39 Startup Founders Share Their Favorite Quotes from America’s Founding Fathers

In honor of Independence Day, we reached out to founders and asked them to share with us their favorite quotes from America’s own Founding Fathers. Whether relevant to the goals of their respective startups or simply relevant to the everyday struggles and motivations of being a startup founder, the following quotes will hopefully inspire you to keep pushing for the American Dream. After all, if our Founding Fathers could successfully start and lead an entire country, you can certainly do the same with a startup.

“The purpose of money is to purchase the freedom to pursue that which was useful and interesting.” – Benjamin Franklin

I read The First American, a biography on Franklin, and am continually amazed at the many, and varied innovations Franklin contributed throughout his life. It resonates with me that money is not an end unto itself, rather a means to pursue useful work. – Morris Gelblum, Founder and Chief Sweeper of Sweeps

“If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him.” – Benjamin Franklin

To me, there is no greater security than an investment in knowledge. The more I learn, the more confident and secure I feel about my future. My education will stay with me forever, and as Mr. Franklin said, “no one can take it from me.” So, even if I were to lose everything now, I would still walk away with my expertise, and that can’t be measured in any amount of currency. – Amad Ebrahimi, Founder of Merchant Maverick

“Here sir, the people govern.” – Alexander Hamilton

I run a small company. We have 25 employees and everyone’s opinions are valuable. Hamilton’s words remind me that acting unilaterally is not in the best interest of my team or my company. – Blaine Vess, Cofounder and CEO of StudyMode

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin

All the successful entrepreneurs I know (including Starbucks’ Howard Schultz) have told me the two most important things to remember are to never give up and adapt based on feedback. – Mary Egan, Founder and CEO of Gatheredtable

This quote by Benjamin Franklin rings true for me while when most people would have quit, I’ve only been fueled harder to succeed. I’ve come this far and there’s going to be no looking back for this entrepreneur. – Lori Cheek, Founder and CEO of Cheekd

It acts as a constant reminder that when things don’t grow in straight lines, there is always another way and always tomorrow. – Sam Bruce, Cofounder of Much Better Adventures

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” – Alexander Hamilton

Having a point of view is essential to understanding. It drives me crazy when someone does a lot of research and then says “we have three options, which one shall we pick?” Really? You spent all that time and don’t have a point of view? Being clear about who you are, what you stand for and where you are going makes a complex world vastly simpler. – James Green, CEO of Magnetic

I think it’s essential for good entrepreneurs, leaders in general, to be firm and principled. Having strong views allows one to make difficult decisions rapidly. Having strong principles ensures that the DNA of a company (or country) is rooted in something tangible and aspirational, which is what protects and enables the greater vision and long-term viability. – Krishna Gupta, Founder and Managing Partner, Romulus Capital

“A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.” – Thomas Jefferson

This is important to me because no matter how large your company grows, it’s imperative to treat your employees and business partners with respect and dignity. Not because you want to be a “good boss/leader” but because they’re human beings and deserve that fundamental right. – Carl Forrest, Founder of DataSet|Go

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

This quote has guided me from a young age throughout school and business. I find that you have one chance to make an impression, sale, etc. You need to be over prepared if you want to ensure a successful outcome. Preparing involves understanding all angles of whatever you are about to do, having clearly defined goals, and a structured plan of attack. – Alex Kravets, Founder of CogniTea

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” – Thomas Jefferson

An entrepreneur’s journey consists in studying the past and being present, but most of all, seeing a future where the ideas he puts into motion have taken root and propagated. It reminds me to look ahead and seize opportunities. – Philip Racusin, Cofounder and CEO of EnergyFunders

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” – Thomas Paine

As a PR/Marketing strategist who works with many startups, I can also relate personally and professionally. There are times in my life where I have dusted myself off and reinvented myself … such as going from employee to entrepreneur. – Samuella Becker, Founder and CEO, TigressPR

“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” – George Washington

A startup like any great battle you undertake in life is championed by perseverance. Getting users, finding money, building great products all takes this and the spirit to achieve goals. – Mike McAllen, Cofounder of AVforPlanners

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

I think it encapsulates what startups need to remember every day: that execution is more important than strategy. That quote reminds me to only spend so much energy drawing up grand plans, so I have more energy to actually get stuff done. – Chris Kelly, Founder and CEO of Survata

This quote encourages me to make the best product and always strive for improvement. You can talk a good game, but it only matters if your product can back it up. – Laura Lopuch, Founder of RuffArmor

“To be good and to do good is all we have to do.” – John Adams

This is how I live my life and run my business. I always want to do the best for my customers and their dogs with every interaction. I also give back to the community by donating proceeds from my book signings or events to local rescues. – Lisa Hennessy, Founder of Your Pet Chef

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

The fight for our freedom is won every day by preventing small erosions, which resonates with me because entrepreneurship gives me what I value most in life…my freedom. – Jody Forness, Founder of Pens for Bartenders

“A people…who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.” – George Washington

This quote speaks volumes to me as an entrepreneurs as I truly believe entrepreneurs would never take the risks they do if they didn’t believe they could achieve anything. Entrepreneurs see value for others and themselves and aren’t afraid to pursue their dreams. – Rachel Olsen, Founder of Best Mom Products

“Beware of rashness, but with energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward, and give us victories.” – Abraham Lincoln

[It’s] valuable guidance for any startup trying to prove a relatively unknown market. A good reminder to make the most informed decisions you can at the time and work hard towards each small victory. – Teddy Daiber, Cofounder and CEO of Poolit

“Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee.” – Benjamin Franklin

I have always been a major believer in investing 100% of myself in my businesses, and putting the welfare of my customers and my employees above all else. While this requires substantial personal sacrifice in the short term, I have faith that my efforts will pay off in the long run. I believe the ability to delay gratification and take the long view are two essential traits for a successful entrepreneur… – Vishaal Melwani, Cofounder and CEO of Combatant Gentlemen

“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” – Thomas Jefferson

This quote may sound like common sense. But, it bears repeating over and over again because a business owner must utilize his time efficiently. The freedoms of running your own business allow for idle time, vacations and lazy afternoons. But every successful business person understands that your day must be comprised of hard work, dedication and persistence. Stay busy and remain focused on your business at all times. The rewards will come later. – Ron Holt, Founder and CEO of Two Maids & A Mop

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

Founding a company – or a country – takes a great deal of work. You can’t sit back and hope things happen for you; you have to take action, and work hard to achieve your goals. Only then will you see the pieces fall into place. – Lisa Falzone, Cofounder and CEO of Revel Systems iPad POS

It reminds me not to be frustrated or envious when I hear about companies raising massive rounds of funding or otherwise getting “lucky”. What seems like luck is actually most likley due to months or years of working incredibly hard; the best thing we as a team can do is double down and work even harder. – Sarah Press, Cofounder and CEO of Project Fixup

“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind…Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.” – Thomas Jefferson

TJ literally meant a gun, but we read this quote as a metaphor. And that’s because, in modernity, the laptop’s even more powerful than the gun ever was. And it’s the weapon of choice for the modern freelancer and entrepreneur. To us, the modern hero is someone who bucks the 9-5 lifestyle and faces the uncertainty of freelance work or building a company head on. It’s a bit more worrisome, but we argue it’s also more natural. Work when you want, on whatever you want. Jefferson’s quote has special meaning for us, because not only are we taking that risk as entrepreneurs, but we’re also making it easier for others to as well. – Teja Yenamandra, Cofounder of Gun.io

“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.” – George Washington

I usually understand it like this: as a startup founder, don’t dwell on the failures of the past but focus on the possibilities of the future! It’s very comforting. – Diane Eschenbach, Cofounder of Sands Technologies

“That government is best which governs least.” – Thomas Jefferson

At ReferralPop we have an open book policy and strive to be as transparent as possible with our team. Everyone is involved with every decision we make. Things like revenues and expenses are openly shared. No one is micro-managed. – Sean Heilweil, Cofounder and CEO of ReferralPop

“Whenever you do something, act as if all the world were watching.” – Thomas Jefferson

I love Thomas Jefferson. After all, it’s the name of my father (Thomas Jefferson McManus). Most everything he said still rings true today, but I think this quote is a lesson to everybody in business. It means that we have to be responsible for our actions, choose what we do wisely, and be prepared to live with our decisions. – Matt McManus, Founder of Bokos

“Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin

My co-founder and I wake up at 5:30am every morning to start work. We believe that this gives us time to discuss our product goals and review technology trends. It also keeps us ahead of the day and in a professional mindset when we meet with customers and investors. – Ted Hadjisavas, Cofounder and COO of Spruce.la

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” – Thomas Paine

It just reminds me that entrepreneurship is hard and when things are not going well or it seems overwhelming, just remember the “harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” – Aron Susman, Cofounder of TheSquareFoot

“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.” – Patrick Henry

Everyday as an entrepreneur I remind myself that success come from failures and failures come from experience. This quote helps remind to me to trust my intuition and above all, continue on a path of excellence. – Baylor Barbee, Founder of Ikanik Strategy

Although this isn’t the most famous quote from Henry (“Give me liberty or give me death”), these words hit home for me because they are a reminder that, as entrepreneurs, the path to success is through trying again and again and learning from our victories and defeats. Experience gives us the knowledge and wisdom to make better decisions and use our resources wisely. – Jeff Kear, Founder of Planning Pod

“Fear is the passion of slaves.” – Patrick Henry

As a founder, we resist the security of a stable job working for others in order to create something bigger and greater for society. As a founder we must not let fear of failure hold us back from building what we truly feel benefits us. We choose not to be modern day slaves. – Wade Floyd, Founder of NeedTo

“The circulation of confidence is better than the circulation of money.” – James Madison

In a startup where you’re trying to do big things with limited resources, it’s good to remember that confidence can do more for you than money alone. When Illustria was getting off the ground with no designers, technology, or customers, and with very limited financial resources, the one thing we had going for us was confidence in our idea’s success. We believed. That’s helped us sign 100+ corporate customers in less than a year, grow our team to 15+, and build a tech platform that works and empowers our customers’ success every day. – Katherine Long, Founder of IllustriaDesigns

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln

The landscape changes every day…every minute. If you’re not out-working or adapting quickly, you’ll get killed. That’s the mentality I’ve kept since Day 1. – Jen Lee Koss, Cofounder and Builder of Business at BRIKA

“Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, we pursued a new and more noble course: We accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society.” – James Madison

[My cofounder Nathan Phillips and I] believe we can transform the market and create a great and meaningful company, revolutionizing the way startups get funded and the way they grow and providing efficient, transparent access to an asset class unaccessible to all but a few investors. That, in turn, influences the growth of markets and the development of human and financial capital all around the globe. – Kevin Smith, Cofounder of Seedchange

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

In building my team for Raynforest.com, I have taken this advice to heart. I make every attempt to involve my entire team in the decisions that will affect my business and ultimately them. That strategy has paid off. It allows my team to think creatively, learn new skills, bring new ideas that we implement, and ultimately thrive in our startup environment. – Mark Fidelman, Founder of Raynforest

“Lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin

This is so true in the start-up world. As founder of start-up company…I know and appreciate how important time is. Whether it is developing the next software release or connecting with potential investors[…]I cannot waste a single moment…every moment is precious…every moment and what I choose to do with it can make or break my company. – Bobby Valentine, Cofounder of fitRaise

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” – James Madison

I love this quote because it accentuates the strong link between information and freedom. This sentiment resonates with me personally as my entrepreneurial endeavor strives to empower people through the spreading of legal knowledge via the Internet and web based technology. – Matthew Reischer, Founder and CEO of LegalAdvice.com

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.” – Benjamin Franklin

This really resonates because I firmly believe that “good luck” doesn’t just happen. Instead, it happens when you know exactly what you want and you decide to go after it. When I was younger, one of my best friends always seemed to have the best luck winning games, receiving awards and getting chosen first for everything. What I’ve learned over the years is that he always seemed to “win” because he knew what he wanted and pursued it with determination. Once you know what you’re seeking, you too can work hard, persist and be the recipient of good luck. – Aaron Goodin, Cofounder and CEO of Snap Skout

Did you find this article helpful? Click on one of the following buttons
We're so happy you liked! Get more delivered to your inbox just like it.

We're sorry this article didn't help you today – we welcome feedback, so if there's any way you feel we could improve our content, please email us at contact@tech.co

Written by:
Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.
Back to top