"Patience is a virtue," the saying goes. But I'm not a patient person, and neither is my husband, yet we've managed to build and sell companies we stuck with even during the bad times.
It may be a matter of semantics, but discussions about entrepreneurship often boil down to the difference between patience and persistence.
and push toward the finish line, even if the finish line seems comically out of reach. It's about tenacity and stubbornness, in the best sense of both words.
As with the saying "good things come to those who wait,"
patience just seems to be the ability to ride things out — to wait until good things come your way without necessarily taking the steps to make that happen. But entrepreneurs need to take those steps, which is why persistence is key."patience just seems to be the ability to ride things out"
Persistence is a virtue for founders
Startup founders need persistence because everything always takes longer than expected — often two to three times longer. It can be difficult to keep things going when you're not seeing instant traction and success.
Indiegogo's Slava Rubin was rejected by more than 90 venture capitalists when he presented his vision of a crowdfunding platform in the early days. Back then, the pervasive thinking was "Why would anybody fund someone else's ideas?" But sometimes you need to believe in your idea even when no one else does. Last year Indiegogo raised a $40 million Series B. Countless successful entrepreneurs have a similar story to share.
Persistence is also crucial because you're bound to make mistakes, some big and some small. Messing up is a part of being human, but we learn and improve from each mistake. When you give up too early, you lose the opportunity to learn from your mistakes, and are then just left with failure.
The problem with patience
Many smart people never succeed as entrepreneurs. We often chalk this up to bad luck, but one of the main reasons why entrepreneurs never get their ventures off the ground is that they wait for things to come to them.
Success never comes to anyone. You need to go out and grab it.Success never comes to anyone. You need to go out and grab it.
Impatience is an integral part of leadership. A leader will have vision and passion, and then is compelled to act until that vision becomes a reality. Some people might call this "drive" — either way, it's an unwillingness to just sit with the status quo.
The takeawaysSo what does any of this mean for those of you who are building a product or dreaming of starting a company?
- Don't wait for the perfect moment or situation to start a business. You don't have to have all the pieces in place or everything figured out in order to get going.
- Don't expect someone to hand you an opportunity. Nothing worthwhile ever simply comes to you.
- Don't wait for your product to be perfect. Think about Mark Zuckerberg's saying, "Done is better than perfect." Even Steve Jobs said, "real artists ship."
- Don't sweat the small things that are out of your control. If you're sitting in traffic or waiting in line, no amount of restlessness is going to help the situation. The more frustrated you get, the less energy you'll have to spend on the things that matter.
- Realize that no one else will be on your same timetable. It's your job to convince others of the importance of what you're trying to do, and communicate that sense of urgency. You won't be successful if you continually push people without getting them to buy into your vision first.
- Don't give up if things take longer than planned. Look for signals that you're on the right track, keep your burn rate as low as possible and keep moving forward.