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7 Pithy Quotes From The Middle Ages That Will Help You Run A Soaring Business Today

  |   Business Tips, Classy Marketing, Customer Service, Reputation   |   11 Comments

These 7 quotes out of the Middle Ages will boost your business savvy, woo your customers, + make you a happier business owner.


You’re probably wondering how I came up with such a loopy topic.


Middle Ages? Business quotes? Wha?


All I can say is that I have a slight obsession with both subjects and decided the only fitting thing to do was to mash the two together and see what kind of mess I could create.


Forgive me.





BIZ LESSON NO. 1: “No empty handed man can lure a bird.”


WHO SAID IT: Geoffrey Chaucer


THE TAKEAWAY: Too many people (not you) operate their business from a stance of what serves them…not the customers or clients they hope to have.


As a result they put up websites that talk a whole awful lot about their qualifications + what they do, but give very little value to the actual humans who visit.


(Then they wonder why their efforts to gain business seem arduous, ineffective, and hollow. (Hmm.))


To attract people to your business, you need to give them a valuable taste of what they desire. (Tweet it.)


How can you lure “the birds” to you? Some ideas:


  • Quality blog posts (that help them solve a problem, become better educated, etc.)
  • Free samples
  • Free downloads (worksheets, planners, e-books, patterns, guides, etc.)
  • Podcasts
  • Interviews
  • Free trials
  • Video tutorials
  • Free office hours
  • Complementary services


No empty-handed man can lure a bird. - Geoffrey Chaucer | Business quotes from the Middle Ages on




BIZ LESSON NO. 2: “True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.”


WHO SAID IT: St. Francis de Sales


THE TAKEAWAY: There’s a pervasive problem among entrepreneurs + business owners, and it’s this:


We think that if we’re not rapidly rising to the top of our niche — in revenue, website traffic, or prestige — we’re failing.


Though here’s the thing. Flashes in the pan of business are initially impressive (not to mention loud, flashy, and more than a little boastful).


But they burn out rapidly.


Let me tell you something, friends: True failure is making momentary gains that flitter away, not being slow on the road to success. (Tweet it.)


Progress that’s simple and goes relatively unnoticed isn’t sexy, but I guarantee you that it’s those things that will do the most for your brand in the long run.


So next month I challenge you to focus on making + achieving very small goals, such as:


  • Supporting and encouraging one new potential business friend
  • Getting 50 more website pageviews than the month before
  • Outlining the basic plans for your next product
  • Writing one extra blog post
  • Growing your email list by 10 people
  • Making $100 extra dollars in revenue


True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice. - St. Francis de Sales | Business quotes from the Middle Ages on





BIZ LESSON NO. 3: “See to it that all your associates are upright…have frequent good converse with them and flee the society of the bad.”


WHO SAID IT: St. King Louis IX


THE TAKEAWAY: What’s true in our daily lives is just as true in business: there are people who are healthy + helpful to be around, who want to see others succeed, and are trustworthy advisors and companions….


And then there are those who have less-than-ethical standards, take advantage of us for their own selfish desires, and treat people as a mere means to an end.


Choose carefully to whom you attach your good name (and your listening ear).


A sleazy business companion not only sullies your reputation, they can lead you into practices that are destructive to your brand. (Tweet it.)


See to it that all your associates are upright. - St. King Louis IX | Business quotes from the Middle Ages on





BIZ LESSON NO. 4: “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.”


WHO SAID IT: St. Francis de Sales


THE TAKEAWAY: I have something a little bit unconventional to say.


You WON’T always make the right decisions or grow your business as well as you could.


And yes, you WILL trip up, drop the ball, and make silly decisions a lot more than just once.


When these things happen, most of the time the best thing you can do for your business is this:


Give. yourself. a. break.


(Clarification: I’m not talking about the kind of break where you’re really just lazy and would rather sit on the couch noshing on sushi while watching Kardashian marathons than work on your business. Not that any of you would do that, right? 😉 )


Perfection in business is a noble goal, but oftentimes it paralyzes more than it motivates. (Tweet it.)


To move forward means it’s time to let go of your preoccupation with being the A++ business woman.


Were you sloppy with your business records this year? Did you forget to send out that invoice? Was that interview a flubbering mess?


Tomorrow is a new day. Seize it!


Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. - St. Francis de Sales | Business quotes from the Middle Ages on





BIZ LESSON NO. 5 : “Teach us to give and not count the cost.”


WHO SAID IT: St. Ignatius de Loyola


THE TAKEAWAY: This makes me really happy to say, so I know it must be true.


At a certain point, all talk of ROI gets obnoxious. (Tweet it.)


Yes, being active in the online space sometimes requires money — and discernment — and prioritization.


Yes, you should know what you’re getting into before you throw $1000 at Facebook Ads.


But some things can’t be calculated, nor should they. They should just…be.


(Because it’s the right thing to do for your fellow humans.)


Things like:


  • having an active social media presence where your customers want to find you
  • respectfully responding to people’s complaints when they bring them to you on Facebook/Twitter/Etsy/etc.
  • giving out substantially valuable (and free) info on your website
  • responding to blog comments as best you can
  • …you get the drift, yes?


Teach us to give and not count the cost. - St. Ignatius de Loyola | Business quotes from the Middle Ages on





BIZ LESSON NO. 6: “At the end of our life, we shall all be judged by charity.”


WHO SAID IT: St. John of the Cross


THE TAKEAWAY: What does your business mean for the world?


For many of us it means we can pay our bills + debts.


After we grow some more it means the ability to help our family (more activities for the kiddos, helping out our sister/parents/etc, better insurance coverage).


And finally, if we’re really successful, it means living more comfortably + having more freedom (nicer decorations + clothes, more date nights, better food, bigger vacations).


That’s where most of us stop thinking about the impact our business has on the world…but what if it could mean more?


Shouldn’t it mean more?


Put a different way: When you’re old and frail, unable to get out of your bed (that smells like Vicks + Icy Hot, by the way (you’re welcome for that depressing visualization)), what do you want your legacy to be?


Do not be afraid to use your business for generosity. (Tweet it.)


When you’re dead no one will have fond memories of your Chanel handbag or when you hit a cool million in revenue.


But what they will remember? How you made them feel, and how you sacrificially gave of yourself to make their life a little bit brighter.


At the end of our life we shall all be judged by charity. - St. John of the Cross | Business quotes from the Middle Ages on





BIZ LESSON NO. 7: “Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.”


WHO SAID IT: St. Thomas Aquinas


THE TAKEAWAY: Business isn’t all unicorns and cupcakes.


When you’re overwhelmed, going cray cray, and feel as if you’re going to literally shrivel up and die if you have to deal with one. more. email/tax bill/refund request…take heart.


Troubles lose their power when you respect yourself enough to disengage, so go pour yourself something lovely, draw a bubble bath, then hit the sack.


It’s good medicine. ♥


Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath, and a glass of wine. - St. Thomas Aquinas | Business quotes from the Middle Ages on


What are your favorite business quotes? Write them below, ladies + gents.



Erika Madden

(Chief Olyvia)


The free 21 day ecourse that creates pro online impressions for business owners!

  • Anh

    Such a well written post. I love your your takeaway of each quote. You have an interesting way to approach and understand these quotes in your own terms. Those who run a business/blog definitely should read this post 🙂

    • Aww, thank you, Anh. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It was a fun post to write. 🙂

  • Brilliant! Would love to see these all individually created as a pinnable / shareable, when you have time (ha!). The takeaways were truly spectacular and Anh is right! Anyone in business needs to read this and then OPERATE by them!

    • That idea is a good one, Naomi. 😉 When I’m feeling better I just might do that!

  • Sharon

    LOVED THIS POST!! So inspiring and so thoughtfully and uniquely written. 🙂

  • Sharisse D

    Hi, Erika! I loved this SO MUCH! Each quote deserves a lot hard stare. Thanks for sharing and for laying out the reasons why each one rings true and how we can incorporate each quote’s meaning in our own lives.

    • You are very welcome, Sharisse. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Very cool way to tie in quotes and inspiration with running a business!

  • Elizabeth

    I enjoyed how you applied these quotes to today’s business practices. Very good advice!