17 Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs Share Their Secrets for Success

By Bill Murphy Jr. (Inc.com)

Successful entrepreneurs are usually inspired by other successful entrepreneurs. That means that if people don’t have great role models–especially role models in whom they can see themselves–they’re at a big disadvantage.

That’s among the biggest challenges facing women who want to start new ventures. So, here are key quotes from 17 amazingly successful women entrepreneurs. Which do you find most inspiring?

(Know some other women I should have featured? Let me know here.)

1. Sara Blakely

Founder of Spanx, youngest self-made female billionaire in America
“It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.”

2. Shelia Lirio Marcelo

Founder of Care.com
“I think in terms of evolutions, not revolutions. Failure is not part of my vocabulary.”

3. Wendy Kopp

Founder of Teach for America
“Change is not always a process of improvement. Sometimes it’s a process of invention. When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he didn’t start by trying to improve the candle. He decided that he wanted better light and went from there.”

4. Clara Barton

Founder of American Red Cross
“I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.”

5. Martha Stewart

Founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
“My new motto is: When you’re through changing, you’re through.”

6. Anita Roddick

Founder of The Body Shop
“If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.”

7. Tory Burch

Chairman, CEO, and Designer of Tory Burch LLC.
“I think you can have it all. You just have to know it’s going to work.”

8. Arianna Huffington

Founder of The Huffington Post
“Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.”

9. J.K. Rowling


“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all–in which case, you fail by default.”

10. Diane Von Furstenberg

Designer, Founder of DvF
“I wanted to be an independent woman, a woman who could pay for her bills, a woman who could run her own life–and I became that woman.”

11. Angie Hicks

Co-founder of Angie’s List
“I’m going to be the one to make the donuts. I don’t consider myself a big risk-taker. I was presented an opportunity by someone I had a lot of respect for, and I took it.”

12. Madam C.J. Walker

Early 20th century hair and beauty entrepreneur
“I am not merely satisfied in making money for myself, for I am endeavoring to provide employment for hundreds of women of my race…. I want to say to every Negro woman present, don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!”

13. Elizabeth Arden

Founder of Elizabeth Arden Inc. cosmetics
“Dear, never forget one little point. It’s my business. You just work here.”

14. Coco Chanel

Founder of Chanel
“May my legend prosper and thrive. I wish it a long and happy life.”

15. Estee Lauder

Founder of Estee Lauder Companies
“I didn’t get where I am by thinking about it or dreaming it. I got there by doing it.”

16. Debbi Fields

Founder of Mrs. Fields Bakeries
“Good enough never is.”

17. Rashmi Sinha

Founder of SlideShare
“I think it is going to be hard to trace a specific event that made me want to be an entrepreneur. I like independence. I like to build things. Being an entrepreneur allows me to do both.”

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