William Shakespeare: the bard of business advice? Although it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about the famous playwright, his plays are full of lessons and cautionary tales on everything from advice on loans, to the pitfalls of misplaced trust.
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of his death on the 23rd April, we’ve pulled together some of his most insightful quotes on entrepreneurship which, although written several centuries ago, are still undoubtedly relevant to modern working life.
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – Hamlet
Risk and failure are inevitable in business. But, next time something bad happens, try to approach it with a positive outlook, and it’ll be much easier to find a solution.
“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” – As You Like It
Never get too confident when it comes to business. You may be knowledgeable in your sector, but there will always be things you don’t know. And that’s ok.
“Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice”– Hamlet
Active listening is an essential component of running a business. This can help you to understand the people you’re working with, and make informed decisions across all business practices. Also, be careful about the information you choose to share, and the people you choose to put your trust in.
“Strong reasons make strong actions.” – King John
It’s important to look carefully at opportunities before you commit to them, using reason, logic and outside opinion if possible. Informed decisions are always the best decisions.
“The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.” – All’s Well That Ends Well
Career plans (and personal plans) will not always go according to, well, plan. Accepting this, and being flexible and adaptable, makes it much easier to get back up when you’ve been knocked down.
“Never shame to hear what you have nobly done.” – Coriolanus
The giving and receiving of praise goes a long way towards making your workforce feel valued. Be proud of your achievements, and encourage others to feel equally proud of theirs.
“But do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade.”– Hamlet
This can be read as a caution to stay away from workplace gossip. Maintaining focus on your objectives will stop you getting drawn into the minutiae of office politics.
“Thought is free.” – The Tempest
Don’t underestimate the power of creative thought when it comes to business. When business revolves around profit and loss, it can be easy to concentrate on financial factors instead of more intangible elements such as innovation, but this may just be the key to your business’ growth.
“Have more than thou showest, Speak less than thou knowest, Lend less than thou owest, Ride more than thou goest, Learn more than thou trowest, Set less than thou throwest.” – King Lear
This is a great one, and highlights the importance of the qualities of modesty, thriftiness and a sense of adventure. All very important values for the business leader.
“This above all: to thine own self be true”- Hamlet
This quote identifies perhaps the most important component of having a long and satisfying career. If you’re true to yourself and your work, you’ll believe in what you do, and will fight for it intelligently, honestly and patiently. Be clear on your business goals and be willing to stick with them, and in time you’ll be successful.
Shakespeare himself was a business-savvy man who, 400 years ago this month, died in possession of a small fortune thanks to clever investing.
These inspirational quotes just go to show that good advice is timeless, and can benefit us much more than we realise.
For more genius from the Bard, take a look at this article.