Most of the time things just don’t go the way you would like when starting a company. It would be nice if it was always easy, but it usually isn’t. There are a lot of qualities that can help you succeed, but for me personally, persistence, perseverance and tenacity have been the most important. I know they may seem similar, but in my experience they have not only proven to be different, but also required at different times for different things.
If At First You Don’t Succeed…
Take persistence. To me, persistence is a bit like pestering. Even though you may have told me “no” a few times, as my offering gets better, I will keep coming back to try to convince you to do whatever it is I would like you to do. You have to be careful though, because pestering can also get you into trouble if someone just does not like what you have to offer. You have to have a good sense when you are pushing it too far, and you have to be offering something of real value. And being persistent is not being annoying. I always try to get permission to come back by saying, “so if I can make this better, if I can fix what you don’t like, can we talk again?” Whether it is trying to get people to invest or buy your product, no matter how good the offering, sometimes it still takes a lot of persistence.
Perseverance is needed when things get severe. There will always be times when you simply just want to give up. Truth be told, there will be times when the right thing to do is to give up, because you realize your great idea is just not going to make it. But, when you have every reason to believe your new venture truly solves a very real problem for a lot of people, you just have to persevere. Time is the most powerful marketing tactic. After about four years of selling ACT! people started saying, “Wow, you guys just came out of nowhere. You are an overnight success.” Whenever I heard people say that I would usually think, “Really? Where were you the last four years while we were pushing this boulder up the hill?” We persevered over a long period of time, gradually building momentum to the place where we finally took off. We knew we had something great, but we succeeded because we persevered.
Tenacity is related to what you do when you get new information. You constantly are faced with new data that may challenge what you are doing and how you are doing it. Tenacity gives you the ability to constantly adjust to changing information and conditions. The economy goes into a recession. A new competitor crops up. You lose a very important customer. Tenacity helps you constantly adjust to new information.
Three’s A Charm
At times it seems like you need and use all qualities at once, other times just one, but it has helped me to recognize the importance of all three. My mother used to say I was obnoxious, because when I got interested in something, I was like a dog with a bone. I simply would not stop asking questions while I was learning everything I could about whatever it was I was interested in. It drove her crazy, but even as a child I was developing an appreciation for persistence, perseverance and tenacity. They have served me well my entire life. I believe they’ll do the same for you.