Entrepreneurship teaches you a number of things about life, in general. It is an immensely satisfying journey, even if you do not reach your intended destination. However, the journey is often very challenging and it takes a lot of patience, persistence and perseverance to succeed. And unless you have the passion for what you are doing, finding the other 3 Ps within you becomes challenging.
I advice aspiring entrepreneurs to not get taken up by stories of instant success. Those are rare. Instead look at the 1000s of others whose ventures did not succeed. Or did not succeed as aspired.
Even those who succeed, often a lot longer than they had planned for, and it is often tougher than they had imagined. What sets the successful apart from the ones that gave up are the 3 Ps that I outlined above.
Success is not overnight, and the graph of growth is NEVER the straight line gradually, and then rapidly, going up as you see in many projected revenue charts. There are ups and downs in the journey. Every entrepreneurial journey will have its ups and downs.
Be patient. Do not be in a hurry to win the world. This is about keeping a 3-5 year horizon to build a strong foundation. It should be a 10-year horizon to be really successful. It takes time.There will be occasions when there will be a lot of self-doubt. But assess if the long-term direction is right, even if it is taking longer than earlier assumed.
However, also be practical in assessing the merit of continuing. If you see that the business case or the customer adoption is not encouraging, or other assumptions around the business indicate that this concept is unlikely to work, then give up. But if it is only a timeline shift, be patient. Rearrange your plans, adjust the time period and patiently implement well on the ground.
Remember, the moment you stop believing in your dream, so will others – your employees, your customers…everyone around you…. And that is a sure shot route to failure.
Perseverance and Persistence
Entrepreneurial history is full of success stories of those who stayed long enough and treaded along patiently. Irrespective of all the obstacles and setbacks that come in your way, it’s important that you don’t take your eyes off your goal.
Often we see startups make the mistake of changing their business models or price-points or customer segments, etc. quickly, if they do not see quick traction in the market. You are never sure if by changing often you are being nimble and agile, or if you are making the mistake of changing too soon without giving the concept/model the time it needs to settle into the market.
There is no right answer to this question, and my goal was to just alert you to this point so that you could assess the situation deeply before taking a decision to change or retain.
Likewise with customers. Being persistent in chasing them even if they have not bought in the first presentation is often a game changer. Not that I am saying go to them with the same solution again and again. That may not be prudent. But if you go to them with solutions that could be useful to them, there is a possibility of getting an opportunity. (I am told that Sodexho took almost 3 years to close a contract with one of the largest IT companies in India, and that was one of their initial contracts that helped establish them in the market).
Assess and review the progress continuously. Learn from your mistakes and use them as stepping-stones to success. No business succeeds overnight. Years of hard work and labour go into building a strong foundation for any business. Even Rome was not built in a day!
Most businesses that ultimately succeed are the ones where the entrepreneurs had the grit, determination, patience and perseverance to succeed. In the most trying times it is these virtues that’ll pull you through, taking you through that last mile.
All businesses go through ups and downs, and almost all businesses and teams will have a number of challenging times. And that’s why the 4th P – passion – is critical. Unless you have passion, the temptation to give up at the first signs of challenge is quite high.
(With inputs from Rajiv Vaishnav)