7 Pieces of Timeless Business Wisdom

Timeless WisdomSome business advice changes all the time, but there’s also some advice that’s relevant and useful no matter what year it is, or what business you’re in.
In honor of the new year, we’ve compiled a quick list of 10 bits of wisdom that are as timeless and useful now as they were years ago.

1 — Push through your limitations

“The successful person makes a habit of doing what the failing person doesn’t like to do.”
— Thomas Edison

Business is scary. It can be new, difficult, frustrating, and many other things — but if you push through those limitations and do the things that are hard you might see the best of what business can be: rewarding, lucrative, challenging, and fun.

Pushing yourself can be hard, but it’s worth it in the end.

2 — Never stop improving

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
— Jack Welch

The world changes, and things are always moving forward. In order to keep up, it’s critical to always learn and always improve.

In business, the companies who are most successful are the ones who keep learning, keep improving, and keep adapting.

3 — Action is more important than talk

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”
— Walt Disney

We’ve all heard the cliche before, actions speak louder than words; but it has real truth in business. Action is what matters, not talk, or ideas, or even how much money you have. If business success is what you want, than you need to take action.

4 — Success takes hard work

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.”
— Albert Einstein

Doing well in business requires effort. A lot of effort.

Those who achieve the most are often the ones who are the most passionate, and most determined to reach their goals — because they devote themselves to the cause and put in the effort that others cant. It takes time, but with focus and hard work you’ll almost always do well.

5 — Hard work brings happiness (and success)

“Satisfaction does not come with achievement, but with effort. Full effort is full victory.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

Even the best intentions and efforts don’t always lead to where you thought, but that’s okay, because it isn’t the goal that counts. The act of giving yourself to a cause, and working with your full ability, is what will bring real satisfaction.

And if you put in your whole effort, you’re still much more likely to get what you want, too.

6 — Don’t be afraid of failure

“Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes its built on catastrophe.”
— Sumner Redstone

Being afraid of doing something wrong is human nature, but it’s not in your best interest. Failing is one of the best ways to learn, and is often one of the only ways to become truly successful.

Fail early, fail often, and don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes.

7 — Strive to provide something great

“A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.”
— Steve Jobs

Perhaps the most important piece of advice in business is to create something that is great and valuable. If you can provide your customers with a great product or a great service, chances are they’ll come back for more and tell their friends too.

Learn to understand your customers, learn what they really need, and then do your best to provide them with that. Even when all else fails, providing an awesome product will usually lead to success.

What’s your advice?

We’ve only covered a small fraction of the timeless business advice, there’s a lot more out there that we either didn’t find or didn’t have time to include.

What do you think is the most important thing to know in business?

What has been the biggest help in your situation?


  1. says

    What a great list of wisdom! I especially like #5. I know that for me personally, I am so happy and proud of a project that I’ve worked hard on. I think it goes hand in hand with striving to provide something great. It’s especially convenient when you freelance doing something you love.

    #6 is a tough one, as it’s something we all naturally tend to lean towards. Failure can be a scary situation, but there is almost always a way for us to keep ourselves from failing. Seek advice from a mentor, collaborate with other creatives, or just discover new ways to be creative!

    (editorial note: Mason, in #2, you have “In order to keep, up it’s…”. Move the comma to after “up” :-D)

  2. says

    Hey David, glad you enjoyed the article.

    #5 is definitely a great piece of advice, though my favorite is #3. Becoming decisive and disciplined was one of the biggest challenges I faced early on in business, and looking back on that now gives me a good reminder of what I’ve learned.

    Thanks for the editorial catch :-)

    – Mason

  3. says

    A great list of wisdom! And I really like the way you found some terrific quotes for each one too!

    My favourite is #6 Don’t be afraid of failure.

    About working hard, happiness and success in #4-5, I think that is true if you are working in an area you truly enjoy and believe in.

    Again, great read!

    Happy New Year!

  4. Mirko says

    Really a wonderfull list and the quotes are well chosen (I like quotes). I think beeing afraid of failure is my weakest point and that stops me to take action. So #6 is my virtual kick in the butt. Thank you.

  5. Sonu says

    Hi Mason,
    First of all, Wish you and yours Happy New Year 2009!!! :)

    Till date, I was regular reader (of course silent!) of yours & other’s articles. Actually, I love to read all of your freelancer’s writing. But I hardly miss your one. The above one is really nice and wonderful list with wonderful quotes and worth to accept in life. I have bookmarked it. :)
    Keep it up!
    With best wishes,

  6. says

    Really nice post! It takes time and thought to put posts like this together – thank you!

    One of the things that I might add is “Make investments in people” – We really can’t succeed in business or many other endeavors without the sometimes intangible capital that others bring to our work and lives (and our blogs)! The investments in time and energy that we make in our relationships will make us richer and more successful in the end.

    Take care,
    Julie Wight

  7. says

    Hi Mason,

    First of all, Happy New Year!!!

    Your article is wonderful, and very nicely quoted… I would like to take it a print out & put it on our office’s Notice board for others to read…

    Thanks for such a wonderful article.

    Synergy Informatics

  8. says

    You get what you pitch for. Ensure that you present yourself in the best possible light. Let’s be clear, displaying your business in a badly written, poorly created, low budget, unattractive, same as everyone else light – guess what you get? Exactly what you pitched for! A small piece of the low budget, same as everyone else, unattractive market and your prospects will suspect that if they do business with you, they will get more of the same!
    Have a great year.

  9. says

    Behind every successful ventures there many unsuccessful ones. So business is all about resilience and fortitude. Never back-off from risks because of failures. Start every new venture like a new chapter. Make strategies. Note down earlier mistakes and don’t repeat them.If success is acme then business is not an elevator in fact, its a collection of steps.

  10. says

    My business advice – outsource what you don’t absolutely love to do, what can be done by another, and what doesn’t directly generate revenue for your business.

  11. says

    I like this kind of articles. Finally human nature is not that complicated neither. I now know two more things tham may or may not be included in this list. I have learnt it from my own experience. First of all, if you do good things, only good things are going to happen to you. It does not mean only nice things, just good, and by good it includes horrific failures too. The second is thta you need to keep on going. never stops. Did ya fail? ok, go to the next step, did ya crush, did ya feel bad, did ya think it is not worth anymore…never ever stops, keep going, that’s the only way to reach your goals.

    thank you for such an advice.

  12. says

    Can I add another to this excellent list?

    Remember it’s not personal – the people who make your life hell aren’t doing it because they hate you, they’re doing it for their own best reasons and the world isn’t out to get you… well, not personally at least – because you’re not that special! :)


  13. Randy Polloso says

    my advice – compete! Lead the pack. Love your customers and know their needs.
    have a blessed new year!

  14. says

    Great thoughts to start the year 2009. We are still at the start of the year and these thoughts or as the author says Timeless Business Wisdom is something you can print and post it somewhere on your reminder’s wall :-)

    I like #2 and #7. It reminds me of how Nokia started from a wood-pulp mill to a world leader in digital technologies, including mobile phones, telecommunications networks, wireless data solutions and multimedia terminals. I am not a fan of Nokia but the story of how the company evolves from point A to point B is what I really admire.

    I also like #5 and that is also true from the very words of Mahatma Gandhi that the act of giving yourself to a cause, and working with your full ability, is what will bring real satisfaction. … Full effort is full victory.

  15. elysiumentor says

    Great post!!!
    Change is the law of nature not progress. I like this line very much. I think this as one of the main reasons why many successful people also fail. You have already talked about improving always, it just complements that. :)

    My personal favorite is #5 “Satisfaction does not come with achievement, but with effort. Full effort is full victory.”— Mahatma Gandhi.
    In Hindu mythology there is one line from Geeta in sanskrit says it all:
    Karmanyevadhikaraste ma falseshu kadachana.(Give it all you have for every thing you do, without seeking results)

  16. says

    All of these points are vital, at least I believe, to any successfull business. I would also add giving your clients/customers the time and attention they deserve. This may go hand-in-hand with working hard, because it takes a lot of extra time. But, sending emails with updates on projects, or calling just to check in can make all the difference in the world; it can also be what separates you from your competitors.

  17. says

    i realy enjoyed all the 7 bits of business wisdom, and i think also that imitating the ways of succesful persons is also important, thanks.


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