As entrepreneurs, and especially as retailers, the way you feel about work can be an emotional rollercoaster. One month you’re on top of the world, the next you’re questioning why you’ve even dedicated yourself to your business — especially during those slower months. The beautiful thing is, inspiration is everywhere. You simply need to pause every now and then, and notice the words of wisdom of successful business people and thought leaders surrounding you.
Bookmark this article for when you need that boost of inspiration. Save your favorites as your desktop background or print them and post them in your office. The point is, take in these words of wisdom to help guide you on this sometimes wild and whirlwind journey also known as retail.
You never know: Your new business mantra might be right here.
On Mission Statements:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” ― Simon Sinek
Key Takeaway: Everything starts with your “why.” This becomes the purpose of your business, and should be the driving force that informs your marketing plan, your social media strategy, and what you communicate to customers. Your “why” also becomes your brand’s added value and differentiating factor in a marketplace filled with competition. So, once you know what that is (and it is critical to take the time to figure it out), make sure it’s clearly communicated in everything you do. It’s your mission statement, after all.
Oh, and do yourself a favor: watch Sinek’s TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action: it has gone on to become number three on the list of the “20 most popular TED Talks of all time.”
On Defying the Status Quo:
“Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger.” ― Tony Hsieh
CEO of Zappos
Key Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to shake up your industry and be disruptive. Every idea already exists — it’s all about how you’re going to deliver it in a way that’s different and how you’re going to attract customers by discovering your niche. So don’t get bogged down by how you’ll go about it; for now think bigger.
Tony Hsieh certainly knows how to think big and defy the status quo. As CEO of Zappos, the footwear and clothing e-tailer that launched in 1999, and best-selling author of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, Hsieh is considered a leader in retail and e-commerce. Zappos is not only an e-commerce giant, it’s also become known as a beacon of online customer service.
On Problem Solving:
“Everything is figureoutable.” ― Marie Forleo
Motivational speaker, life coach and author
Key Takeaway: Next time you feel discouraged, this quote should be your go-to. Marie Forleo tells it like it is, because it really is that simple: there is always a solution, even in retail and even when there doesn’t seem to be one. So, don’t sweat the small stuff and instead focus on thinking about your options and next steps.
As a life coach, Marie Forleo’s mission is to help entrepreneurs realize their greatest potential and use their unique talents to change the world. Her website is included in Forbes’ “Top 100 websites for Entrepreneurs.”
On Productivity and Focus:
“If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.” ― Greg McKeown
Author, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Key Takeaway: As retailers, there can be an endless amount of choices and options — the important thing is being able to choose your focus. And as entrepreneurs, we don’t need to remind you how tough it can be to achieve balance, as you’re always “on” and thinking about work. So say “no” to the things that don’t fill you up with passion and “yes” to what’s truly essential: your retail business and your well-being.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is one of my favorite books of all-time and a must-read for every retailer, entrepreneur and everyone, really. Greg McKeown is a public speaker, business and leadership consultant and was inducted into the World Economic Forum’s “Forum of Young Global Leaders.”
“Change almost never fails because it's too early. It almost always fails because it's too late.” ― Seth Godin
Bestselling author of 18 books, marketer, public speaker, and entrepreneur
Key Takeaway: As retailers, it’s important to recognize when there’s a need for change, whether it’s coming from external factors like the industry, fluctuating trends, or an evolving clientele. Whatever the reason, it’s key to identify the need to change quickly, and be reactive and agile while you can before it becomes too late.
We can literally dedicate entire articles to the genius that is Seth Godin. His soundbites never cease to inspire! The author of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us and Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, focuses on topics like art, originality, and being passionate about your work.
"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." ― Tony Robbins
Key Takeaway: In the same spirit as Seth Godin’s quote above, the essence here is that if you stick to the same formula and are afraid of change, then you are likely to get the same (average) results. It’s important to keep your fingers on the pulse of your industry and be in tune with changing trends and the competition. Remaining stagnant can be detrimental to your retail business. On the other hand, remaining agile and dialed into what’s going on around you can keep you a step ahead of the competition, and ensure you remain relevant.
The guru who motivates people to walk on fiery coals knows what he’s talking about — his masterclass is a sell-out wherever he goes.
"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity." ― Amelia Earhart
Aviation pioneer and author
Key Takeaway: Being a retail entrepreneur allows you the freedom of being your own boss and making your own choices, but it’s not all roses every day. It takes tenacity and grit to keep going, stay innovative, and keep on growing, even in the face of failures.
On Giving Back:
"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." ― Booker T. Washington
American educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States
Key Takeaway: Supporting a cause close to your heart is part of corporate social responsibility, which is becoming increasingly important in today’s landscape. If you don’t already have ties to a specific organization, consider partnering with a cause that aligns with your mission and brand, so that it’s authentic and logical.
According to an article in Inc., Why It's Crucial for Your Company to Give Back, philanthropy is important for big business but makes an even bigger impact for small businesses. For starters, it becomes the differentiating factor that sets you apart; according to the Inc. article, 89% of consumers say they would switch brands to one that supports a cause over one that doesn't, and 90% say it would make them more loyal (especially if it’s a local cause!). It also humanizes your brand and motivates you to get out and interact with your community.
“Word of mouth works now, much more than ever. @-reply every single person.” ― Gary Vaynerchuk
Key Takeaway: In this era of open communication and consumer engagement, it’s critical to reply to all questions and acknowledge all comments directed to your brand on your social channels. Social media makes it possible to enjoy open dialogue between companies and customers, and ignoring this opportunity can be an epic fail. By acknowledging both positive and negative feedback, and responding with poise and solutions, you can turn naysayers into loyal customers. Leverage this opportunity.
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do." ― Steve Jobs
Co-founder and CEO of Apple
Key Takeaway: The notion of loving what you do isn’t a novel concept, and yes, it’s slightly cliché. But it takes passion to be dedicated to your retail business, as it’s a 25-hour job. Steve Jobs’ ability to “think different” and make Apple one of the most innovative and revolutionary companies of all-time is a testament to his genius, but also of Jobs’ passion for his art and brand. Steve Jobs was Apple and Apple was Steve Jobs; and this quote has become even more impactful in light of Jobs’ death at the height of his career.
Honorable mention… On Happiness:
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from.” ― Seth Godin
Since there can be tomes dedicated to Seth Godin’s inspirational quotes, we figured we’d add another one to further drive home the importance of passion. As a retail entrepreneur, you need to love what you do. Everyone needs a vacation once in awhile, but if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, your day-to-day work will feel like a vacation.
And isn’t that the ultimate dream?