Inspirational Ronald Reagan Quotes for Small Business

Ronald Reagan Quotes: What the Former Us President Said About What It Means to Be an Entrepreneur

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan had a great grasp on what it means to be an entrepreneur and small business owner.  He understood the challenges faced by small businesses and entrepreneurs, and the magic they create.

Ronald Reagan Quotes on Small Business and Entrepreneurs

President Reagan (pictured above) not only understood this, but he lived up to his nickname as the Great Communicator. He was able to articulate and describe the contributions of small business owners and entrepreneurs, in a few sentences. Here are some Ronald Reagan quotes that will inspire your journey.

His remarks in a June 1983 speech before the National Federation of Independent Business are a perfect example. He gives a realistic and accurate description of starting and owning a business.  He acknowledges the challenges, yet captures the rewards both economic and spiritual of being a small business owner:

“We hear so much about the greed of business. Well, frankly, I’d like to hear a little more about the courage, generosity, and creativity of business. I’d like to hear it pointed out that entrepreneurs don’t have guaranteed annual incomes. Before they can turn a profit, they must anticipate and deliver what consumers want. They must risk their money with investments.

The truth is, before entrepreneurs can take, they must give. And business begins with giving. And I believe business works best, creates the greatest wealth, and produces the most progress for all when we’re free to follow the teachings of Scripture: Give and you will be given unto . . . search and you will find . . . cast your bread upon the waters and it will return to you manyfold.  ***

I believe we’re meant to use wisely what is ours, make it grow, then help others to share and benefit from our success. And the secret of success is understanding that true wealth is not measured in material things, but in the treasures of the mind and spirit.

Oil was worthless until entrepreneurs with ideas and the freedom and faith to take risks managed to locate it, extract it, and put it to work for humanity. Someday, oil itself will be replaced if those driven by great dreams are still free to discover and develop new forms of energy. ***

The principles of wealth creation transcend time, people, and place. Governments which deliberately subvert them by denouncing God, smothering faith, destroying freedom, and confiscating wealth have impoverished their people. Communism works only in heaven, where they don’t need it, and in hell, where they’ve already got it.”

As the last line above shows, Reagan also was famous for using humor to make his points. With an engaging half grin and a few softly-spoken words, he’d win people to his side.

In an April 1982 speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he observed (video below):

“The American dream of human progress through freedom and equality of opportunity in competitive enterprise is still the most revolutionary idea in the world today. It’s also the most successful.

Entrepreneurs are heroes of modern times. They rarely receive the credit they deserve. Treasury Secretary Don Regan recently reminded the student body of Bucknell University that it was under capitalism that mankind brought “light where before there was darkness, heat where once there was only cold, medicines where there was sickness and disease, food where there was scarcity, and wealth where humanity was living in squalor.” And much of what he was talking about came into being in the lifetime of many of us here in this room. Now, I’ve already lived about 20 years longer than my life expectancy at the time I was born. That’s a source of annoyance to a great many people.

But the societies which achieve the most spectacular progress in the shortest period of time are not the most tightly controlled, the biggest in size, or the wealthiest in material resources. They are societies that reward initiative and believe in the magic of the marketplace.

Trust the people — that’s the secret weapon. Only when people are free to worship, create, and build, only when they can decide their destiny and benefit from their own risks — only then do societies become dynamic, prosperous, progressive, and free.”

Later in that same speech before the Chamber of Commerce, he quipped:

“Winston Churchill said that some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few see it as the sturdy horse pulling the wagon. Well, this administration believes the workers, savers, investors, and the entrepreneurs of America have been milked and shot at long enough.”

President Reagan could make you proud to own a business in a mere sentence.  Look at his opening words at a rally in Wyoming in October of 1982:

“It’s great to be back here in Wyoming, back where your farmers and ranchers and workers and small business people dream big and toil hard to make dreams come true.”

If you happened to be going through tough times, a sentence like that reminds you what it’s all about.

Even today, decades later, President Reagan’s description of small businesses and entrepreneurs remains spot on. Let’s recap what he said.  Small business owners:

(1) Dream big and work hard.

(2) Have no guaranteed income — unless they create that income.

(3) Must anticipate their customers’ needs.  In other words, business owners have to be creative enough to think of the needs and desires of the marketplace and how to meet them.

(4) Must deliver before they reap any rewards.  There’s risk taking involved in starting and operating a business.  Business owners often must spend before they get anything in return.  Those with a steady paycheck do not always grasp that.

(5) Drive the economy and add to society. Small business owners create jobs and drive innovation, leading to a dynamic, prosperous and progressive society.

Every politician talks about small businesses as the “lifeblood of the economy.”  With Ronald Reagan, it felt like he actually believed it.

The small business world needs more leaders like Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan’s Legacy in Entrepreneurship and Small Business

Ronald Reagan’s influence extended beyond his time in office, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of entrepreneurship and small businesses. Here’s how his legacy continues to impact this vital sector:

  • Advocating for Small Businesses: Reagan’s speeches and policies advocated for small businesses, recognizing them as vital components of the American economy. His support helped create a favorable environment for entrepreneurs.
  • Reducing Regulatory Burdens: During his presidency, Reagan took steps to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses, making it easier for entrepreneurs to navigate the complexities of government regulations.
  • Economic Growth and Tax Reforms: Reagan’s economic policies, including tax reforms, contributed to a period of robust economic growth. Lower taxes and reduced government intervention provided businesses, especially small ones, with opportunities to thrive.
  • Inspiration for Future Leaders: Reagan’s eloquence and passion for entrepreneurship continue to inspire future generations of business leaders. His speeches serve as a source of motivation for those pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams.
  • Legacy of Innovation: Reagan’s emphasis on innovation and free markets laid the foundation for an environment where innovation could flourish. This legacy continues to drive entrepreneurship and technological advancements.
  • Entrepreneurship Education: Reagan’s belief in the power of entrepreneurship has influenced educational institutions to offer programs and courses that nurture the entrepreneurial spirit. These programs aim to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.
  • A Beacon of Entrepreneurial Values: Ronald Reagan’s commitment to individual freedom, personal responsibility, and limited government aligns closely with the values held by many entrepreneurs and small business owners. His legacy remains a beacon for those who cherish these principles.
Legacy AspectDescription
Advocating for Small BusinessesReagan's speeches and policies supported small businesses, recognizing their significance in the American economy.
Reducing Regulatory BurdensReagan's efforts aimed to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses, simplifying compliance with government regulations.
Economic Growth and Tax ReformsReagan's economic policies, including tax reforms, contributed to a period of robust economic growth, benefiting businesses, especially small ones.
Inspiration for Future LeadersReagan's eloquence and passion for entrepreneurship continue to inspire aspiring business leaders. His speeches serve as a source of motivation.
Legacy of InnovationReagan's emphasis on innovation and free markets created an environment conducive to technological advancements and entrepreneurial growth.
Entrepreneurship EducationReagan's belief in entrepreneurship influenced educational institutions to offer programs that nurture the entrepreneurial spirit.
A Beacon of Entrepreneurial ValuesReagan's commitment to individual freedom, personal responsibility, and limited government resonates with the values held by many entrepreneurs and small business owners. His legacy remains a guiding light.


Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, left an indelible mark on the world of entrepreneurship and small businesses. His profound understanding of the challenges and aspirations of entrepreneurs, combined with his unwavering support for their endeavors, has cemented his legacy as a champion of the entrepreneurial spirit.

Through his speeches, policies, and commitment to economic growth, Reagan created an environment where small businesses could flourish. His efforts to reduce regulatory burdens, implement tax reforms, and promote innovation contributed to a period of remarkable economic prosperity, leaving a lasting impact on the business landscape.

Moreover, Reagan’s words continue to serve as a wellspring of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and future leaders. His belief in the power of individual freedom, personal responsibility, and limited government resonates deeply with those who value these principles in the world of business.

As we reflect on the enduring legacy of Ronald Reagan, we are reminded of the essential role that entrepreneurship and small businesses play in driving economic growth, creating jobs, and fostering innovation. His vision of a dynamic and innovative small business sector remains a guiding light for entrepreneurs who continue to shape the future of our economy.

In an ever-evolving business landscape, Ronald Reagan’s legacy serves as a reminder that the entrepreneurial spirit, fueled by courage, creativity, and determination, has the power to transform not only individual lives but entire societies. His words and actions continue to inspire us to dream big, work hard, and, in the spirit of entrepreneurship, strive for a brighter and more prosperous future.

Image: US Government public domain 

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.