Quotes for Entrepreneurs – December 2008

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

I like to collect quotes. I think these are particularly appropriate quotes for entrepreneurs–your mileage may vary. I post them first on http://twitter.com/skmurphy and summarize them once a month, older blog posts about quotes are available at www.skmurphy.com/blog/category/quotes/ Enter your E-mail if you would like Feedburner to deliver new blog posts to your inbox.

I realize now that using Twitter, while encouraging me to collect more new quotes, forces me to focus on ones that will fit in an SMS message. I am thinking of retitling this “Pithy Quotes For Entrepreneurs” where pithy means both “precisely meaningful; forceful and brief” and “short enough for Twitter.” When Shakespeare penned “brevity is the soul of wit” he didn’t know the half of it.

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“Innovation isn’t what innovators do….it’s what customers and clients adopt.”
Michael Schrage in “Michael Schrage on Innovation” interviewed in Ubiquity

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“Bottom line: anytime a failed startup is ‘acquired’ and the service is shut down, you don’t have an acquisition. You have a Silicon Valley signing bonus.”
Drama 2.0

Update April 30, 2011: the Drama 2.0 blog is offline, URL was http://www.drama20show.com/2008/12/03/silicon-valley-the-only-place-where-getting-a-new-job-acquisition/ For other writing see:

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“Contentment is wanting what you have.
Ambition is wanting what another person has.
Progress comes from wanting what nobody has.”
Bob Lewis “Random Thoughts

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“I will evangelize hard work and editing by making it show in everything that I do, make, and share.”
Merlin Mann in “Better

This is my abridged “twitter version” (used with Merlin’s permission) of his original quote:

I want to become an evangelist for hard work and editing, and I want to get to a place where it shows in everything that I do, make, and share.
Merlin Mann in “Better

I think this will be one of my 2009 resolutions.

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“Planning is a means. If it becomes an end, that’s a problem. Without planning, everything encountered is completely new.”
Will Kamishlian

See “Planning in a Bootstrap Startup: a Model from Will Kamishlian

As Theresa observed in “3 Tips for Entrepreneurs Planning a Startup

Startups need a lightweight planning and development model to thread the narrows between “just do it” and “let’s study the problem a little longer.” We use an one-page planning model to develop an operating plan.

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“Wisdom is as the moon rises, perceptible not in progress but in result.”
Chinese proverb

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“The future not being born, my friend, we will abstain from baptizing it.”
George MeredithBeauchamp’s Career

I had used this in November 2006 in “Thoughts on Perseverance and Promises” but Cisco’s positioning itself as the archetype of the first successful Enterprise 2.0 firm in Fast Company led me to recycle it in “Cisco Presents Collaboration Technology as Sufficiently Advanced.”

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“Saddle your own horse, cull your own herd, and bury your own dead.”
Col. Knute Lombatton (cited in “Old Bull, Young Bull” hat tip to Brian Dunbar )

I thought this was a good definition of bootstrapping.

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“It’s wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope.”
JRR Tolkien

The recession is forcing a lot of firms to make hard decisions about product mix, staffing, and plans for 2009. This is only my second Tolkien quote, in “Please Be Healthy” my post about an E-mail I sent to an entrepreneur facing some tough decisions in July of 2007 I used this stanza from Lord of the Rings to encourage him:

“All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost;
the old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
JRR Tolkien

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“Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia.”
Mary Schmich from her “Advice, like Youth, Probably Wasted On the Young

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“The key thing is always being able to roll back if things go seriously wrong; hardware is much, much cheaper than downtime.”
Laurie James Voss in a post on Hacker News answering “How do big web sites roll out new versions?

Voss’ answer struck me as more broadly applicable. It reminded me of points that Sandy Jens made at Structure08: avoid “trap door transitions” that you cannot undo, make small, easily reversible changes to explore improving the user experience.

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