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14 Inspirational Quotes for Startups and Small Business from Mark Suster

Mark Suster Startup QuotesMark Suster is a two-time entrepreneur (the founder of Koral and BuildOnline) turned venture capitalist (focused primarily on early stage tech companies). He joined Upfront Ventures in 2007 as a General Partner after selling his company to Salesforce.com.

His background in computer networking and system modeling afforded him some enviable gigs abroad and he was able to get his MBA from the University of Chicago paid for by his employer. Of this time, he says, “I got to work for a three year period of time as a ‘strategy consultant,’ which meant I became a blackbelt in PowerPoint and Excel.”

If you aren’t following his blog, you are missing out on an endless treasure trove of knowledge for your startup. Suster’s posts are candid, witty, and exactly what new and aspiring “wantrapreneurs” need to hear from someone who’s been there. Here’s a sampling of some of his advice:

“The sign of a good entrepreneur is the ability to spot your mistakes, correct quickly, and not repeat the mistakes.”

“Start early, build relationships, make them a part of your business.”

“Trust your instincts—they will serve you well as an entrepreneur.”

“No, it’s not as bad as working in coal mines. But it is quite the roller coaster and the stress is real.”

“Choose your investors carefully. There are many bad investors out there.”

“Remember that if you choose to be an entrepreneur or to at least try—it’s stressful for everybody who does it. Your competitors have just as much angst as you do. You read their press releases and think that it’s all rainbows and lollipops at their offices. It’s not. You’re just reading their press bullshit.”

“You can read lots of books or blogs about being an entrepreneur but the truth is you’ll really only learn when you get out there and do it. The earlier you make your mistakes the quicker you can get on to building a great company.”

“I hate losing. I really hate losing. But you need to embrace losing if you want to learn. Channel your negative energy. Revisit why you lost. Ask for real and honest feedback. Don’t be defensive about it—try to really understand it. But also look beyond it to the hidden reasons you lost. And channel the lessons to your next competition.”

“We all find ourselves in the habit of working late, traveling too much and eating like crap. In your twenties it’s manageable. In your thirties it starts to catch up with you. When you hit 40, life changes. You need to get serious about finding a way to bring health & fitness into your life as an entrepreneur.”

“Passion isn’t enough. You need a set of innate skills that differentiate you from the thousands of others who set out on your similar journey.”

“I want to talk about Kool Aid. Yours. Don’t drink it. I know you’re thinking that you have your head on straight but I promise you the experience of finding yourself in this maelstrom will leave any first time entrepreneur spinning.”

“Tenacity is probably the most important attribute in an entrepreneur. It’s the person who never gives up—who never accepts ‘no’ for an answer.”

“I believe that integrity and honesty are very important to most venture capital investors. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that they are required to make a lot of money.”

“Most serial entrepreneurs who are working on an early-stage concept know that whatever they’re working on in Year 1 is likely to be dramatically different than what they’re doing in Year 5.”

—Mark Suster, Entrepreneur and VC

Amber Ooley
Amber Ooley
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