We looked to great thinkers and doers from throughout history for words that will help keep you fresh, dedicated, and at the top of your game.
When it comes to starting a business (from learning financing terms and leadership skills, to figuring out what works when it comes to content marketing), there are obviously a ton of issues that will dog you every day: the so-called costs of doing business. No matter what industry you’re in, there’s always a million little problems and tasks when a business is first starting up.
But besides these everyday business things, there are also the deeper, more conceptual issues to contend with: How fast should I be working? What’s the right business philosophy? How does one maintain a clear head while working hard? How can I effectively give back to my community? Considering these more ephemeral questions—which might, in fact, come up just as often as the “real-world” problems—we decided gather some insight into how to stay committed and thrive by looking to some of history’s great writers and thinkers.
“Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.”
So this verse by Romantic poet William Blake might have to be re-worded for those who keep a night schedule, but its essential message is critical: sleep is so important to the long term viability of both your health and your business. The CDC recently reported that 1 out of 3 adults don’t get the sleep they need (that’s 7 hours a night if you’re between the ages of 18 and 60, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine). Chances are, if you’re just starting up a business or trying to take it to scale it to the next level, you’re sleeping less. However, good sleep should be a top priority for you and your team.
“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”
—William S. Burroughs
This is some great advice if you find yourself struggling to figure out a problem or make the proper business decision. Although perspiration and grit are necessary for this process, if you find yourself repeatedly hitting a wall, it might be best to step back and decompress. Oftentimes, moments of creativity and innovation come when we stop trying to force them; so heed this thought from the Beat bard and novelist.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
This quote from the 6th-century Chinese philosopher hints at the need to pace your developing business. As described by Phillip Soriano in his suggestions on how to bootstrap a business, sometimes you have to recognize that you can’t commit all your time to it all at once, especially if you’re just getting started. Figure out the pacing that ensures that you still get the time for
sleep, fun, friends and family, and just keep at it. Sometimes, a slower pace ensures that you’ll make less mistakes.
“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
— Toni Morrison
Don’t be freaked out if the idea you have seems like it’s never been done before. Trust the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist! Innovation is always about risk-taking, and sometimes, it’s just about trusting your vision. Consider Daniel Lewis, who couldn’t find a great suit at an affordable price, so he made his own, and then started his bespoke clothing company Brooklyn Tailors.
“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”
A simple but insightful thought from a titan of industry: reputations are built on your accomplishments, rather than your goals (though, of course, your goals and dreams are indispensable). Remember this whenever you think you can rest on your laurels—vision is of the utmost importance, but what you’ve done is what will matter most to your customers and stakeholders.
“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”
— Benjamin Franklin
Of course, a large part of staying committed to your business is ensuring financial viability— the less you stress about money, the more you can give to developing your product or service. This quote from Ben Franklin offers perspective on the importance of paying attention to detail: all those small expenses add up. (It also helps when you have access to simple, transparent and fair small business loans)
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Philanthropy is fast becoming an essential way of building your
brand, and small business owners everywhere are starting to understand that they should give back within their means. Not only will it help on the business end of things— giving back to the community or causes that you care about will help you stay committed, since acts of kindness make you feel good. And sometimes, the business model might radically scale up when you hit on an opportunity to both help and drive business, as Saltwater Brewery did. So bear in mind this thought from the ancient Greek philosopher Aesop; it resonates just as strong now as it did 2,500 years ago.