Small business growth – quotes on strategy

Strategic Decisions

Richard Branson:

What’s the most critical factor in any business decision you’ll ever have to make? Basically, it boils down to this question: If this all crashes, will it bring the whole house tumbling down like a pack of cards? One business matra remains embedded in my brain – protect the downside.

Jim Rohn:

It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.

Robert Kiyosaki:

Success is a poor teacher.

Albert Einstein:

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

Theodore Roosevelt:

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing and the next best thing is the wrong thing–the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Abraham Lincoln:

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

Peter Drucker:

The business enterprise has two — and only two — basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.

Zig Ziglar:

Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.

Benjamin Disraeli:

The secret of success is constancy of purpose.

Thomas Edison:

Vision with execution is hallucination.


Ecclesiastes 9:11:

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Mark Horstman:

The real test of genius is not knowing best from worst, but knowing best from second best. - Manager Tools cast: Peer one-on-ones – Part 1

David Ogilvy:

The pursuit of excellence is less profitable than the pursuit of bigness, but it can be more satisfying. - Confessions of an Advertising Man

Sun Tzu:

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.  Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

Every battle is won before it is fought.

Lao Tzu:

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

Oliver Wendell Holmes:

The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.

Richard Branson:

Good people have always been at the heart of the Virgin business, and that’s largely because we have tried to keep our business small, and our management teams tight-knit.  I feel that small, compact companies, are better run.  That is partly because people feel more connected in small companies.

Orison Swett Marden:

All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.

Wayne Gretzky:

Skate to the where the puck is going, not where it’s been


A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.

Mats Lederhausen:

Think big, start small, then scale or fail fast.

From HBR article “Great businesses don’t start with a plan”

Dwight D. Eisenhower:

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable

Benjamin Disraeli:

How much easier is it to be critical than to be correct.

Ross Perot:

Life is like a cobweb. The lines cross at funny angles. Whether you’re successful or not doesn’t depend on how good your plans are, especially those five-year plans business schools teach. Success depends on how you react to unexpected opportunities.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Alexander Graham Bell:

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.

Brian Mulroney:

If everything is very important, then nothing is important.


Martin Luther King Junior:

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood — it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘Too late.’

Mark Twain:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

I am an old man and have known many great troubles, but most of them never happened.

Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

I never let schooling interfere with my education.

Lao Tzu:

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

John F. Kennedy:

There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.

Mikhail Gorbachev:

to Ronald Regan:

It is better to see once than to hear a hundred times.

Richard Branson:

When life isn’t going well, it’s very hard for a company to stay flexible enough to meet the challenge. Virgin Mobile USA has been trading punches in a fierce market since the beginning.  It has pretty much done everything right – and it’s still by no means out of the woods.  What delights me is the way the company has continued to innovate its way out of trouble. A defensive, conservative, cautious mindset – a natural enough reaction when things get tough – can kill you sotne dead in a competitive marketplace.  When your very existence is threatened, you have to change. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn in business, because it’s so counter-intuitive. Plus…it’s just plain hard to do.

Orison Swett Marden:

Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi:

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

Winston Churchill:

Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.

Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.

Joshua J. Marine:

Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

Oscar Wilde:

Frank Harris has been received in all the great houses – once.

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm.. in the real world all rests on perseverance.

Leonardo da Vinci:

It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.

Robert Sutton:

Renowned management guru Peter F.Drucker looked back at his 65-year consulting career shortly before he died. He concluded that great leaders could either be ‘charismatic or dull’ or ‘visionary or numbers-orientated,’ but the most inspiring and effective managers he knew all had said we rather than I.

Mahatma Gandhi:

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.

Steve Jobs:

Making an enduring company was both harder and more important than making a great product.

Daniel Burnham:

Make no little plans: they have no magic to stir men’s blood.

Lord Acton:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Albert Einstein:

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity

Henry Ford:

Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.

You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.

Sam Walton:

Capital isn’t scarce; vision is.

William Arthur Ward:

All glory comes from daring to begin.

William Jennings Bryan:

Destiny is not a matter of chance – it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for – it is a thing to be achieved.

Meg Cabot:

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. From now on you’ll be traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. The key is to allow yourself to make the journey.

Hawley R. Everhart:

It’s all right to aim high if you have plenty of ammunition.

Dee W. Hock:

It is essential to employ, trust, and reward those whose perspective, ability, and judgement are radically different from yours. It is also rare, for it requires uncommon humility, tolerance, and wisdom.

Ralph Nader:

I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followrs.

Samuel Johnson:

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.

Will Smith:

The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right? You’re not going to out-work me. It’s such a simple, basic concept. The guy who is willing to hustle the most is going to be the guy that just gets that loose ball. The majority of people who aren’t getting the places they want or aren’t achieving the things that they want in this business is strictly based on hustle. It’s strictly based on being out-worked; it’s strictly based on missing crucial opportunities. I say all the time if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.

John Kotter:

Effective leaders help others to understand the necessity of change and to accept a common vision of desired outcomes.

Peter M. Senge:

A shared vision is not an idea. It is not even an important idea such as freedom.  It is, rather a force in people’s hearts, a force of impressive power.  It may be inspired by an idea, but once it goes further–if it is compelling enough to acquire the support of more than one person–then it is no longer an abstraction.  It is palpable.  People begin to see it as if it exists.  Few, if any, forces in human affairs are as powerful as shared vision.

Napoleon Hill:

Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.

Brian Tracy:

The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.

Dale Carnegie:

Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.

Og Mandino:

Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats.

Zig Ziglar:

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.

Tom Hopkins:

The number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying.

Seth Godin:

You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.

Andrew Carnegie:

Take away my people but leave my factories, and soon grass will grow on factory floors. Take away my factories but leave my people, and soon we will have a new and better factory.

Charles Darwin:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Benjamin Franklin:

Never ruin an apology with an excuse.

Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.

Albert Einstein:

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

Friedrich Nietzsche:

Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.

Warren Bennis:

The first job of a leader is to define a vision for the organization…the capacity to translate vision into reality.

Margaret Wheatley:

Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes.

Dwight D. Eisenhower:

Leadership: the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.

Anita Roddick:

You have to look at leadership through the eyes of the followers and you have to live the message.

Max DePree:

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.

Lao Tzu:

To lead the people, walk behind them.

Peter F. Drucker:

The foundation of effective leadership is thinking through the organisation’s mission, defining it and establishing it, clearly and visibly. The leader sets goals, sets the priorities snd sets and maintains the standards.

Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong…And yet, a person can perform only from strength.

Thomas Hazlitt:

Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought.

Edward Teller:

To pursue simplicity in life, in the world, in the future, is a most valuable enterprise.

Roald Dahl:

I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. 


Milton Friedman:

We don’t have a desperate need to grow. We have a desperate desire to grow.

Entrepreneur Development

James Michener:

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion.  He hardly knows which is which.  He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.  To him he is always doing both.

Bertrand Russell:

First of all: what is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.

Lao Tzu:

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is wisdom.

To know when you have enough is to be rich.

The way to use life is to do nothing through acting.  The way to use life is to do everything through being.


To know and not to use is not yet to know!

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”

Mark Horstman:

Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.

If you’re a High I like I am, beware. You’re going to let deadlines pass but trust that everybody knows you and everybody likes you and everybody believes in you. And then you’re going to wonder why they don’t actually trust you, they don’t actually like you, they don’t actually like working with you and it’s because you’ve been letting deadlines slip because you don’t think they’re that important.

William Blake:

I was angry with my friend: I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow.

Mark Twain:

A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.

A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.

Rupert Murdoch:

We’ve got to get rid of the fear of failure in this country. In America, people start things, fail and shake themselves down and start things again. The animal spirit of capitalism is stronger there.

Chinese proverb:

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.

Steve Jobs:

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.address to Standard 2005 graduates

Lord Acton:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely

Buckminster Fuller:

You can’t change the way people think, all you can do is give them a tool, the use of which will change their thinking.

Vito Corleone (The Godfather):

Do you spend time with your family? Because a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.

Hugh Macleod:

Never compare your inside with someone else’s outside.

Michael Jordan:

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.

Booker T. Washington’s:

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.

Woody Allen:

Eighty percent of success is showing up.

Thomas Edison:

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Charles Wadsworth:

By the time a man realises that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.

Winston Churchill:

There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human, are created, strengthened and maintained.

German proverb:

To change and to improve are two different things.

E.E. Cummings:

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, day and night, to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.


Ludwig van Beethoven:

I have never thought of writing for reputation and honour. What I have in my heart must come out; that is the reason why I compose.

Thomas Jefferson:

It is neither wealth nor splendour, but tranquillity and occupation which give happiness.

Product Strategy

Henry Ford:

If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’

Steve Jobs:

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

Focus is about saying, No. And the result of that focus is going to be some really great products where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts.

Bill Cosby:

The key to failure is trying to please everybody.

David Ogilvy:

Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.


Jack Ma:

When you are small, you have to be very focused and rely on your brain, not your strength.

Steve Jobs:

People think focus means saying ‘yes’ to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying ‘no’ to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.


Chinese proverb:

It is better to have the tail of an elephant than the body of an ant.

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