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July 21, 2010 / companystarter

Tenacity: To Leap A Series of Hurdles

This August we will go into production and create the first set of real life, honest-to-goodness product samples we will use for sales and promotion.  That’s just a few weeks away and I CAN NOT wait to get there.

But it’s mind-numbing to me that we had planned to go into production in April.  Then in June.  Then July.  Now August.  Each time we rewrote the plan, we based our new timeline on the knowledge we had at the time.  And each time a new hurdle arose which not only put off the timeline, but threatened to derail the whole business.  I’m proud to say that we just overcame the last of our known hurdles and can finally head into production.

It’s appropriate that Mark Suster lists tenacity as the first of 12 characteristics in the Entrepreneur’s DNA.  Mark talks about tenacity in the context of not taking no for an answer, not listening to the nay-sayers who will tell you your idea blows, or it’s been done, or no one will buy it.  In the face of immense pressure to fold, entrepreneurs who believe in their product or idea need tenacity to outlive the criticism.

I agree with that, but in my experience it goes much further than that.  Hearing “no” or “bad idea” is just the first of a thousand hurdles an entrepreneur will encounter on the race to launch, and thousands over the course of the life of the business.  Each one has the potential to derail the whole venture, and only the tenacious can get past each of them.

As I have worked with my partners and supporters to launch my company, I’m constantly in awe of how many times we could have folded.  Some setbacks are just frustrating, like work not being completed on time.  Others are downright devastating and required several weeks of research, rethinking, ingenuity, and, of course, tenacity.  How simple would it have been to say, “ugh, it’s not worth it, I can’t do it, it’s too hard”?  Very, very easy.

In each case, after the initial dust settled, our solutions not only solved the problem, but we rose from the ashes with a stronger product, a better idea, and increased confidence.  With the passage of each hurdle, we are closer and closer to launch.

Of course I want this to be easy.  But it’s not.  It’s launching a business with a million parts and dozens of tasks.  They can’t all go well.  But that’s entrepreneurship.  The payoff on the other end is seeing the result, knowing that if not for your hard work, there would be nothing.  And in between, we learn, we grow, we become enriched, and we prosper.

So Mark is right – tenacity is a critical element.  But let’s be clear.  Getting past “no” is the easy part.

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