Being a good entrepreneur does not always mean you will be successful. A good entrepreneur can innovate, take a new idea and grow it. A good entrepreneur is a dreamer, someone who isn’t afraid to think outside the lines. And a good entrepreneur can look at a situation critically and make decisions that will best benefit the company.
But what separates a good entrepreneur from a successful one? One word, grit.
Grit is that sought-after combination of spirit, passion, and most of all, perseverance. It is a willingness to push through every day and conquer the multitude of challenges that face any entrepreneur. The market is fickle, customers are picky, and things are going to get tough. Having the determination to never give up despite the situation is what helps an entrepreneur go from being innovative to successful.
There is no doubt that having technical ability or people skills can take you far. And it’s true that being a forward thinker will help you get ahead. But as an entrepreneur, you don’t have the support structure of a large finance department to back you up when times get tough. You might not have an IT help desk to call when something breaks. And whatever position you are in, you will have to make tough decisions that only you can make. These are the challenges people in the startup world face, and if you want to come out on top of it all, you need to meet them head on and persevere.
Failure is not a possibility, it is a certainty. Every entrepreneur will fail at some point in their career. It might be weekly, it might not happen for a while. But everyone eventually fails. The successful entrepreneur understands that failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. It is a chance to get up, wipe the dust off your pants, and keep going. Failures, both big and small, are the ultimate test of who can endure, and who will give up.
In a 1995 interview, Steve Jobs said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard and you pour so much of your life into this thing, there are such rough moments in time that most people give up. And I don’t blame them, it’s really tough.”
Business is hard. But an entrepreneur with grit, that spirit, passion, and most of all, perseverance, can overcome whatever is thrown at them. Great teammates and a support network help, but at the start of each day it is up to you to decide how to tackle it. Practice innovation, critical thinking, and optimism. But remember, it takes strength and determination to keep it going, day after day, week after week, month after month.
As Steve Tobak best put it,
Just as with life, successful businesses are marathons, not sprints, except there is no finish line. It’s just a way of life, so live it up.