19 best motivational speeches for entrepreneurs
When you’re starting out in business, sometimes life gets hard. You need a bit of motivation to get you to started. It might be that you’re wondering whether you can actually do this – whether you’re capable of starting a business, or whether you should keep going when times are hard. There’s loads of occasions that we know that entrepreneurs struggle for motivation, because we’ve spoken so many of you throughout the time we have spent working in eCommerce.
Here’s just a few of the times that we know you’ve been looking for inspiration, or motivation throughout the process of starting up your own business:
When you need to feel inspired to get you through the hours of research it can take to find the perfect range of products, or suppliers.
To get you through the times when it feels like you’ll never reach your target of 10,000 followers on Instagram.
To help you to get through the wait for your first sale, or your tenth sale.
To motivate you to get out the door to get to the gym for an hour to regain your sanity.
To get you through tackling your sales reporting or filing your tax return for the first time.
Perhaps even to get you started doing the bit that you love doing – writing blog posts (oh, wait… that’s probably me…!)
If you’re going through a slump in your motivation that even your second coffee of the day isn’t busting you out of, and you’ve read our post with some of the best motivational business quotes and even they didn’t work, then you need the serious stuff. The most inspirational motivational speeches you can get your ears wrapped around.
Where can you find motivational speeches?
Put ‘motivational speeches’ into Google and you’ll find literally thousands of them, including compilations of some of the best, most famous speeches of all time. It goes without saying that if you’re looking for video clips then YouTube is possibly the only place to start – but there really are so many motivational speeches that you could watch all year long – although some are better than others, so get ready to skip ahead.
We simply cannot write a post about speeches and not mention TED. If you’ve never encountered a TED talk, then we’re not quite sure where you have been, but you’re in for a real treat. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and is an organisation that has been around since 1984, when it started as a conference sharing information from those particular subjects. Since 1984, there have been TED talks about almost every topic, all around the world. There are even TEDx events that are independently run conferences where ideas get shared, and many of these talks make it to YouTube as well as the TED website.
There are some great playlists – even a whole page full of talks about motivation, and plenty about business. As with YouTube, heed our warning and be careful not to get sucked into watching too many, as there are hours and hours of talks! They might all be incredibly valuable to you, but if they’re distracting you from what you’re actually trying to achieve then you’re at risk of watching inspirational videos all day and then being all fired up just as you need to go to bed.
While we’re talking about TED, we’re giving an honourable mention to the TED Radio Hour podcast too – it’s a great way to discover incredibly interesting TED talks, and get inspirational information while you’re on the go. We love it for when we have to make long drives across the country.
Speeches from eCommerce leaders
If you’re just starting out in eCommerce, it can be hard to keep your momentum going. Even if you have been in eCommerce for years, it might be hard to stay motivated! Here are some of the most motivating speeches we know of that you might find useful. For the most part, these speeches are rags-to-riches stories talking about the amount of effort that is required to build a multi-billion dollar company – but none of us thought they got there with absolutely no effort, did we?
Jeff Bezos is he man who founded Amazon. As the founder of a multi-billion dollar company, and the biggest marketplace that almost every seller has considered selling on at some point, we could hardly ignore him, could we? In this video , he discusses how he started out on the road to creating Amazon, and how important it is to use the less safe path to follow your passion, even if you risk failure at times. You can find the transcript to this talk here.
Jack Ma is one of the biggest names in eCommerce – he’s China’s answer to Jeff Bezos. Jack Ma set up the eCommerce website Alibaba to be able to more easily distribute products from China across the world. In this video, Jack talks about how he didn’t find it easy to get to where he wanted to get to – and the setbacks he encountered. He speaks here about being refused entry to Harvard 30 times, to even struggling to getting a job at KFC when the first branch opened in China. If you’re feeling disillusioned, or that the knock-backs are starting to add up, this is a great talk about how even the most influential people of the eCommerce world started out with next to nothing.
Former CEO of eBay, Devin Wenig talks about how his career took a different path to the traditional routes. This talk is less motivational in tone, but we think his emphasis on how important it is to do things that are going to make you happy is really important, and may be incredibly motivational if you’re stuck in a job that you don’t enjoy. If it is time to start your eCommerce business, start by watching this first.
Speeches for when you’re feeling stuck, or that times are hard
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Dwayne Johnson started out in WWE wrestling, and made his move across to acting in movies once he had retired from the wrestling scene. This speech from Dwayne Johnson helps us think about the hard times and how they can help us when we’re going into the big moments, and how we can use the struggle to move forward.
Although this speech draws on sports experience – there’s a lot that we think can be applied to your business – particularly when thinking about how important it is that you love what you do. He also talks about ‘playing angry’ at not being number one, and the importance of not being outworked by anyone. If you’re thinking that you could use a little motivation to get out of bed an hour earlier to build your business, this is a great speech to watch.
There’s a lovely overlay of Hans Zimmer’s Time on this video, but please be advised that Dwayne uses some colourful language – so if you’re listening at work, or there are children around you, headphones are strongly suggested!
Sylvester Stallone’s stories of Rocky and his struggles to become the best are possibly some of the most motivating movies to watch of all time – especially when we take into account the soundtrack, and the montages showing him putting the hard work in! Anyway, we’ve gone off on a tangent there. In this speech, Rocky is talking to his son about taking on the world and how it can be hard. But it isn’t about how hard you hit… it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward – because that’s how winning is done!
You might think that Arnie is just all about the body building and making movies. But in reality, he started out like many of us that are in the throes of starting a business – he simply worked on his passion in his spare time, and organised his time over the course of the week VERY carefully in order to be able to achieve everything he has. By the end of the first minute of this clip, we’re already Googling ways to start organising our time better so we can achieve more!
Admiral William H. McRaven
This next speech is a longer one – it’s by Admiral William H. McRaven from the US Navy, giving the commencement address at the University of Texas in 2014. It’s a great speech about how difficult it is to get into the elite services – and how you can change the world too, simply by starting with making your bed in the mornings.
Next, we have a great short speech about avoiding regret, and being happy. It’s less than three minutes long, so is a great one if you’re just making a cup of tea before going back to work, but be warned – there is quite a bit of swearing towards the end, so get those earphones in if you’re at work or around children!
If you’re watching all of these clips, then we wonder… Can you see a theme starting to emerge amongst these speeches yet? There’s a heavy emphasis on doing your best, on putting in the hard work and not being afraid of failure.
Mark Wahlberg is no exception – he got into trouble in his teenage years, and when caught by the police, he ended up being tried as an adult. After that point, he made a commitment to doing his best absolutely every day. This is a great speech and hits on all the key points that a great motivational talk needs – starting with a tough upbringing, moving onto how plenty of effort can really bust you into a different place, and then going on to talk about how you must continue to always do your best.
A speech to help you when you’re scared to shine
This clip from the movie Coach Carter might be incredibly helpful when you’re feeling worried that someone might judge you for what you’re doing. Sometimes the fear of failure can actually be seen as fear of success. Here’s a great, short speech about continuing to do what you want, or need to do in order to shine.
Speeches to help you get over failure
Sometimes it happens that you get to the point where you’re so demotivated by your setbacks that failure becomes utterly inevitable. And like so many esteemed individuals said about failure in our inspirational business quotes blog post, failure is most definitely an option. In fact, many incredibly successful people claim it is inevitable, and should not be mourned, since it can be incredibly valuable for your business.
In those moments – either when you’re about to fail, or if you have already failed, in one way or another – then it is time to heed the lessons. Almost all of those quotes – including Beyoncé, Bill Gates and Richard Branson – talk about how failure is something that can be learnt from. About how rock bottom is a solid base to build upon. The issue, then, is not how you fail, but how you deal with it that is the key to your success in the future.
If you’re in the situation right now where you’ve failed, you’re about to fail, or you’re just worrying that your business is going to fail, then we present to you this phenomenal speech from Denzel Washington from 2011.
Oprah Winfrey was born to an unmarried teenage mother, at a time when this was still a huge obstacle to success. Oprah spent the first six years of her life living in poverty with her grandmother, and then moved between different family members. Her hard work led to a scholarship at Tennessee State University, which meant she was able to get a job in the media, and the rest is history! In this clip, Oprah gives a great speech about what to do when you’re on what she refers to as ‘one of life’s detours’ – when you’re stuck, or if you’re failing. Failure is just there to point you in a different direction!
A speech to help you get over rejection
We’ve all encountered rejection in our lives at some time, whether that’s from a potential romantic partner, a job that you really, really wanted or some other form of rejection. If you’re in the space where you’re feeling sad because you have been rejected, this speech from Darryll Stinson may help – in this speech at Tedx at Wiley College in 2019. In this talk, Darryll discusses how rejection can aid us in helping to discover our true identity, understand who we really are and what we’re gifted at in order to continue to improve ourselves.
A speech to help you use hard times to inspire gratitude
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook lost her husband just a year before delivering this incredible speech about the role gratitude can play in your life. Many of the speeches that we’ve talked about highlight how it is possible to move on from hard times, and so does Sheryl. She talks about the ways in which you can surface from bad times and use them to propel yourself forward, using the gratitude that may come from those bad times to inspire you in your future. This speech is a tear-jerker for sure, but stands as a powerful reminder of no matter how difficult life can get, things can always be worse. And for that, most of us can agree, we can be grateful.
Speeches to help with feelings of inadequacy
Doctor Rick Rigsby
If you’re worrying that you’re never going to get anywhere in life because you didn’t leave school with any qualifications, let alone a degree, then this next speech is the one for you. This man – Doctor Rick Rigsby – clearly has – you can tell by the mortar board on his head! In this speech, he’s talking about his father, who achieved so much in his life without any qualifications.
This is an inspiring speech that reminds us that, as Mark Twain said, we should never let our schooling to get in the way of our education. If you’re needing a little encouragement to go for something you feel under-qualified to do, this is the speech for you. Be prepared though – there’s a few moments where you might want to have a tissue to hand.
While we’re talking about amazing, intelligent people that didn’t end up graduating from college, you might take a look at this speech from the late, great Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was, of course, the chairman, chief executive officer (CEO), and co-founder of Apple Inc, alongside Steve Wozniak. In this clip, he talks about how he was put up for adoption by his biological mother, and how she demanded that he go to college, and why he felt it necessary to drop out of college and to take an alternative route to success.
When it comes to inspiring people, there are few that might inspire more than the first black president of the United States – Barack Obama. In this address, he talks about how ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they are given an opportunity. That’s particularly true when it comes to starting out in business, and especially in eCommerce – by creating your own business opportunities with DropShipping, you can do incredible things!
We can’t mention Barack Obama without talking about his amazing wife Michelle. Here’s a clip of a speech she gave in 2012, that talks about how they started out from a poor background with copious amounts of student debt. She goes on to talk about how Americans need to give their children a sense of limitless possibility, that inspires us to do more, so we can set an example to our own children and inspire them too.
Do inspirational speeches really work?
There are some psychologists that hold the opinion that the power of inspirational speeches are limited. That true inspiration needs to come from a place inside of ourselves, and it is courage, willpower and perseverance that will help us create change in our lives. Like many things in psychology, that matter is up for debate – there are alternative theories that could be more accurate.
Most of us would probably agree though that there are times that we need a bit of fire in our blood. The electric jolt that makes us think “YES, I have totally got this” and sets us up for hard work right at the moment we need it. And that is where the power of a great motivational speech comes in – to provide that intoxicating rush of inspiration that can help us get started.
If you find a great speech that affects you so much that you know you’ll want to refer to time and again, you’ll probably favourite or add a bookmark in your web browser. But a powerful exercise can also be to find a transcript of it, print it and pin it to your wall, or annotating it with reminders to yourself of why you found it powerful, and highlighting your favourite parts. When you’re struggling for motivation on a difficult day, this might be the hit of inspiration that you need to get you going.
What if you simply can’t get motivated?
Honestly, we completely understand – we all get tired, uninspired and quite frankly, a little bit under the weather. That’s totally normal! In those times, it can be tempting to put your feet up and to ignore what you have to do until another day. But then you’re delaying your success – so let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to help find that motivation.
Motivation can actually be produced by creating a habit – and understanding the difference between pain vs. pleasure. We can use the idea of pain vs. pleasure to help motivate us during the times we need to get back on track. To take advantage of the pleasure concept, we might make notes about how great we feel when we smashed through a task we don’t enjoy, or think in detail about how getting the task done will impact our lives for the better.
In terms of pain, we might think about how our lives will look if we don’t take the actions we need to. So we might think about the impact of not completing each task, and then take it to the extreme – if you don’t do your sales reports, you won’t know where the problems lie in your business. If you don’t know where problems lie, then you can’t fix them, and if you don’t fix them, you will inevitably lose money. If you lose money, you won’t be successful – and that might mean you have to get a job that you hate, or it might mean you will find it even harder to get out of the awful job that you’re currently in!
Tips to help you find motivation
If you can’t get motivated, then here are a few tips that can help you to get going.
1. Start doing something – anything!
If you’re searching for motivation to start exercising, or to start doing a boring task that you’ve been putting off, then the best thing you can do is to start taking action. Particularly when it comes to exercise, motivation is often formed after you’ve started, or after you’ve finished altogether, as you feel the reward that finishing a challenging session brings.
Start by promising yourself that you will focus on the task for ten minutes. Put your phone away, and start tackling the job you need to do. If you’re still not feeling like you’re getting anywhere then you can stop after just ten minutes! It can be a powerful way to trick yourself into getting started. If you get to the ten minute mark and you’re really not getting very far, well – at least you’re ten minutes further ahead than you were. But generally, when employing this trick, by the time you’ve reached ten minutes, you’re probably finding it easier than you were – and so you keep going. That motivation has appeared simply by taking action!
2. Look at what you’ve achieved
When you take a moment to examine what you have already achieved, you might realise that you could have got further if you’d put a little bit extra in. Most of us can say, looking back on our lives that there is something we have done that we could have done better at, and how much further forward we might be if we had tried that little bit harder. So while we’re saying it’s a good thing to look at your achievements, look at what you can do better, because you will get out what you have put in. If you do your best, then you’re likely get the best back in return – so think about what doing your best really takes, and strive to do that in your business endeavours.
3. Remember that it gets easier
Think about how hard it was when you started to learn how to do something. Let’s use learning to ride a bike as an example. It’s difficult to keep your balance in the beginning, but soon the training wheels come off, and then you can ride for hours. You learn how to pedal standing up, how to ride downhill, or how to pull a wheelie. Each new moment takes a while to learn, but the more you practice, the easier it gets – so get that practice in!
4. Schedule your tasks
If you’re working on your business in your spare time, you might fall into the trap of putting tasks off until ‘tomorrow’. But as the phrase my mum used to use goes… “tomorrow never comes”! There will always be a tomorrow, and if you delay, you’re delaying your success. You don’t want to delay your success, do you? Of course not. Therefore, adding tasks to your calendar, or using other tools like Trello to manage your workload can help hold yourself accountable – which means you’re going to hit your success sooner than later.
The power of music
If you’re feeling the need for some motivation as you’re working, but listening to someone giving a motivational speech is too distracting (as I sometimes find when I’m trying to find the right words to write!) then finding a great playlist (or more than one!) is essential. Music is an incredibly personal choice, so you need to find what is going to work best for you.
You might create your own motivational playlist, based on party music or whichever songs or pieces of music motivate you, but that can take time to set up – time that you could be using better by working on whatever you need to get done! If you need to find time to create a playlist, wherever you stream your music – whether that is YouTube, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal, Apple Music or somewhere else entirely – there are already plenty of playlists that have been created and are full of motivational music.
We recommend listening to video game soundtracks – not Pac Man or Tetris, but rather soundtracks from games such as Assassin’s Creed or World of Warcraft. They’re designed to keep you focused, and stay motivated for hours on end, so they are ideal for when you really need to dig into a job and stay on-task without being distracted.
For the same reasons, we also love movie scores – there are plenty of incredible playlists that feature music from the likes of Hans Zimmer and John Williams. Superhero movie soundtracks from the Marvel and DC universes are also incredibly motivating – they’re supporting strong storylines and are specifically written to be emotionally stirring.
We particularly like the ‘Epic Music’ playlist on Amazon Music for when we need deep focus, but if you want to create a little fun for a mundane, or physical task, you might try a playlist full of Disney songs. If you need to get something done quickly, you might try one of the many, many up-tempo, motivating playlists compiled by people for use at the gym. There’s loads of them to be found on Spotify – just search ‘motivating’.
What makes a great motivational speech?
Just like our taste in music, what constitutes a great motivational speech will differ from person to person. When we were doing the research for this post, we found plenty of YouTube clips – we could have spent a year watching videos that could be thought of as useful! However, what we also found was that there are plenty of speeches that are too cheesy, too vague, or that we simply didn’t believe that the speaker was invested in what they were saying.
Just like our individual tastes in music, what works to inspire one person won’t necessarily work to inspire another. If we take the example of what might inspire the team in a football dressing room at half time, it might not be the same as what will inspire an individual to start their own business, for example – but then again, for some people, that football speech might be exactly what they need to get them started!
Here’s a few thoughts about what makes a great motivational speech.
A great motivational speech is to the point – the audience can understand what the message is going to be if not in the first few moments, then certainly within the first half. There might be more than one message to impart, but there shouldn’t be too many messages – the audience shouldn’t be confused at any point – and definitely not by the time they have finished listening to the speech.
A great motivational speech tells a story. That means there should be a clear beginning, middle and end, and just like many stories and fables, the message should be built into the story as it is told. However the story is told, it should carefully unfold for the audience – using specifically the right kind of language and being clear as to what the message is. It’s definitely worth noting that a motivational story could be used for different demographic groups, with a few tweaks to the kind of language that is being used.
A great motivational speech is evocative. Some of the speeches that we have linked to in this article might bring on tears (spoiler: we had to use a Kleenex on more than one occasion!). They might inspire you to call your loved ones to tell them that you love them. Or they might send you racing for your notebook or laptop, riding on the wave of enthusiasm that the talk has created in your body. A motivational speech carefully guides the audience to what the speaker wants them to do with the speech that they are delivering – whether that is to take action immediately, or to make gradual positive changes to their lives.
A great motivational speech has a powerful ending. Unless the speaker is the host of a TV show, a great motivational speech is unlikely to be remembered if it ends with “thank you for listening and goodnight!”. Of course, that may be appropriate in some circumstances – where there is a huge audience, or where the speech is being recorded by the speaker. However, we think a motivational speech is better ended before then taking questions from the audience. Once the questions have been fielded, that is when we think it is the right time for thanking the audience for listening, and wishing them luck in their future endeavours.
Who can make a motivational speech?
Literally anybody can deliver an incredible motivational speech. There are untold numbers of inspirational videos featuring famous entrepreneurs, and from elderly people imparting their biggest pieces of advice available to you online. However, if you search YouTube for motivational speeches by children, you can find plenty that might work to inspire you too!
We love this this Pep Talk by Kid President as an example of some of the best motivational speeches aren’t made from accomplished adults.
How to write and deliver a great motivational business speech
If you’ve made it to the point that you’ve been asked to deliver a speech, congratulations! You might not feel like you’re worthy of delivering a motivational speech if you haven’t reached your goals yet. But if you’ve been asked, then whoever has asked you to give the speech clearly thinks you’re worthy of it. So whether it’s a speech that will take five minutes at your old high school, or it’s to a meetup group talking about eCommerce, you’ll no doubt be wondering how to get started. And as all the videos we’ve featured in this post encourage, you need to do your best!
You might already have a few ideas knocking around – but here’s some guidance to make sure you don’t miss the mark completely.
Know your audience
If you’re the owner of an eCommerce business, you’ll know how this process works – since it is exactly the same process as you carried out when you were conducting your target customer research. By knowing your audience, you’ll be able to give a much more effective speech – and you won’t be remembered for the wrong reasons.
So this means you’ll be finding out who, exactly will be in the room. What do they have in common with you? What backgrounds do they come from? How old are they? What are they interested in? What can you tell them, that they don’t already know?
If you’re speaking at a conference, you can ask for demographic information of attendees that have already registered. If you’re presenting to a group of school pupils, the information you need is pretty much tied to whether your group is mixed or single gendered, and the age of the class.
You don’t need to have exact information – approximate age ranges are absolutely fine. This can help you avoid making mistakes in your talk that might fall flat. You don’t want to be making a joke about a TV show that finished twenty years ago if you’re presenting to school students, for example – they will be unlikely to get the reference.
Knowing your audience will be key to knowing the kind of language you can use. If the audience is a less formal group of people that are similar to yourself, you may be inclined to use less formal language. Swearing is usually to be avoided – especially if you want to project a professional image, but if you have a point that you think will benefit from the impact an f-bomb will make, (if it is an essential part of the story) then being sure your audience won’t be offended is absolutely essential.
Know your subject
If you’re going out there to motivate, then you know your goal. We’ll get to that in a moment.
here are many valid ways to deliver a motivational speech. Let’s use the example of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde 2:
This isn’t a business speech. Yes, it goes around the houses a little, and the subject matter is only very loosely linked to what Elle is trying to achieve (inspiring senators to make a change in legislation on animal testing, for those of you who don’t know but don’t want to watch the movie to find out!)
But the point we’re making here is that there are different approaches that you can use to deliver a motivational speech. You don’t have to stick with the ‘you can do it, keep going, failure is not an option’ approach. You can use a story, or another example to make your point.
Knowing what you’re going to talk about is key. If you’re going to talk about yourself, and your story of how you made it to be a successful businessperson, then you probably don’t need to do any research. But if you’re going to tell a different story, then you might need to prepare your speech a little more rigorously.
Other considerations when you’re planning your subject matter include whether you’re going to use slides to support your talk, or whether you’re going to just talk. Also, think about the sort of questions you’re likely to get. If you can predict what you are likely to be asked, you can prepare for those answers.
Determine the end goal of your speech
What do you want your audience to feel when you have finished talking? Do you want to encourage them to get out there and start doing things immediately? Or perhaps you want them to be inspired to find out more – for example, if you want them to be inspired to buy the book you have written?
If you want them to take what you have talked about and be inspired by it, you’ll need to be passionate about what you’re saying. If it doesn’t appear that you really care about what you’re saying, your audience won’t either. A good way to make sure your audience are on board with this is to tell them. Tell them at the beginning what you hope they will get out of your speech, and then at the end, you can tell them exactly how they can move forward. Maybe you’re going to invite questions, both in front of the group, or after, by email.
Make sure the audience knows how they can interact with you after the event. Direct them to your website, your social media, or give them an email address. If you want them to buy something from you, give them ways that they can find that product – don’t make them search for it.
Practice makes perfect
Writing a speech won’t necessarily come easily. You might decide – especially if you’re talking about yourself – to just use notes on cards, to prompt you. You might prefer to write the whole thing, word for word.
Whichever approach you decide to take when planning your speech, don’t neglect to practice – particularly if you’ve written the whole speech, from start to finish. What looks great on paper may not translate to funny when said out loud, or you may need to work out how long a pause needs to be before you deliver a punchline, or the final message of your speech.
You might also need to revise your words heavily – you might decide to use different examples, because you realised another works better, or there might be an accidental innuendo that you’ve missed on paper. Don’t get remembered because you were accidentally funny – be remembered because you’re intentionally funny!
Practicing your speech is most important though when we think about the length of your speech. You don’t want to discover that what you think will take 20 minutes to speak, only takes 12 minutes when you’re in front of your audience. It is much better to find out that your speech needs a lot more words, or to be trimmed down significantly before you get there. While we’re talking about time, make sure that you have left enough time in your allotted slot to invite audience questions. You might feel that you have covered everything you want to say, but your audience are extremely likely to have thought of something you haven’t. If you’re allowed a 30 minute slot, it’s worth giving yourself 20 minutes of material, and then invite questions. In the unusual scenario that you don’t have questions, make sure you have backup material for those last few minutes.
And of course, you want to leave your audience wanting more – if your final statement feels flat, your audience won’t be inspired to go read your book, find your website or start their own business – or whatever it is you are trying to inspire them to do.
Sometimes we all need a huge dose of motivation to get us through our workday. Even those of us that love what we do have off-days! With that in mind, using a video of a fantastic motivational speech, or some inspiring music can be a great way to get us through – but it’s not necessarily something you want, or need to use daily. If you’re not motivated to do the work you’re doing, then perhaps it’s time to get into something that you ARE motivated to do.
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