9 Most Overused Quotes Meant to Inspire Entrepreneurs

9 Cringe-Worthy Clichés You Need to Stop Seeing in Business Books

Bjorgvin Benediktsson
5 min readApr 17, 2017

I read a lot of business books because I get immediately bored with fiction unless they involve brightly colored characters running around in costumes and capes.

(One day I’ll figure out how to break into the comic book industry…)

Once you read a certain amount of business books you start noticing something very curious.

Everybody keeps quoting the same people!

And it’s not that the quotes aren’t good, it’s that I was hoping to learn something new from the next book, not just one more perspective on what Henry Ford was really trying to say that applies to your brand new business!

So I thought really long and hard about all the clichés that are meant to inspire young entrepreneurs. About 20 minutes later (very long and hard) I came up with this list.

I added some commentary meant to entertain, but also because I don’t want this post to just be a list of random quotes. There needs to be some structure here for Ford’s sake!

All right…


“If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” -Henry Ford

I swear, I’m so sick of this quote. Yeah yeah, not everyone can be a futurist that sees what everyone else doesn’t. Some people are just happy to find a way to….


“Build a better mouse trap”

Why is it always a mousetrap? What’s the origin of building a better mousetrap? Where are all these mice that people are so obsessed with catching?!?

Was this like an epidemic somewhere that people forgot to write about in the history books?

Maybe it happened right after Edison invented the lightbulb, at which point everyone realized that their houses were covered with mice!


Speaking of Edison, I got you a real pick-me-up right here:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Edison

I just can’t. Everybody seems to gloss over the fact that he did in fact fail 10,000 ways.

And that’s actually fine because I do believe in failing fast and learning from your failures but you don’t get to wash them off.

Be proud!

You should spray that shit on you like cologne! Look at me! I’ve failed so many times but guess what?!? I’m still fucking here!

The quote should really be:

“I’ve learned from 10,000 failures to create something truly groundbreaking. So suck it.”


Speaking of keeping at it ad nauseam,

“Follow Your Passion”

This isn’t a quote by anybody per say but rather a statement that every Wantrepreneur jerks off to during the lunch breaks of his shitty cubicle job.

This is a bullshit quote because it assumes that everything is roses and champagne all the time.

It should be “follow your passion…but make sure you validate that there’s a reasonable business idea behind it that can support you and your family financially.”


“Do or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda

I really didn’t want to drag Master Yoda into all of this but somebody had to put this quote on a random “inspirational quote compilation” I found on the internet.

Yeah dude, there is a try. There is a “let’s try…then reiterate…then pivot…then adjust the idea, take the core of it out and replace it with something else…”

After all that “try” you’re bound to have “done” something.

Fucking Jedis…

Moving on:


“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

This is some stupid “Secret” bullshit right here. Don’t get me wrong. I thought the ideas in “Think and Grow Rich” were good. I just think there’s more to it than “think and you will achieve.”

It’s more like “Think! And then plan according to what you’re thinking. And then make sure you analyze the data from the experiments you made from your plan. And then decide if that was an achievement within the goals that you made. Then execute and (hopefully) achieve.”


The same can be said of this one:

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” — Theodore Roosevelt

I do think starting something actually starts with believing you can do it. I just think believing is worthless unless it is immediately followed by doing actual work.


“The money is in the list” -Every Email Marketing Guru

This one is true, but as with anything else it’s more about what you do with the list. Having one is pointless if it doesn’t have a strategy behind it.

An email list is worthless unless you’ve built up trust with your list and have something to sell that they want.


Let’s wrap this up by coming full circle, right back to Mr. Henry Ford:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” -Henry Ford

I actually like this quote and although it’s quoted all the time I believe it encapsulates something meaningful.

The thing is, it’s easy to sit on your ass and do nothing. It’s especially easy to daydream about all the success you would’ve had if you had just worked on that “one idea you had.”

It’s awesome to daydream about superstar success because it’s so much fun to visualize all the glorious victories you have in your imaginary life.

But what if you actually tried to get a little bit closer to that imaginary life? What if you worked just a little bit harder on that “one idea” instead of letting the next episode autoplay on Netflix?

What if that success isn’t imaginary, but just needs be brought to life?

What if you think you can….and you’re right?

Let me know which quotes irritate you in the comments. If you liked this article hit Recommend to let others know about it.

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Bjorgvin Benediktsson

I write about music, creativity, and entrepreneurship. My new book, You Get What You Give, is out now. Grab it here: https://geni.us/YGWYG