18 Inspirational Quotes from James Altucher about Entrepreneurship

James Altucher

By JamesAltucher [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

James Altucher is a man who, throughout his life and career, has worn many hats. He has seen successes and failures in his entrepreneurial endeavors and makes a point to learn from each experience. He has now taken part in founding 20 companies and is widely recognized for his work as a hedge fund manager and entrepreneur. As an author of multiple best-selling books and a wildly popular blog, Jamess words of advice and expertise have made an impact on many entrepreneurs around the world, including myself. Even Mark Cuban claims to “always learn something” from reading Altucher’s blog posts.

Here I have gathered 18 of his most inspirational quotes about entrepreneurship.

“Everyone is an entrepreneur. The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur are the ability to fail, to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on them, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure.”

He makes it sound so easy. But what he is saying is really true; there is an entrepreneur in everyone if we can only locate and exploit these skills properly.

“The absolute best, surefire way to make a good living is to help someone else make a good living.”

Entrepreneurs should always keep this in mind. Find a way to help other people and other businesses succeed, and that is what will make you successful. 

“Entrepreneurs can’t use the excuse that “I don’t have time, I’m running a business.” This is your business.”

Time Flies

Touché, James. No more excuses.

“The rise of corporatism (as opposed to capitalism) forced people into cubicles instead of out into the world, exploring and inventing and manifesting.”

Entrepreneurship is very much about creating the freedom to explore and be adventurous. It creates an environment where innovation and creativity flourish. So let’s do that as entrepreneurs. Let’s get out there and discover.

“Robots are the new middle class. And everyone else will either be an entrepreneur or a temp staffer.”

Another hint here to get out there and do something. Take charge and design your own career. Create your own job. Otherwise your choices seem pretty grim.

“If you don’t give yourself permission to create a new world, chances are nobody else will.”

Give yourself the permission to take a slow leap into entrepreneurship. You don’t need permission from anybody else. Only you can make yourself an entrepreneur.

“Mastery begins when formal education ends.”

James urges entrepreneurs to stop thinking of our learning as a formal, forced education. Instead, we can learn about those things that make us tick to become masters in subjects of our choosing. Through reading, apprenticeship, applied skills, and free online courses, you can master your education without getting deep in debt to pay for college.

“Nothing ever works out when you are at the whims of others. It doesn’t matter if you are an entrepreneur or an employee. Once someone is bribing you to do something (a salary is a form of bribery if you are only doing the work for the money and not for the meaning) then you become a prisoner.”

Prisoner Image

This is so important. No entrepreneur ever succeeded in working for the money or for ‘others.’ You have to love what you do and work for the meaning of your work’s impact. That’s how you build freedom, not the other way around.

“In one column is the list of ideas. In the other column is the list of “First Steps”—only the first step, because you have no idea where that first step will take you.”

Many entrepreneurs have ideas, but what separates an idea from a business is your ability to execute. It’s exciting to think of the times an entrepreneur has taken a first step into an astounding discovery, but it’s on you to take that first step. You have to keep taking those first steps until something clicks.

“Success comes from continually expanding your frontiers in every direction—creatively, financially, spiritually, and physically. Always ask yourself, what can I improve? Who else can I talk to? Where else can I look?”

Building on the idea of constant discovery, you need grow and expand to reach your highest potential. As James suggests, improve 1% everyday and things will compound very quickly. 

“The only truly safe thing you can do is to try over and over again. To go for it, to get rejected, to repeat, to strive, to wish. Without rejection there is no frontier, there is no passion, and there is no magic.”

There is no secret code to being a successful entrepreneur: Fail forward. Those who find success do so after trying and trying again and again. It’s the hardest part of being an entrepreneur or trying to be an expert in one field of the other. In a way, it’s about doing it long enough so that you’ve seen enough. 

“The definition of “success” for me is: “Is today successful?”

The only to be successful in a long run, according to James, is to be present. All you can count on is right now, this moment. If you do all you can to make today successful, you’re moving in the right direction. If you spend your days worrying about the past or being anxious about the future, you are stuck.

“I call this “permission networking”. My network is not the list of how many people I know. The strength of my network is how well everyone on the list of people I know, knows each other. Most people don’t know this important principle.”

I’m always trying to keep this in mind with my own network, because a strong network is an integral part of a strong entrepreneur. There is even more value in building a mastermind network where you bring people together to exchange values. If you are the guy or gal who introduced them, your value increases.

“At any point in your career, you are either a thermostat or a thermometer.”


As entrepreneurs, we strive to be the thermostats.

“I have lots of ideas. How do I pick the right one? Execute on as many as possible. The right idea will pick you.”

You can never know if you don’t try. This goes along with his other suggestion to make a list of first steps – you have to give every idea a shot to be the right idea.

“Be an entrepreneur at work. An “entre-ployee.” Take control of who you report to, what you do, what you create. Or start a business on the side. Deliver some value—any value—to somebody, anybody, and watch that value compound into a career.”

One way to be an entrepreneur is to stop thinking about this title so stereotypically. You can be an entrepreneur at a company you work for. You can negotiate your freedom, and build your career on your own terms. It’s about building a business within a larger business, and finding ways to improve yourself and your business every day.

“IDEAS ARE THE CURRENCY OF LIFE. Not money. Money gets depleted until you go broke. But good ideas buy you good experiences, buy you better ideas, buy you better experiences, buy you more time, save your life.”

Come up with ten ideas a day, according to James, and become the ultimate idea machine. Since ideas are the currency of the twenty first century, you’ll be leading a richer life.

“What can I do right now to move forward, in this second?”

I leave you with this as a nudge from James Altucher. When you click away from reading this blog post, what can you do right now to improve 1% today? Go do it!

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