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7 Quotes for Your Business Startup by Harry Gordon Selfridge



Harry Gordon Selfridge Startup QuotesHarry Gordon Selfridge was born in mid-nineteenth century rural Wisconsin. He is best known for his founding Selfridge’s Department Store on the west end of London’s Oxford Street. This startup was a huge risk as the country had never seen a store of its kind and the market had not been tested for such an American concept. Selfridges was the first retailer of its kind in the UK. The business model was based on Marshall Field’s department store in Chicago where Selfridge had worked for 25 years—rising in the ranks from stocking product to junior partner. He didn’t have a lot of formal education, so his success can only be attributed to his drive and work ethic.

When it came to marketing acumen, Selfridge was ahead of his time. “Only _ More Shopping Days Until Christmas” was a promotional scheme born out of his head and went on to become a staple in retailers’ annual holiday ads even more than a century later. Selfridge lived and breathed the concept of “the customer is always right” and the quotes we share below seem to capture his overall approach to business and success. Some are extremely poignant considering Selfridge ran his business through a World War and the Great Depression. Here are seven things he said that we think will inspire other startups and entrepreneurs:

“There are no hard times for good ideas.”

“The boss says ‘Go’; the leader says ‘Let’s go!’”

“People will sit up and take notice of you if you will sit up and take notice of what makes them sit up and take notice.”

“Honesty always pays. Honesty alone will never build a business… but the policy of honesty, of scrupulous integrity, will—other things being reasonably equal—always win in the race for success.”

“Get the confidence of the public and you will have no difficulty in getting their patronage.”

“Treat [the customer] as guests when they come and when they go, whether or not they buy. Give them all that can be given fairly, on the principle that ‘to him that giveth shall be given’. Remember always that the recollection of quality remains long after the price is forgotten. Then your business will prosper by a natural process.”

“Whenever I may be tempted to slack up and let the business run for a while on its own impetus, I picture my competitor sitting at a desk in his opposition house, thinking and thinking with the most devilish intensity and clearness, and I ask myself what I can do to be prepared for his next brilliant move.”

—Harry Gordon Selfridge, Founder, Selfridge’s Department Store


2 Responses to “7 Quotes for Your Business Startup by Harry Gordon Selfridge”


  1. I had never heard of Harry Gordon Selfridge until watching GCTV or PBS today. I was impressed and it also made me aware how very little I knew in terms of how many other leaders there are in this world besides a Bill Gates and a Mark Zuckerberg. Thank you


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