If you’ve decided to be an entrepreneur you’ve taken a leap of faith in your vision and ability to create something out of nothing. You begin with enthusiasm, anxiety, excitement and hope for all the dreams and goals you want to achieve. You might even have a business plan; a home office; an LLC; client leads. You have all the pieces in place to get started. But then you come to a line of delineation, separating the known – what you can control: your knowledge, environment, all the elements required to start your business – and the unknown – market response, sales, the economy, the weather!
Being an entrepreneur is a test of personal character. One aspect of your character is the ability to persevere through the challenges you will face.
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan
Once the line is crossed from the known things that are in your control, into the unknown and out of your control, such as the first day in actual business, there are constant internal and external hurdles that test the agility of your will power, confidence and creativity. The word for this is ‘motivation’ and it is the fuel that drives perseverance. The entrepreneur must work on all of these elements simultaneously, limited by the confines of energy and time; and only one of those is renewable.
The main culprit in losing time (i.e., productivity) is fractured energy from a lack of focus. This is why a business plan is so important. It lays out priorities, milestones and expectations that are time-bound. So that when the personal obstacles of self-doubt, fear or lack of knowledge show up there is already a practical, impartial road map laid out before you, and all you need is to put one foot in front of the other: to persevere.
Perseverance embodies the concept of “Failing Forward.” It means using failure as a tool to propel you toward better decisions in the future. Fear of failure keeps us stagnant. But when we acknowledge the potential for failure, we put ourselves in a position of power to deal with it rationally. That is what a business plan is for and why it can be the most important part of the foundation of a business. There will be times when nothing seems to be going right or things don’t seem to be moving as fast as we would like. The plan provides a baseline and benchmarks to be able to track the progress that has been made at any given point: number of potential customers reached; strategy implementation; income goals. When we fail at achieving short-term objectives a plan helps to identify mistakes and strategize how to get back on track.
“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” – Babe Ruth
No one who has achieved great success hasn’t failed. Sometimes a lot. The difference between people who achieve their dreams and those who don’t is that they didn’t quit. Successful people keep practicing, improving and adjusting, which takes focus and discipline.
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan