Succeeding as an Entrepreneur requires Grit

The life of an entrepreneur

I think the word “success” is overused and misinterpreted.

With that in mind, let me first start by clarifying what I mean by success.

Success means you have achieved a goal that you have deliberately set out to accomplish.

If you start a marathon and then finish it in the time you had hoped to finish it within then in my definition, you would be successful. If you set out to lose 20lb in 6 months, and you lose 20lb in 6 months, you are successful. If you set out to complete your undergraduate degree in 4 years and you complete your undergraduate degree in 4 years, you are successful.

This means, to be successful, you should first have a goal, a finish line — something you can race towards and know when you’ve accomplished it.

Side note — it really bugs me when someone says “oh, they are so successful” about someone else. How would someone know if someone else is actually successful?

What does success as an entrepreneur look like?

That question can only be answered by the individual entrepreneur.

Some consider getting funding as a success — which is true if that’s the goal. Some entrepreneurs consider creating a company that has 100 employees successful. Some consider being acquired successful.

No one else can or should define success for you.

What is common across most entrepreneurs is that both goal setting and success achieving those goals is really hard.

It’s hard because even the act of setting goals is hard (the topic of a whole new blog post I would imagine).

Once an entrepreneur has set off to achieve that goal, achieving those goals is messy and exhausting work — especially when you don’t know where your next pay cheque is going to come from, how you will pay your rent, or when you feel you don’t have the slightest clue as to whether the work you are putting in is getting you closer to your goal.

You see, for an entrepreneur, goals are hard because of risk and uncertainty. It’s not about working hard —anyone can work hard. It’s about working hard when you have everything on the line and no clear path to success.

How in the world can you wake up every morning, with everything on the line, with everything to lose, with no idea about what the next few months look like, and find the energy to work towards those goals without a sense of panic setting in?

The secret is grit.

Those entrepreneurs that survive have grit.

Those that survive get up every morning and push through despite it all. Despite every setback, every failure, every misstep, every fear. They push through the trough of sorrow, the crash of ineptitude, and the wiggles of false hope.

The work of an entrepreneur is messy, hard, uncertain, scary — yet at the same time, it can be the most fulfilling work one can ever undertake.

Watch or Listen Instead

A couple of weeks ago I decided that I wanted to record some of the amazing conversations I’ve been having with people about innovation, being an entrepreneur, life, health, happiness. This desire came out of me saying “I should have recorded that” after long chats with people who inspire me.

In one of the first recordings I made, Todd Embley and I talk about grit and working hard (8 minutes):

You can watch or listen to the entire conversation here (70 minutes):

or on Sound Cloud:

What’s Your Journey?

I’m really interested in hearing about your challenges as an Innovator. Please share a note, comment or a story. If you like this post, please help by sharing it and giving the post a few claps so it can reach more people.

You can also follow me on twitter @joelsemeniuk where I regularly discuss all things innovation, and more importantly, the personal costs we innovators bear.