Because I’m a first-time entrepreneur, I’m always interested in learning from other, more experienced entrepreneurs. I follow several blogs that provide great tips and lessons-learned, but two of my favorites are written by Amy Rees Anderson and Barbara Corcoran. Being CEO can be lonely, so I especially like reading posts from these two women because it often feels like what they’ve written is exactly what I need at that particular time.
This week both Amy and Barbara wrote about persistence. Barbara even highlighted this as a trait that all successful entrepreneurs share:
The fact is, as an entrepreneur, if you are not mentally and physically able to keep going for a long period of time, bouncing back from failures and struggles, without losing sight of your end goal, then you will never be successful. Success also needs a thick skin. It takes a mindset and a support system that will not let anyone or anything stand in the way of reaching a goal. Oh, and persistence does not mean resisting failure, it’s the opposite because you need to fail or make mistakes as it’s how to you learn to be successful.
My first tip on persistence: Focus on the present – focus on what you can achieve today.
It’s said that three out of four startups fail, so persistence and perseverance in the face of adversity are virtues I really value. That’s why Amy Rees Anderson’s post earlier this month about Living in the Present really hit home for me, especially the quote she referenced that’s attributed to the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu:
If you are depressed, you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
I think a key attribute of a successful entrepreneur is the ability to see things through until the end in spite of fear, obstacles, discouragement, and opposition. For me, the only way to achieve this sort of steadfastness is to live in the present. I think many entrepreneurs give up because they are depressed about mistakes they’ve made in the past, or anxious about difficulties they may face in the future. To persevere, you have to focus on the present, otherwise the worry that comes with focusing on the past or the future will paralyze you.
My second tip on persistence: Don’t compare yourself to others.
I have a friend who often reminds her children not to compare their insides to others’ outsides. She tells them this when they’re feeling anxious about how they compare to their friends. This concept applies to the startup world as well; persevering is a lot easier when you have a clear understanding of how the challenges you’re facing compare to what others have gone through.
AboutOne’s new Board member Paul Allen recently recommended that I read “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Paul knows that entrepreneurs often talk about how great it is to start a business, but they rarely share how hard it is to keep one going. To persevere, you need to know that other startups have faced and weathered challenges similar to the ones you’re facing. Don’t stop just because you’re comparing your insides to their outsides.
I really love this quote from Winston Churchill:
When you are going through hell, keep going.
What are your tips, to keep going and persevere?