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7 Quotes from Steve Case on Small Business, Vision, and Risk Taking

Steve Case Small Business AdviceSteve Case is well known as the man who grew America Online from an online services company, linking gamers using Commodore 64 computers into one of the foremost Internet media companies in the world, culminating with its acquisition of TimeWarner.

The company pioneered social media, launching services like instant messaging and chat rooms, and was the first experience that millions of people ever had with the Internet. Today, the company still has nearly 3 million subscribers to its online software. And Mr. Case is now known for his philanthropy and investments in health care.

Mr. Case played a pivotal role in launching and growing his small business to incredible success. Here are six things he said along that way that might inspire other small business owners:

“If you’re doing something new you’ve got to have a vision. You’ve got to have a perspective. You’ve got to have some north star you’re aiming for, and you just believe somehow you’ll get there, which kind of gets to the passion point.”

“It’s stunning to me what kind of an impact even one person can have if they have the right passion, perspective and are able to align the interest of a great team.”

“…most people don’t take risks, and most people are pretty traditional. It’s actually a relatively small number of people that really are those risk takers, and a relatively small number of people that end up really having an impact on the world, and it doesn’t take a lot of people. It just takes a few people who really care and stick with it…”

“And I’d say one of the great lessons I’ve learned over the past couple of decades, from a management perspective, is that really when you come down to it, it really is all about people and all about leadership.”

“If you believe that some day it’s going to happen, some day it probably will happen. You just have to make sure you’re there when it’s happening, and ideally you’re at the front of the parade, and the principle beneficiary of when it happens, but it’s not a kind of thing where you just sort of sit back and wait.”

“Keep your eye on the prize and focus on your mission. Remember what you’re trying to do, what your value is, why it’s important, and at the same time, change course and direction. If the market’s telling you different things how are you going to adjust to that?”

“You can be entrepreneurial even if you don’t want to be in business. You can be a social entrepreneur focused on the not-for-profit sector. You can be an agriculture entrepreneur if you want to change how people think about farming. You can be a policy entrepreneur if you want to go into government. The idea of an entrepreneur is really thinking out of the box and taking risks and stepping up to major challenges.”

—Steve Case, Entrepreneur, Former CEO of AOL/Time Warner