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Press for Progress: 40 Inspiring Quotes for Women Entrepreneurs


Are you ready to #PressforProgress?

Today, March 8, is International Women's Day, “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”

In yesterday’s post, we looked at the 10 Top Women in Tech Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2018. Learning about the achievements of others can be inspiration in itself, but if you want to join them and become a successful woman entrepreneur yourself, how do you get started?

One of the best ways is to listen to some words of wisdom from those who have gone before you. So, in this post, we’ll look at 40 inspiring quotes for successful women entrepreneurs.

1. Charting Your Own Course

Susan Wojcicki
Susan Wojcicki. Image by Steve Jennings / TechCrunch , CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia
“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” — Coco Chanel (Source: Entrepreneur Hall of Fame)
“Everybody has a calling. And your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you were meant to be, and to begin to honor that in the best way possible for yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey (Source: Dr. Lisa M. Thompson)
“I am not very good at following instructions. I prefer to figure out how to do something myself. Sometimes this is not very practical but results in an interesting outcome.” — Susan Wojcicki (Source: Forbes)
“Take criticism seriously, but not personally.” — Hillary Clinton (Source: Curated Quotes)
"You don't have to be the smartest or the strongest, as long as you keep being adaptable to change and evolving you can survive and thrive. I always had something that held me back and I thought 'I'm not the smartest in my class, can I really start a business on my own?'. It was just a case of realising you just have to try it. That's been the biggest comfort on my journey when you feel like you are winging it.” — Jane Cay (Source: The Sydney Morning Herald)

2. Always Learning

Cher Wang
Cher Wang.Image by Robert Scoble from Half Moon Bay, USA - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“There is no perfect fit when you're looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.” ― Sheryl Sandberg (Source: Goodreads)
“As a CEO, I am finding that I have to become a learning CEO. I have to go to school all the time because I am learning new skills that I need to run this company and I am realising that I am not equipped to just coast, I have to constantly renew my skills.” — Indra Nooyi (Source: WikiQuote)
“It takes humility to realize that we don't know everything, not to rest on our laurels and know that we must keep learning and observing.” — Cher Wang (Source: CNBC)
"When you look at my success over the years, it's because I had that level of flexibility to learn.” — Jacqueline Sharp (Source: Jamaica Gleaner)
“I had a mentality back then that I only wanted to learn whether you paid me or not. I had a pursuit different from others because they all came from downtown areas with money but I didn’t have any. All I wanted is to change my destiny with my own efforts.” — Zhou Qunfei (Source: The Independent)

3. Staying Motivated

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey. Image by aphrodite-in-nyc, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons 
“Believe that there are no limitations, no barriers to your success --- you will be empowered and you will achieve.” — Ursula Burns (Source: AZ Quotes)
“Persevere—never give up! Today’s world enjoys electricity because of those who did not give up!” — Folorunso Alakija (Source: Smart & Relentless)
"You start a 24/7 business and you work 24/7. When you're not here [in the office], you take calls in the middle of the night, regularly – that's how the early days were. I've worked harder than you can possibly imagine. In the last couple of years, life has normalised … The impact on my life now is very different." — Denise Coates (Source: The Guardian)
"I want to advise other women that with hard work you can get anywhere, particularly if it is a direction that you want to pursue.” — Lorna Myers (Source: Jamaica Gleaner)
“I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk.” — Oprah Winfrey (Source: Dr. Lisa M. Thompson)

4. Working With Other People

Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor. Image by Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Steve Petteway source, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with people.” — Mary Kay Ash (Source: Entrepreneur Hall of Fame)
“The joy is in the getting there. The beginning years of starting your business, the camaraderie when you’re in the pit together, are the best years of your life.” — Barbara Corcoran (Source: Vibe Consulting)
“Sometimes, idealistic people are put off the whole business of networking as something tainted by flattery and the pursuit of selfish advantage. But virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this world you have to be known to people.” — Sonia Sotomayor (Source: BrainyQuote)
“I believe in businesses where you engage in creative thinking, and where you form some of your deepest relationships. If it isn’t about the production of the human spirit, we are in big trouble.” — Anita Roddick (Source: Entrepreneur Hall of Fame)
The biggest issue women entrepreneurs face is they don’t have access to finance and they don’t have access to markets. If they do get lucky and get finance they don’t have the support to make sure they’re nurtured in their startup phase [so] that they have a better chance of succeeding. So to me the key ingredient is making sure you walk the journey with the entrepreneur and plug in wherever you are required [to] in order to make them successful.” – Zizipho Nyanga (Source: SME South Africa)

5. Self-Reliance

“I got myself a start by giving myself a start.” — Madam C. J. Walker (Source: Entrepreneur Hall of Fame)
”I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” — Estée Lauder (Source: Cleverism)
“You are responsible for your life. If you’re sitting around waiting on somebody to save you, to fix you, to even help you, you are wasting your time, because only you have the power to take responsibility to move your life forward. What matters is now, this moment and your willingness to see this moment for what it is, accept it, forgive the past, take responsibility, and move forward.” — Oprah Winfrey (Source: YouTube)
“One important thing is to act as if. Act as if you aren’t the only woman in the room. Act as if your voice is heard. Act as if you’re a CEO even when you don’t know a balance sheet from a bed sheet. Half of getting there is having the confidence to show up and keep showing up.” — Sophia Amoruso (Source: Project Eve)
“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” — Mary KayAsh (Source: Cleverism)

6. Pushing for Growth

Sara Blakely
Sara Blakely. Image by Gillian Zoe Segal - Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“If you don’t let not knowing how it’s done intimidate you, it’s amazing what you can do.” — Sara Blakely (Source: Makers)
“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 (Source: Vibe Consulting)
“When I get negative feedback, I usually write it down, because there might be something in it that’s true. Feedback is a gift, whether it’s positive or negative. When people are giving me feedback, even the people I work with, I listen and make a mental note and when I’m alone or in a calmer space, I revisit what they said and ask myself if it’s true. When someone gives you negative constructive feedback, they just want you to succeed and be better.” — Claire Mawisa (Source: SME South Africa)
“As an entrepreneur you don’t hear “No.” You have to see opportunity in every situation. I don’t think of “No” as a dead end, I think, “OK I have to fix this.” Self awareness is a really important part of this process — you have to know your weaknesses as well as your strengths.” – Payal Kadakia (Source: Project Eve)
"Women need to be willing to be rejected. Willing to fail. We women, I think, have a harder time with failure. We want to do everything right." — Arianna Huffington (Source: The Guardian)

7. Leadership

Indra Nooyi
Indra Nooyi. Image by JeffBedford from Arlington, Virginia, United States - posted to Flickr as Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO, Speaking at the World Economic Forum 2010 Annual Meeting, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader. As a leader I am tough on myself and I raise the standard for everybody; however I am very caring because I want people to excel at what they are doing so that they can aspire to be me in the future. — Indra Nooyi (Source: WikiQuote)
“You know, as most entrepreneurs do, that a company is only as good as its people. The hard part is actually building the team that will embody your company culture and propel you forward.” — Kathryn Minshew (Source: Cleverism)
“Presenting leadership as a list of carefully defined qualities (like strategic, analytical, and performance-oriented) no longer holds. Instead, true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.” — Sheryl Sandberg (Source: Curated Quotes)
“Leadership is all about providing a vision and a direction for the organisation and the ability to inspire people to go there with you.” – Nonkululeko Gobodo (Source: SME South Africa)
“Ninety percent of leadership is the ability to communicate something people want.” — Dianne Feinstein (Source: Curated Quotes)

8. Living Your Values

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy - P021213CK-0027 (direct link), Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons 
“I became successful due to several reasons. I never gave up and I never let anyone or anything get in my way. I use the power of positive thinking to tackle obstacles and challenges so they don’t defeat me. Passion for my work and my business is another important reason. I really love my work and I get great satisfaction from it.” — Lillian Vernon (Source: Profitable Venture)
I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear. — Rosa Parks (Source: StyleCaster)
“If you are committed to creating value and if you aren’t afraid of hard times, obstacles become utterly unimportant. A nuisance perhaps, but with no real power. The world respects creation; people will get out of your way.” — Candice Carpenter (Source: Millie Leung)
“I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values - and follow my own moral compass - then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.” — Michelle Obama (Source: BrainyQuote)
You have to be exactly who you are, because ultimately people will see through you if you’re not leading in an authentic way. For me, it’s about very simple, straightforward communication. Our industry tends to do a lot of technospeak, to make things more complicated than they need to be. With a company this size, you have to speak clearly and lay out the objectives so that your teams can explain what’s happening to customers and partners and one another. — Meg Whitman (Source: Harvard Business Review)


I hope you’ve enjoyed these quotes and found some lessons within them that can help you in your own entrepreneurial journey. If you’d like to share your own favourite quotes, feel free to do so in the comments below.

Don’t forget to visit the International Women’s Day website to learn more about the achievements of women and the fight for gender parity. And remember that although International Women’s Day is just one day of the year, the struggle for women’s empowerment should go on all year round.

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