this quote, because I believe in the power of gratitude. I always try to concentrate and reach for the best in my life personally and professionally.”
7. “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland
Dawna Boone, the owner of Valet Maids in Dallas, wants to focus on consistency in marketing for her business. She shared her favorite Judy Garland quote with us.
“I love this quote because, in today’s culture, it is so easy to compare ourselves to other people and try to copy what another person is doing and expect the same results. It is important that we instead focus on being the best version of ourselves and seek our own results.”
8. “We overestimate how much we can accomplish in a day, and we underestimate how much we can do in a year.” – Unknown
“I’ve heard several variations of this quote, but the person I heard it from first is the bestselling author and entrepreneur Michael Hyatt. I love this quote because this is something many entrepreneurs struggle with, including myself! Reflecting on this quote made me change how I schedule tasks by adding more buffer time in my day for interruptions, as well as working toward bigger, long-term goals that take more time and planning to execute.”
9. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde
The founder of Brilliantly Visible, Pri Kruijen, was one of the many entrepreneurs who told us achieving a better work-life balance was a major New Year’s resolution. She’s inspired by this famous Oscar Wilde quote, and she told us why it means so much to her and how it motivates her every day.
“To me, it means no matter what we are going through or how bad we feel our situation is (the gutter), we can look ahead (the stars) and keep dreaming. I have a trail of stars around my wrist to remind me every day of this quote.”
10. “Quem não arrisca não petisca.” – Unknown
Gabrielle Horta, the owner and founder of liveLUSO, an online community for all things Portuguese, wants to get better at prioritization and time management. The quote she shared with us, in her words, translates to “he who doesn’t risk doesn’t snack/eat.” She explained its meaning further to us.
“Essentially, if you don’t take a risk, you won’t get any reward. I love that in a literal sense. When trying to run your own small business, yes, you’re probably financially motivated. But even more so, you’re motivated by an intrinsic desire to share something you believe in with people around you to make their lives better in some way. It’s the little things that push you to continue working on your own business, especially when success remains uncertain.”
11. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
Jeff Smith, president of Castaline Insurance Agency, says this quote has always been one of his favorites.
“I love this quote because it reminds me that my success is up to me and that my mental health is a big part of that success. It’s so easy to be passive and assume that outside circumstances determine our fate. But the reality is that our thoughts and our actions have much more to do with our outcomes than we ever imagined. I’ll be making sure my thoughts lead to actions that produce results, no matter what’s going on in the outside world.”
12. “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.” – Frederick Douglass
Kelli Thomas-Drake, founder of a healthcare-oriented app called MyPurpleFolder, told us her New Year’s resolution is to balance achievement and well-being, which is a challenge for many entrepreneurs.
“I love this quote because it inspires me to always keep in mind that it’s OK to be myself, and that self-care always comes first.”
13. “Being happy never goes out of style.” – Lilly Pulitzer
The founder of Married in Palm Beach, Stefany Allongo, told us this short and sweet Lilly Pulitzer quote hits close to home for her – literally.
“Lilly Pulitzer launched her iconic brand in Palm Beach, so, as a fellow Palm Beacher, I can’t think of a better person to be inspired by! It reminds me that positivity is contagious. When running your own business, you have to be intentional in everything you do. Whether it’s speaking with clients or working with partners, you want to leave them feeling better than when they came into the conversation. There’s no better way to do that than by being happy.”
14. “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” – Ben Franklin
Brian Korup Snedvig, the CEO and co-founder of Denmark-based resume-building website Jofibo, has a New Year’s resolution that’s probably echoed by a lot of small business owners out there: “Create the best environment for our employees. Focus on togetherness, happiness and flexibility.” His favorite inspirational quote, from Ben Franklin, is a great one to keep in mind while setting goals (and making plans for achieving those goals).
15. “If failure is not an option, then neither is success.” – Seth Godin
Matt Benn, the founder of Soundplate, wants to write more, and he plans to dedicate one afternoon a week to this goal.
“Seth Godin is a fantastic author and a marketing guru! I could have picked any one of a number of great motivational quotes he has written, but I really like this one. We are a small business with big ambitions. We are constantly trying new things. I always encourage our team to test new ideas and not to be scared of failing.”
16. “Life shrinks and expands on the proportion of your willingness to take risks and try new things.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Emilia Taneva, the CEO of Bubbly Moments, is a busy entrepreneur who, like many business owners we heard from, wants to pursue a better work-life balance.
“My New Year’s resolution is optimizing my work-life balance. It’s not as concrete as getting a gym membership or learning a new language, but it’s pretty important if you’re an entrepreneur. I want to make sure that I’m doing my best with my business, but also giving my spouse and my son my best self as well.”
17. “It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.” – Seneca
Caveni Digital Solutions co-founder and operations director Alexander M. Kehoe told us his New Year’s resolution is “to make our inbound sales just as powerful as our outbound sales.” He’s inspired by this classic stoic quote from Seneca, which he called “a great quote for anyone, but especially entrepreneurs. People have always had struggles, but the will to overcome and the mindset to succeed is universal. Whether you’re a Greek hero or a small business owner, you can make your mind unconquerable.”
18. “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France
Hasmig “Jasmine” Penna, the designer behind Congés Fine Jewelry, shared this beautiful quote from French poet Anatole France with us. “This quote just resonates with my soul. There’s just something about this quote. I feel like it was written specifically for me.”
She also told us her New Year’s resolutions, which include being more assertive about her business. “My New Year’s resolution for this upcoming year is to have more professional courage and engaging conversation regarding my business at work events. I tend to listen and never really speak up about my work.”
19. “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” – Dean Karnazes
The president of October Biosciences, David Foggy, said he’s inspired by this quote from ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes. His New Year’s resolution is to continue growing his Colorado-based business.
“I will work with other hemp industry leaders to increase the safety and efficacy of hemp products on the shelf, and continue to research and discover the ‘hidden’ cannabinoids in hemp extract to determine their medicinal value for improving health. I will focus on living abundantly and giving back more to my community.”
20. “A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances, instead of your circumstances having power over you.” – Joyce Meyer
The CEO, founder and confidence strategist of Strong Girl Enterprises, Terrie Nathan, shared this uplifting and motivational Joyce Meyer quote with us. She told us she wants to live in the moment more, and has a specific plan to help her achieve her resolution.
“I tend to rush through life to the next and the next and the next. Sometimes you have to slow down to go fast, and that’s what I intend to do. I am committing to a combination of witnessing and soaking in 60 sunsets and sunrises in [the new year].”
21. “Some people make decisions and feel they have to live with it, instead of making a new choice.” – Unknown
Lynn Whitbeck, founder and CEO of women’s career mentoring site Petite2Queen, is no stranger to empowering other small business owners. She sent us this thoughtful quote about decision-making, from an unknown source, as well as her New Year’s resolution. She plans to “leverage my self-doubt to make the best decisions.”
22. “Fate doesn’t hang on a wrong or right choice; fortune depends on the tone of your voice.” – The Divine Comedy, “Songs of Love”
Ashley Pollak, co-founder of Cyber Alarm, chose a song lyric as his inspirational quote. He wants to improve the consistency of his meditation practice in the new year.
“Running a video business and launching a new startup, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I’m going to make sure I allocate the time daily to stop and meditate for 10 minutes.”
23. “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you’re doing, but no one else does.” – Steuart Henderson Britt
Robin Rucinsky, the president and media director of Thrive Advertising in Seattle, shared this funny yet insightful quote with us.
“My New Year’s resolution is to stop playing small. As a female entrepreneur, I’ve noticed that I’ve developed a habit of downplaying my successes. This coming year, I’m going to be more confident in sharing the story of the growth of the company. I’m reminding myself that there is a difference between being humble and lacking confidence. It doesn’t make me arrogant to be proud of my hard work that has paid off.”
24. “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” – Richard Branson
The founder and CEO of international digital marketing company BrandLoom, Avinash Chandra, told us his favorite quote and his New Year’s resolution. He wants to improve his business’s communication strategy, both internally and with clients, and also his employees’ work-life balance.
“In order to improve work-life balance, employees should be allowed to work from home,” he said of the latter resolution. “If they’re given the freedom to work from home a couple times a week, it could lift a huge amount of stress – which could mean healthier and happier staff.”
25. “Wanderer, your footprints are the path, and nothing else; wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking. Walking makes the path, and on glancing back one sees the path that must never be trod again. Wanderer, there is no path – just your wake in the sea.” – Antonio Machado
Carlos Castelán, founder and managing director of Minneapolis retail consulting firm The Navio Group, sent us this beautiful quote from famed Spanish poet Antonio Machado, which will serve as his inspiration in the new year.
“I appreciate the imagery of the poem because I think it’s a great metaphor for life, both looking forward and looking back. The concept of determining my own path via my decisions or steps, all the while seeing what’s behind me, sticks with me.”
Additional reporting by Skye Schooley. Some sources were interviewed for a previous version of this article.