Watch a blade of grass nestle into a crack in driveway pavement. Little by little it sets down its roots through substance seemingly impervious to its fragile hair-like tissue. With little more than vapors stolen from air… and sunlight grasped as it would stream by… this wonder of nature plants itself firmly in concrete. And there it grows, defying the odds, persisting through ravaging storms and frustrating the irked homeowner who weekly plucks at it with vengeance.
This is your nature lesson on the value of tenacity. In business as in nature, tenacity overcomes all obstacles. It is the single force that must be innate in the protagonist. It has many synonyms with both good and bad connotations, resolve, drive, obstinacy, doggedness, and stubbornness to name a few. But the two that translate into business success are persistency and staying power.
One of the first things they teach you in a college MBA program is called the hockey stick. Simply put, a new business (or new product or service) loses money for a short period of time, turns the corner and then earns profit for a long time into the future. This oversimplified lesson helps to explain why MBA’s typically make good employees for big companies (already capitalized for staying power) but rarely are successful business starters. Can you imagine what would happen to our blade of grass if built into its genome was an expectation that after a short cost of laying down its roots it would just continue to grow?
Grass grows into concrete and continues to thrive because it has persistency and staying power. It doesn’t ever quit. Even after its roots lock in, it works quickly and persistently storing enough energy to withstand long periods of darkness, drought, storms and continual decapitation by its taunted homeowner. The concrete is stronger, the storms are more powerful and the vexed homeowner is smarter but there grows the grass. It succeeds in the end because it has staying power.
Translation: If you would be a successful entrepreneur, before you begin in earnest, clean up your debts, set aside a reserve, amass allies who will put resources at your disposal, plan not only for initial losses but plan with enough flexibility to persevere through many setbacks continually recurring over long periods of time. Then, like a blade of grass, you too may beat the odds and thrive to vex those who wish you gone.
When I first started training entrepreneurs, my Bizar Financing course, How to Start, Buy or Build a Business with None of Your Own Cash, was misunderstood by many who thought I was implying that you don’t need capital to succeed in business. Nothing could be further from the truth. Capital, which embodies staying power, is an essential for long-term business success. But that doesn’t mean it has to be your cash capital. As those who have learned Bizar Financing know, the role of an entrepreneur is to leverage the capital of other people. To do that the entrepreneur must have personal sustainability handled. And, I’ve watched many of my course graduates succeed by working 80 hours a week, 40 at a fulltime job and 40 putting their business plan into action. They created enough income from their job to handle living needs while orchestrating the resources of others to effectively start or buy their own companies. They had staying power, first from a job which over time transitioned to a profitable, cash rich business.
To put a bow on this blog post, a job (even one you don’t like) can be your hook into the concrete. After that, your ability to put down roots and flourish into the sunlight is your knowledge of financial leverage and your ability to orchestrate the time, talent and resources of other people to, over time, build a sustainable business of your own.
Please join me on The Big Pitch on Biz Talk Radio Monday – Friday 3pm ET/Noon PT as we discuss topics like this and many others to help entrepreneurs like yourself with common challenges in today’s business world. The following link will take you directly to the internet player, so just click the link and you are ready to go.
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