Warren Buffett is known for many things: his reading habits, his philanthropy, his dedication to teaching the importance of money to kids, his business acumen, his wealth, and especially his investing style.
He is also known for giving out priceless wisdom that has stood the test of time over the years.
After all, who wouldn’t take the advice of one of the world’s most successful investors?
Here, I’ve rounded up 40 of the Oracle of Omaha’s best quotes on investing, business and life.
Perhaps it would help us all learn a thing or two about how to ignite our inner entrepreneur?
- "Rule No. 1 is never lose money. Rule No. 2 is never forget Rule No. 1."
This is a good place to start - it's incredibly important to keep capital preservation at the top of your priority list when deciding how to invest your money.
Buffett is very widely considered to be among the world’s best investors and he has done many interviews over the years, which have garnered some excellent inspirational quotes on everything to do with investing and investments.
He has frequently discussed his success, with insight into how to identify what makes a good investment, what makes a good buying opportunity, and the importance of making the best and most well-educated investment decisions.
- “Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”
- "Don't watch the market closely.
If they're trying to buy and sell stocks, and worry when they go down a little bit … and think they should maybe sell them when they go up, they're not going to have very good results."
- “Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”
- Price is what you pay.
Value is what you get.”
- "Opportunities come infrequently.
When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble."
- "The key to investing is not assessing how much an industry is going to affect society, or how much it will grow, but rather determining the competitive advantage of any given company and, above all, the durability of that advantage."
- “Don't try and drive a 9,800-pound truck over a bridge that says it's, you know, capacity: 10,000 pounds.
But go down the road a little bit and find one that says, capacity: 15,000 pounds."
When it comes to reputation and success, Buffett has made no secret about the fact that his reputation and that of his business significantly supersedes any loss of money.
He’s frequently been quoted talking about how reputation is a priceless asset that should be protected at all times.
And this attitude has certainly paid off given that it's undeniable that he has built one of the strongest reputations in the world.
Similarly when it comes to success, again Buffett doesn’t put a number to what he considers success - to him, it’s all about the people around him and how he positions himself among them.
- “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.
If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”
- "We can afford to lose money - even a lot of money.
But we can't afford to lose reputation - even a shred of reputation."
- “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
- “I measure success by how many people love me.”
According to Buffett, your mind is the most important asset you can own, and one that should be regularly maintained but also challenged and broadened.
He is an avid reader and often surprises people when he tells people that a lot of his day is spent reading alone.
But this is where he credits much of his success - to him, the pursuit of knowledge is certainly the path to both power and success.
And he urges anyone who wants to achieve success to do the same.
- "I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think.
That is very uncommon in American business.
I read and think.
So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business."
- “It’s good to learn from your mistakes.
It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.”
- “The more you learn, the more you earn.”
- “The best education you can get is investing in yourself, and that doesn’t mean college or university.”
- "One can best prepare themselves for the economic future by investing in your own education.
If you study hard and learn at a young age, you will be in the best circumstances to secure your future."
- "Read 500 pages like this every day.
That's how knowledge works.
It builds up, like compound interest.
All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it."
It’s part of his timeless words of advice: Earn wisely and don’t be frivolous with your spending.
Buffett is famously frugal, and this is another life value that he attributes to his ability to become a self-made millionaire.
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After all, an urge to be frivolous and gamble away or spend all your money is a sure way to dwindle any income before it ever racks up.
And that advice doesn’t just apply to investors, homeowners, or wannabe business people - anyone with an income should focus their effort on saving and spending wisely.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t buy a new car, upgrade your property or go on that much-needed holiday - so long as that spending doesn’t sacrifice what you already have or are able to have.
- “I'll give my children 'enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.”
- “If you spend money on things you don’t need, soon you’ll have to sell the things you do need.”
- "If you're smart, you're going to make a lot of money without borrowing."
- "You can't borrow money at 18 or 20 percent and come out ahead.”
- "When major declines occur, they offer extraordinary opportunities to those who are not handicapped by debt.
No one can tell you when these will happen.
The light can at any time go from green to red without pausing at yellow."
Sure, Buffett buys companies, not properties, but there are hundreds of quotes from Buffett which could be helpful for property investors and homeowners.
Importantly, Buffett understands the importance of timing and countercyclical investing, he doesn’t buy cheap stock just because it’s cheap and he invests for the long term.
These are all valuable lessons for any property investor or buyer.
- “Never count on making a good sale.
Have the purchase price be so attractive that even a mediocre sale gives good results.”
- “It will be good for us in the long run, and I mean, there are 6.5 billion people in this world and it’s great for 300 million to keep enjoying more and more property but I think it’s terrific if, you know, the remainder do.”
- “Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it.”
- “A home should be the greatest asset for most people.”
- “If you find a house you like and you're going to stay in the locale for a while, buy it with a 30-year mortgage.”
- “Take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction – I doubt very much they will take it away in the end.”
One of the things which makes Buffett such an excellent role model is that he understands the cyclical nature of the economy and investment markets.
He doesn’t panic when a downturn occurs but is educated and knowledgeable enough to know how to take advantage of that downturn.
Even, for example, the way Buffett has handled the coronavirus pandemic is like he mastered the great recession.
Uniquely, Buffett has remained calm in the face of an unprecedented crisis.
In an interview with CNBC earlier this year he referred to the pandemic as ‘scary stuff’ but one that will not alter his long-term outlook or approach.
He understands that like great recessions and market crashes in the past, the market and those who are invested in it will come out the other side.
- “Only when the tide goes out, do you discover who's been swimming naked."
- "The years ahead will occasionally deliver major market declines - even panics - that will affect virtually all stocks.
No one can tell you when these traumas will occur."
- “Predicting rain doesn't count, building the ark does.”
- "[Market turbulence] does not bother Charlie [Munger] and me.
Indeed, we enjoy such price declines if we have funds available to increase our positions."
- "The best chance to deploy capital is when things are going down."
- "A climate of fear is their best friend.
Those who invest only when commentators are upbeat end up paying a heavy price for meaningless reassurance."
Every type of investor faces some type of risk in the asset they are investing into.
Risk varies between assets (think stock markets versus property), from business to business, and market timing.
But interestingly, Buffett’s views on risk aren’t entirely traditional, and he’s not a stranger to risky behaviour himself either.
Typically, risk is defined as ‘price volatility’ but Buffett says he sees heightened risk as an opportunity to buy at a cheaper price.
You might think he has always been a successful businessman but the reality is that, like many in his position, he has also had his share of failure.
- “Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing.”
- “The greater the potential for reward in the value portfolio, the less risk there is.”
- “Don’t risk what is important to you to get something which isn’t important to you.”
- "Never invest in a business you cannot understand."
- "We believe that a policy of portfolio concentration may well decrease risk if it raises, as it should, both the intensity with which an investor thinks about a business and the comfort-level he must feel with its economic characteristics before buying into it.”