An independent retailer’s journey to success is full of twists and turns.

Building your business is not easy. Sometimes, you need a pep talk or extra dose of inspiration to keep things going. And we’ve got you — that’s why we’ve rounded up 25 of the most inspiring retail quotes from some of business’s greatest minds. Feel free to bookmark this page, send it to your small business networking groups, print out the quotes that you love the most, and visit our Pinterest for even more inspiration.

On getting started:

“The only thing worse than starting something and failing is not starting something.”  – Seth Godin, Author

Key Takeaway: It’s hard (and even scary) to start a business, but fear of failure often holds us back from accomplishing great things. Unless you get started, you’ll never find out if you’ll fail or succeed. The answer is worth knowing.

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.” – Unknown

Key Takeaway: There’s who you are right now, and there’s who you want to be in the future. The difference between those two versions of yourself are the steps you’ve taken vs. those you haven’t. Take action and make moves to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.

jill konrath inspiring retail quotes shopkeepOn innovation:

“What differentiates sellers today is their ability to bring fresh ideas.” –  Jill Konrath, Author

Key Takeaway: You can’t expect to be super successful by doing the same exact thing as somebody else. Adding your own twist or creating something totally original is what will set you apart and help differentiate your business from others like it.

On modern retail:

“A store has got to be much more than a place to acquire merchandise. It’s got to help people enrich their lives. If the store just fulfills a specific product need, it’s not creating new types of value for the consumer. It’s transacting. Any website can do that.” – Ron Johnson, Former CEO of J.C. Penney

Key Takeaway: Thanks to eCommerce, almost anything that can be bought in a store can be found online. This doesn’t mean the death of the retail store is here, it just means that a physical store now fulfills different desires. It’s not enough to just be a place that sells things – a store should be a destination, a community, a space that cannot be easily digitized or replicated.

“The thing is, I don’t want to be sold to when I walk into a store. I want to be welcomed.” – Angela Ahrendts, former SVP of Retail, Apple Inc.

Key Takeaway: Remember that your retail store is a place where your customers can go to have meaningful human interactions. Create a warm and welcoming environment with your retail store design and by hiring friendly sales associates.

paulo coelho inspiring retail quotes shopkeepOn risk taking:

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” – Paulo Coelho, author  

Key Takeaway: Experience is one of the greatest teachers, and taking risks teaches us some of the best life lessons.

On leadership:

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric

Key Takeaway: A good business owner or manager not only has great dreams and plans, they communicate their plans effectively to manage projects from start to finish.

On technology:

“Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without talking about the other.”  – Bill Gates

Key Takeaway: The gap between small businesses and technology is shrinking every day. To succeed in today’s world, you business should be equipped with powerful tools that work together in order to grow.

“One order management system, one database, one inventory. Without these you will never seem seamless to your customer.” – Andy Laudato, COO of The Vitamin Shoppe

Key Takeaway: Everything is easier when it’s all in one system. Run your business seamlessly with a commerce solution that keeps your inventory synced across all platforms.

“You cannot run a successful retail business from memory.” – John Hartford, Composer

Key Takeaway:  As a small business owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate remember. And that’s okay! That’s totally normal. That’s why the most successful businesses have extra hands or tools that help them manage the minor details, so that they can focus on the bigger picture.

michael john bobak inspirational retail quotes shopkeep posOn progress:

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” – Michael John Bobak, Artist

Key Takeaway: Growth is uncomfortable, but necessary. Gaining experience with things you never thought you’d have to know or do will give you the insights and experiences you need to take your business to the next level.

On success:

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

Key Takeaway: Although it may seem like it, success doesn’t magically come out of nowhere. Hard, behind-the-scenes work is the key ingredient to a thriving business.

“The secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well.” – John D. Rockefeller, Jr., businessman and philanthropist

Key Takeaway: If you do what you do exceptionally well, you’ll have a much greater chance at success than doing it at an average level.

On creating brand advocates:

“The more advocates you have, the fewer ads you have to buy.”  – Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of HubSpot

Key Takeaway: The best retailers understand the powers of customer loyalty and word of mouth marketing. 13% of all sales are driven by word of mouth, and customers who have an emotional connection with a brand have a lifetime value 3 times higher than those who don’t. Starting a loyalty program, prioritizing your customer service, and strengthening your social media marketing are all ways you can start building a loyal customer base for your retail business.

“Make a customer, not a sale.” – Katherine Barchetti, Founder of K. Barchetti Shops 

Key Takeaway:  What’s better than making a sale? Turning that sale into a regular customer. The world’s most successful brands know that building a consistent and clear identity and experience can bridge the gap between a one-time visit and full-on regular. Just ask Glossier and Kendra Scott.

“Repeat business or behavior can be bribed. Loyalty has to be earned.”  – Janet Robinson, ex-CEO The New York Times Company

Key Takeaway: Any business can tack on a discount or send a sale email, but customer loyalty is something that’s cultivated carefully over time. And it’s worth it, too – increasing your customer retention by just 5% can boost profits by 25% all the way up to 95%.

“Let your store associates be active on social. “Friendorsers” are more important than paid models in showing our clothes – social influencers, but also our store associates, who are 100% our customers too.” – Emily Watkins, SVP, Real Estate & Construction, Charlotte Russe

Key Takeaway: It might be tempting to curb your employees’ social media activity, but word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful forms of marketing there is. Studies show that 92% of people trust product recommendations from friends or family. Your store associates can easily reach their closest circle of friends by posting about your business on their personal social media pages.

On getting creative:

“Creativity is just connecting things.” ― Steve Jobs

Key Takeaway: Building your business from the ground up and connecting it all together is actually a form of creativity! As a retailer, you’re constantly brainstorming new and better ways to run your business, which takes a ton of creative input.

On customer service:

“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company” – Tony Hsieh, former CEO of Zappos

Key Takeaway: Great customer service should touch all aspects of your retail business, from every employee to every touchpoint (including in-store experiences, your social media accounts, emails, and your website).

“Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, Co-Founder of Google

Key Takeaway: In today’s competitive market, going above and beyond is a great way to stand out against your competitors as well as big box retailers. People notice when businesses take the time to go the extra mile.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Key Takeaway: Emotions are powerful. One bad experience can turn customers away from your business for good. Cultivate strong, positive emotions with your store’s branding, as well as within your company culture.

On technology:

“Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without talking about the other.”  – Bill Gates

Key Takeaway: The gap between small businesses and technology is shrinking every day. To succeed in today’s world, you business should be equipped with powerful tools that work together in order to grow.

“One order management system, one database, one inventory. Without these you will never seem seamless to your customer.” – Andy Laudato, COO of The Vitamin Shoppe

Key Takeaway: Everything is easier when it’s all in one system. Run your business seamlessly with a commerce solution that keeps your inventory synced across all platforms.

“You cannot run a successful retail business from memory.” – John Hartford, Composer

Key Takeaway:  As a small business owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate remember. And that’s okay! That’s totally normal. That’s why the most successful businesses have extra hands or tools that help them manage the minor details, so that they can focus on the bigger picture.

On clarity:

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

― Steve Jobs

Key Takeaway:  Having simple systems in place to run your business is easier said than done, but the difference is huge. By investing in easy-to-use software to help you manage your inventory online and in store, monitor your employees on the floor, take payments, and more, you’ll save much-needed time and help your business grow even quicker.

On iterating:

“Every action is an opportunity to improve.” ― Mark Graban, Author

Key Takeaway: There’s always room for improvement. In an ever-changing retail environment, every choice you make and every interaction you have with your customers and employees can be made better.

On looking ahead:

“Change before you have to.”  – Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric

Key Takeaway: The COVID-19 pandemic taught many of us this lesson the hard way. By adopting flexible tools that make it easier for your retail business to take contactless payments and sell online, you’ll be better prepared for whatever tomorrow brings.

“Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.” ― David Bowie

Key Takeaway: Successful brands are currently researching and pivoting early to the next big things. Are you? To stay in the know about what’s next for retail, tune in regularly to industry publications like NRF, Retail Dive, Independent Retailer.

What’s your favorite quote? Do you have a quote that we didn’t include in this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

emily polner shopkeep

Emily Polner

As the Content Writer at ShopKeep, Emily brings her passion, knowledge, and expertise to give you helpful tips on how to take your business to the next level. Her work has helped thousands of small business owners and entrepreneurs achieve major milestones. You can follow her on LinkedIn.