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15 Ben Horowitz Quotes to Inspire Your Startup Journey

Ben Horowitz is one of our favorite high-tech entrepreneurs. He is the famous co-founder and general partner along with Marc Andreessen of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. He was also the co-founder of the software company Opsware, which in 2007 was acquired by HP for $1.6 billion… in cash.

Ben Horowitz is the author of The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, the book that became a hit among entrepreneurs as it offers valuable advice on entrepreneurship, startups and building a business.

If you are looking for advice on startups, decision-making, being a CEO and what matters in entrepreneurship, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 15 Ben Horowitz quotes that will inspire your startup journey:

On the importance of courage in entrepreneurship:

“In my experience as CEO, I found that the most important decisions tested my courage far more than my intelligence.”

“Every time you make the hard, correct decision you become a bit more courageous, and every time you make the easy, wrong decision you become a bit more cowardly.”

On making decisions:

“Often any decision, even the wrong decision, is better than no decision.”

“In life, everybody faces choices between doing what’s popular, easy, and wrong vs. doing what’s lonely, difficult, and right. These decisions intensify when you run a company, because the consequences get magnified 1,000 fold. As in life, the excuses for CEOs making the wrong choice are always plentiful.”

“When you found a company, you have the original vision, you make all the original decisions, you know every employee, you kind of know every aspect of the product architecture and its limitations.”

“When you’re making a critical decision, you have to understand how it’s going to be interpreted from all points of view.”

“Not just your point of view, not just the person you’re talking to, but the people that aren’t in the room. Everybody else.”

On being the CEO:

“The thing that’s confusing for investors is that founders don’t know how to be CEO. I didn’t know how to do the job when I was a CEO. Founder CEOs don’t know how to be CEOs, but it doesn’t mean they can’t learn. The question is… can the founder learn that job and can they tolerate all mistakes they will make doing it?”

“Nobody knows how to be a CEO. It’s something you have to learn. It’s a very lonely job.”

“I was an executive running a pretty substantial group before becoming CEO, and I had no idea what it was like. When something goes wrong, people say, ‘It’s all your fault.’ Your reaction is, ‘It’s not my fault.’ But what do you mean? I was the founder, I hired everybody in the company, I was managing it.”

“Great CEOs face the pain. They deal with the sleepless nights, the cold sweats, and what my friend the great Alfred Chuang (legendary cofounder and CEO of BEA Systems) calls “the torture.” Whenever I meet a successful CEO, I ask them how they did it. Mediocre CEOs point to their brilliant strategic moves or their intuitive business sense or a variety of other self-congratulatory explanations. The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers. They all say, “I didn’t quit.”

On getting into business for the right reasons:

“The bad thing about young people starting a company is that sometimes they do it for the wrong reasons or because they have the wrong skill set, but the good thing is that they don’t have any of the old paradigms baked into them, so they have a lot of the bright new ideas that are harder to come by as you get older.”

On innovation:

“Big companies have trouble with innovation. Innovation is about bad ideas, or ideas that look like bad ideas. That’s the fundamental thing.”

On selling:

“To succeed at selling a losing product, you must develop seriously superior sales techniques. In addition, you have to be massively competitive and incredibly hungry to survive in that environment.”

“Hire sales people who are really smart problem solvers, but lack courage, hunger and competitiveness, and your company will go out of business.”

 

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