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The 20 Best Thomas Edison Quotes That Apply to Business

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was an American businessman and inventor who has been described as the greatest American inventor of all time. He was born in Ohio in 1847, and he is best known for his inventions in the fields of sound recording, electric power generation, motion pictures, and mass communication. Although he died in 1931, Edison remains an inspiration to many people, and his quotes are often used for motivational purposes. Here are the 20 best Thomas Edison quotes that apply to business.

20. On Making Progress

“Restlessness is discontent, and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.”

Wanting more from life is the first step towards making progress, according to this Thomas Edison quote. Feeling discontent is often what gives people the drive to become successful. Therefore, it acts as a form of motivation.

19. On Meeting the Needs of Consumers

“Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.”

Thomas Edison did not see the point of inventing things that people did not want or need as they would not sell. You can apply the same principles to business as it is vital that you are offering products and services that people want. If people do not want what you are offering, then you will struggle to sell things or to encourage people to use your services. Therefore, you will not have a profitable and successful business.

18. On the Importance of Trial and Error

“When I have fully decided that a result is worth getting, I go ahead of it and make trial after trial until it comes.”

You will not always get things right the first time. Often, you will need to use a process of trial and error to get your products or services right, or to find the processes that work best for you. Trial and error is a useful process, and it doesn’t mean that because things do not work out the first time around that you will not have success.

17. On Having Focus

“The best thinking is done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.”

To make good decisions and to work to the best of your ability, you need to always stay focused. When you are feeling distracted, it is hard to work well and it can affect your decision making. Try to get some quiet time away from other people to get your thoughts in order.

16. On Turning Your Ideas into Reality

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”

Plenty of people have ideas, but not everybody puts their ideas into action. If you have an idea, then it is not worth anything if you are not willing to do something about them. They will simply remain ideas and dreams. Once you are willing to take action, you have taken the first step towards making your dreams a reality.

15. On Having Courage

“Be courageous. I have seen many depressions in business. Always America has emerged from these stronger and more prosperous. Be as brave as your fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward!”

Starting a business is scary as there are many unknowns. Many people fear these unknowns and they also fear failure. Facing these fears and going ahead with your ideas can seem scary, but you will not know unless you try. This takes a lot of courage, but it is only those who have the courage that will have a chance of success.

14. On Putting Your Ideas into Action

“Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.”

This Thomas Edison quote is listed on It is about having the courage to put your ideas into action, then continuing to work on them to develop a business. It is common for people to give up at the first hurdle as they lack self-belief. However, if you believe that you can do something, then you are part of the way there to achieving your dreams.

13. On Enjoying Your Work

“I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.”

Work accounts for a large proportion of your life, so you will have a much more enjoyable life if you are happy at work. You should choose a career path that you are passionate about, as this will mean you get as much enjoyment out of life as possible. Choosing a career that you do not enjoy will mean that your chances of living a happy life are limited. Enjoying your work will also mean that you have more motivation to put effort into every task and to carry a business forward.

12. On Finding the Best Ways of Doing Things

“There’s a way to do it better. Find it.”

If something is not working well, then work out what you can do to fix the situation. Even if a strategy you are using is going well but you think things could work better, you should try to find other ways of working that are more efficient and effective.

11. On Enjoying the Journey to Success

“One might think that the money value of an invention constitutes its reward to the man who loves his work. But… I continue to find my greatest pleasure, and so my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success.”

Often, people think that achieving all your goals is when you have become successful, and they only focus on getting to this point. However, there are lots of things to enjoy along the way. For example, you will probably set yourself smaller or short-term goals that help you work towards your main or long-term goals. You should appreciate the minor successes along the way and enjoy the progress you make.

10. On Using Your Time Constructively

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends, there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

Becoming successful is a long process that takes work along the way. Although you are always working towards your short-term and long-term goals, there are many different types of tasks that you will need to complete to achieve these goals. Sometimes, it may feel like you are not making process. However, every task you complete is another step towards success. If you continue to complete tasks to get to your goals, then you are using your time constructively.

9. On Turning Failures into Success

“Results! Why, man, I have gotten lots of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work.”

Thomas Edison had a good attitude towards his failures. He saw them as the results of things that did not work. It is only by making mistakes and experiencing failures that he was able to progress with his work and enjoy many successes. You should look at your failures in the same way. They are part of a learning curve that will help you to find better ways of doing things in the future.

8. On Working Hard

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Edison believed that having a good idea is only a small part of becoming successful. It also takes a lot of hard work. If you want to turn your ideas into business success, then prepare yourself to put in a lot of effort to achieve your dreams. It is the effort you put in and not necessarily the ideas that will get you where you want in life.

7. On Having the Right Attitude

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are hard work, stick-to-itiveness, and common sense.”

Having the right attitude to your work is vital for success. Edison believed that there were three main elements to this. First, he believed that you need to work hard in life. Second, you need to stick to doing something once you have started, in his opinion. Finally, you must use your common sense when making business decisions. If you get all three things right, then you will have a better chance of becoming successful in your business ventures.

6. On Embracing Opportunities

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

This Thomas Edison quote is listed on Brainy Quote. It is about not taking up opportunities in life if it looks like they will be hard work. If you miss opportunities, then you might never get them again. Therefore, you should take up any opportunities that arise, even if it means you will have to work hard.

5. On Trying Your Best

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

A common reason why people fail in business is that they give up too easily. They hit a point where they face challenges or fail at a task, then they give up. If you want to achieve your goals, then you must face any challenges head-on, and find ways to overcome the difficulties. Edison advised trying things one more time and always trying your best at any task you undertake.

4. On Being Flexible

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it is useless.”

To make things work in your business, you should try to adopt a flexible approach rather than being too rigid. If things are not going the way you expected, it does not necessarily mean you have had bad ideas. Sometimes, you just need to adapt your approach to a situation. This flexibility will allow you to try new ways of doing things until you find the way that works best.

3. On Thinking Outside the Box

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.”

You will face many challenges during your business journey. Some of these you will resolve quickly and easily, while others are more difficult to resolve. If you are struggling to find a solution to a problem, then start thinking outside the box. Even when it seems impossible to overcome a situation, there is usually a solution to the problem. If you are having trouble thinking of a solution yourself, then speak to other members of your team. It is possible they will look at the problem from a fresh perspective, and that they will have new ideas for you to try.

2. On Reaching Your Full Potential

“If we did all the things we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”

It is surprising what each person is capable of achieving. Sometimes, people do not have enough self-belief to reach their full potential. If you start believing in yourself, then you might surprise even yourself with the things that you can achieve. Having self-belief will also mean that others believe that you can reach your full potential. Your own self-belief is what will keep you motivated and working towards your goals.

1. On Never Giving Up

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close to success they were when they gave up.”

According to Goalcast, this is the best Thomas Edison quote that applies to business. It is about how many people give up on their dreams just before they become successful as they do not realize how close they are to succeeding. This suggests that you should never give up, even when things seem tough. Face your fears and challenges, find ways to overcome them, and continue to progress towards your goals.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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