What Ancient Proverbs Can Teach Us About Modern Business Success

Posted by The Align Team on Feb 21, 2017 8:38:00 AM

There’s a reason that many business executives will reference ancient proverbs in their documents and meetings—why? Because many of these platitudes still have relevance today, and there is a great deal that ancient proverbs can teach us about modern business success. We’ll delve into some of the expressions from centuries ago that particularly apply to contemporary entrepreneurs and business owners.

Tips From Ancient Proverbs on Modern Business Success


“To open a shop is easy, to keep it open is an art.”

For business owners, this demonstrates that while anyone can start a venture or company, the difficulty is keeping it afloat. Since so many new businesses fail, it can be daunting to navigate the growth stage and keep your organization on the path to success.

“If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.”

One of an entrepreneur's’ biggest determinants of success is the type of people we surround ourselves with. When you have A+ team members on board, your team is more cohesive, productive, and effective. To become one of the four percent of American companies to reach one million dollars in revenue, you’ll need top-notch people on your side.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Every company needs an idea to get it started. Whether the purpose of your company is to make gluten-free tortillas or design an app for your refrigerator, your entire venture begins with an idea. This proverb applies to business founders in particular because no matter how great your initial idea is, your path to scaling up will have a variety of challenges and obstacles that will require perseverance and determination.

“A person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the man doing it.”

While many entrepreneurs encounter doubts and backlash when they first start out, these criticisms should not hold you back. The potential investor, colleague, or friend who negates your ideas from the get-go should not be the only deciding factor on whether you move forward with your company.

“Don’t stand by the water and long for fish; go home and weave a net.”

This platitude emphasizes the importance of being proactive, an essential aspect of being an entrepreneur. Successful business leaders don’t wait for their company to take off, they are actively hustling. They avoid feelings of stagnation and apathy by constantly pushing their team to achieve audacious goals and adapting their business strategy to suit new needs.

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”

There’s always a new trend, product, or capability in the business world. One of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success is to keep abreast of new developments and encourage learning opportunities both for yourself and your team members at every step of the journey.

“The emperor is rich, but he cannot buy one extra year.”

While starting a business can feel be-all, end-all and it is often a founders’ life’s work, there are other aspects of life you need to take into account. While maintaining a perfect work-life balance can seem impossible, it’s still important not to let your health or outside relationships go by the wayside in pursuit of your business goals.

While plenty of old-school rules, platitudes, and pieces of advice can no longer be applied to suit today’s needs, there are a variety of ancient proverbs that can still teach us about modern business success.

For more info on how to scale up effectively and see succes, download our Rockefeller Habits Execution Checklist. 

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Topics: leadership, entrepreneur, scaling up, business

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