Starting a business takes guts, mental toughness and confidence. No one knew that better than Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple computer, who passed away in October 2011 and remains a beloved figure who embodies the spirit of innovation.

As entrepreneurship transforms the global economy, many people have revisited his insights, seeking understanding and inspiration. Here are five Steve Jobs quotes to educate and inspire you.

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” PBM February 1985

Jobs was only 29 when he said this but it reflected his overall approach to life. If you devote your life to activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, and understand how precious your time on earth is, you will be surprised at the impact you can have.


“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.  Smithsonian Institution Oral History Interview, April 20, 1995

A non-quitting spirit is essential to success as an entrepreneur. Each small business owner faces obstacles—loved ones who don’t “get” what they’re doing, bankers who won’t lend them money, competition from bigger fish, to name a few—but Jobs innately understood that refusing to give up was a powerful advantage.


“I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.” – World Wide Developers Conference, May 1997

When you’re running your own business, there are always more opportunities to pursue, than you have time to devote. If you had unlimited time, you could attend every networking meeting, read every business best seller, and call a few more prospects, but since none of us has more than 24 hours a day, take a cue from Jobs: Focus your time on the most important activities to support what you really want to accomplish in life.


“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” – Stanford University Commencement Speech, 2005

Many of us spend more time at work than on any other activity. If you find that you are only working in your business to pay the bills, start asking questions: Are there new products or services you could introduce that will give you new inspiration? Could you outsource tasks you don’t like to someone else, so you can focus on work that you love? Is it time to close your business and start a new one that you’ll really love? There’s nothing wrong with pivoting, as Jobs well knew, so don’t put off making needed changes.


“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”  Stanford University Commencement Speech, 2005

What matters to you today may not be as important next year or in five or 10 years. As Jobs well understood, it’s important to do frequent litmus tests to make sure that you’re living each day in touch with your priorities—and course correct if you’re not.


Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. – Stanford University Commencement Speech, 2005

The world is full of conformity, but the most important innovations in every field have come from people who dared to think differently and had the courage to stick with their convictions. Stay open to your own best ideas and ignore the naysayers. You’ll be amazed at the power you unlock by listening to your inner voice.