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13 Quotes from Ross Perot on Small Business Success

The U.S. Presidential election is right around the corner. So this week, we thought we’d turn to a former presidential candidate who is perhaps better known for his entrepreneurial success than for his politics—Ross Perot.

Mr. Perot was an over achiever from his childhood—joining the Boy Scouts and earning his Eagle award in just 13 months. He became the President of his college class, and as a salesman for IBM, he filled his annual quota in just two weeks. After he left IBM to found his own company (with a $1000 investment), he was rejected 77 times before before he landed his first contract. Despite those humble beginnings, Perot later sold a controlling interest in EDS to GM for $2.4 billion. Not bad.

Ross Perot is nothing, if not a colorful personality who has had a lot to say about business (and politics) among other subjects. Here’s a small collection of Ross Perot quotes that we find most inspirational:

“Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown.”

“Eagles don’t flock, you have to find them one at a time.”

“Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships.”

“Most new jobs won’t come from our biggest employers. They will come from our smallest. We’ve got to do everything we can to make entrepreneurial dreams a reality.”

“Punishing honest mistakes stifles creativity. I want people moving and shaking the earth and they’re going to make mistakes.”

“Failures are like skinned knees, painful but superficial.”

“Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.”

“Inventories can be managed, but people must be led.”

“Talk is cheap. Words are plentiful. Deeds are precious.”

“You don’t have to be the biggest to beat the biggest.”

“We have to succeed, so we will.”

“I care about what you can do. I care about what you’ve done lately. Because this is a cross-country run, it’s not a 100 yard dash; one quick race is not a business career.”

“Something in human nature causes us to start slacking off at our moment of greatest accomplishment. As you become successful, you will need a great deal of self-discipline not to lose your sense of balance, humility, and commitment.”

—H. Ross Perot, Entrepreneur and Founder of EDS