General George S. Patton is perhaps the most storied commander in the history of the U.S. armed forces. Wikipedia describes him as an American folk hero; I contend the word “folk” is superfluous. Throughout his military career, Patton nearly won a medal in the Olympics, tracked Pancho Villa and fought in both World Wars. During World War I, he inspired his men by riding on top of a tank into battle; in World War II, he became famous for aggressive strategies that ripped through Nazi forces in France and ultimately bore through to Nazi Germany before the war ended. His speech to the 3rd Army was one of the most influential in all of military history. There’s no “folk” about George S. Patton – he is an American hero.

One of Patton’s most admirable qualities was his ability to forge ahead in the face of adversity. Both revered and criticized by his superiors – and beloved by his men – Patton never wavered when challenged. His legacy includes some of the most inspirational quotes ever uttered, and many are just as motivational in the business world as they are in the battlefield. Though I would never equate the world of business to the horrors of war, it’s fair to say that entrepreneurs and small business owners often face challenges that seem insurmountable. Finding a way to forge forward, just as Patton would, is how you reach the greatest heights of business success. Thus, I present five quotes by General Patton that transfer to the business world.


  1. “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

Perfectionism is a business killer. There’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection, but if you’re waiting for everything to be perfect you’ll never get your product, service or company off the ground. Make sure what you have is good, and then push it with everything you have.

  1. “By perseverance, study and eternal desire, any man can become great.”

Anyone who has launched a start-up business knows how long hours, constant preparation, challenging decisions, the pressure of risk and even feelings of despair can make it easy to quit. Facing those challenges head-on and finding a way to meet them – fueled by your desire to succeed – is the path to greatness.

  1. “A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”

Operating a successful business takes hard work, and sometimes it’s tough to go the extra mile – especially after you’ve already spent the day putting out fires. But putting that extra effort in now will save time, money or hassle later. It might even save your entire business.

  1. “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

Always strive for new and innovative ideas. Think outside the box to find ways to achieve solidarity with your customers and reach them where your competitors are not. Get creative with your product and service offering, marketing and business model. Do what others will not do, and you can have what others cannot have.

  1. “No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.”

If you operate a small business, sometimes you have to get out of the office and get your hands dirty. Understand your customers, your market, your products, your employees. Know what problems your customers have. Experience those problems yourself. Be a hands-on leader.


What’s your favorite quote for business motivation?