Seasoned entrepreneurs know the power of perseverance. It’s just that not everyone practices it consistently.
Fortunately, perseverance is not an innate skill or one that can only be learned early in childhood. Everyone has the potential to achieve a “persistence mindset” and equip themselves with the tools to pursue it.
Whether you’re discouraged by a recent business setback or just want to build your resilience in times of uncertainty, these six lessons will help you any challenges your entrepreneurial journey.
1. Seek honest feedback from people you trust
Self-doubt is the nemesis of perseverance. But sometimes self-doubt is warranted – a sign that you may be taking your business down the wrong path. Seasoned founders know it’s important to acknowledge that little voice and ask if it has a point.
This is actually a sign of boldness and decisiveness, says Colin Hodge, founder of the popular dating app, DOWN. Hodge initially had some doubts about his startup’s ability to gain enough users and investment, which is why he advises entrepreneurs to “Bravely ask hard questions about your startup’s viability.”
This will then lead entrepreneurs to seek outside advice from trusted experts to get an unfiltered view of where their business stands.
This kind of vulnerability later led Hodge to a conversation with entrepreneurs from other startups that was “refreshingly honest, funny, and raw.” Ideally, a trusted outside counselor won’t be so afraid to give you tough love (or bad news) because they care about your success, not so much about your feelings. It can be hard to hear at times, but it will make your business stronger and you’ll be a better businessroundups.org in the long run.
2. Set ambitious but manageable goals
Another enemy of perseverance is overwhelm. Every businessroundups.org is pulled in several directions at once, but great entrepreneurs prioritize and balance these competing forces in the service of long-term goals.
Setting goals that you will achieve – that you can reach – is the key here. According to experts at the University of Eastern Washington, the best goals are:
- A mix of short and long term, but always with well-defined timelines
- Goals that motivate you to achieve them
- Flexible, so you can adjust as needed
- Written down and placed somewhere you can see it (such as on your office wall, a digital calendar or productivity tool, or anywhere else it makes sense)
In addition, the achievable goals are “SMART”:
- Specific, meaningful statements of purpose include the “who, what, when, where, why, and how”
- Measurable, which means that you can objectively demonstrate that the goal has been achieved
- Reachable, meaning they can reasonably be reached on their own (or as part of a team) with hard work
- Relevant, meaning they align with your longer-term goals
- Time-based, meaning they have a fixed “due date”.
SMART goals can be ambitious, but as you can see, they should be feasible. And you should reward yourself for achieving it or hitting milestones along the way.
3. Have a five-year plan
Related to goal setting, persistence requires long-term strategic thinking. Since it can take years to build a stable, successful business, this is especially important for entrepreneurs.
Therefore, many adhere to comprehensive, longer-term plans that outline the company’s overall mission and objectives, along with tactical instructions for achieving them. Five years is a good plan length, but you can go for a shorter or longer time horizon if you wish. The most important thing is to create a sweeping but actionable plan that you can hold yourself accountable to.
4. Break complicated projects into smaller tasks that you can do all at once
Life tends to get in the way. Even the SMARTEST goals and most elaborate long-term plans can fail if your (or your team’s) time and attention are too much of a drain.
The solution is to break longer or more complicated projects into smaller tasks that you can complete in one go. This sounds like Productivity 101, but many entrepreneurs find it hard to follow in the midst of all the chaos that comes with setting up and running a business.
Include these “job plans” in your goals and hold yourself accountable for achieving them. And give yourself smaller rewards when you successfully complete them.
5. Embrace uncertainty
Global economic uncertainty is hitting industries as diverse as construction and cybersecurity straight away. Some say the macro challenges facing entrepreneurs are unprecedented, but let’s face it: uncertainty and instability are facts of life. Successful entrepreneurs recognize uncertainty and persevere.
In fact, they do more than acknowledge uncertainty. They embrace it. They recognize that a certain amount of chaos is inevitable in life and business. They build this recognition into their business plans, goals and daily work. While it’s not ideal, there’s no getting around it – the only way is through.
6. Hire people who want to be there
Successful entrepreneurs don’t just keep going. Sheer willpower will get you far until you can’t anymore, and that tipping point often comes earlier in the growth cycle than new leaders expect.
The solution is to hire people who believe in what you’re building and who see their work as more than just a job.
“People seek purpose in their lives — and that includes work,” says Gartner analyst Jordan Turner. “The more an employer restricts those things that create this sense of purpose, the less likely employees are to stay in their positions.”
It is not enough to hire employees with a positive attitude and willingness to take on more responsibility. They may be pleasant and ambitious, but that doesn’t mean they care about what you’re building as much as you do. You have to find people who share your passion and get their buy-in for the future.
You are building something that you hope will last longer, or at least your role in leadership. And that will take years, if not decades. You will encounter many speed bumps (and worse) along the way.
The question you need to ask yourself is: How am I going to respond to these challenges? Shall I throw my hands in the air, or shall I push forward and persevere?
These guidelines will help you with the latter. But it’s your responsibility to keep going.
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