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11 Quotes from Michael Dell on Entrepreneurship and Success

Michael Dell PhotographLike so many of the other entrepreneurs we’ve profiled over the past year or so, Michael Dell saw a problem and thought, “there’s got to be a better way to do that.” As a college freshman, he started a small business assembling and selling computers from his dorm room, when he noticed that companies like IBM were selling computers made from $600 in parts for as much as $3000. What’s more, their resellers didn’t understand how the computers were made, and didn’t have the skills to service the computers they sold.

Dell recognized the opportunity to offer better service and cheaper computers. He stopped attending classes and spent his time building computers for his clients. In his first year, he sold nearly $80,000 in computers and parts. From there, he added a few employees to take orders and assemble machines, and the business took off. A decade later, Dell Computer Corporation was taking more than $1 million in sales every day. And Michael Dell was the youngest CEO to have his company ranked in Forbes Top 500 Corporations. Not bad for a college drop-out.

Since then Michael Dell has spoken out about his experiences. Some of the things he has said will appeal to others who are struggling to make their own small businesses successful:

“Sometimes you just have to belly up to the bar and take a chance. We made some mistakes, but we also had the strength to work our way out.”

“Don’t spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity, that you miss the right opportunity.”

“Whether you’ve found your calling, or if you’re still searching, passion should be the fire that drives your life’s work.”

“Recognize that there will be failures, and acknowledge that there will be obstacles. But you will learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others, for there is very little learning in success.”

“The key is to listen to your heart and let it carry you in the direction of your dreams. I’ve learned that it’s possible to set your sights high and achieve your dreams and do it with integrity, character, and love. And each day that you’re moving toward your dreams without compromising who you are, you’re winning.”

“There are a lot of things that go into creating success. I don’t like to do just the things I like to do. I like to do things that cause the company to succeed. I don’t spend a lot of time doing my favorite activities.”

“The idea of being all things to all people is a thing of the past.”

“It’s through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we’ve always mapped our path at Dell. There’s always an opportunity to make a difference.”

“One of the things I benefited from when I started this business was that I didn’t know anything. I was just instinct with no preconceived notions. This enabled me to learn and change quickly without having to worry about maintaining any kind of status quo, like some of my bigger competitors.”

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Get out there and experiment and learn and fail and get a rate based on the experiences you have. Go for it and when you go for it you’ll learn what you’re capable of, what the potential is, where the opportunities are, but you can’t be afraid to fail because that’s when you learn.”

“If you’re happy, that’s probably the most important thing. Everyone probably has their own definition of success, for me it’s happiness. Do I enjoy what I’m doing? Do I enjoy the people I’m with? Do I enjoy my life?”

—Michael Dell, Entrepreneur and Founder of Dell Computers