Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Persevere If You Want to Succeed in Business
By Gladys Edmunds, for USA TODAY
Perseverance is a key ingredient when seeking success in entrepreneurship. While addressing a church-based youth group of aspiring entrepreneurs, I noticed that a large number of participants became frustrated and disillusioned when they didn't achieve instant success.
One young man was at wits' end because his efforts to break into the music business had met with defeat. He said his homemade music CD had not been taken seriously and all doors to success appeared to be shut tight against him. He recited a number of young artists who had achieved fame and fortune long before they had reached his age of 16. His prime examples were Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers. A number of the other participants agreed with him. The group took the position that these young, famous artist couldn't have struggled and worked hard for very long. I suggested that he take a minute and do a review. I asked him to consider why he wanted to make it in the music business? Did he have a real passion and commitment and love for music, and if so, was he pushing forward? Or, was he stuck on the image of these young artists signing autographs for screaming adolescent girls and getting loads of media attention? The room fell silent.
Persistence is an important ingredient toward success. Persistence is a learned condition. We can learn it from our own experience or by watching someone else. I shared the following story that taught me how important and powerful persistence can be. While getting dressed for my first day at kindergarten, my mother picked up my shoe to put it on my foot and suddenly a mouse jumped out of my shoe. My mother screamed in fright. As for me, I was too excited about getting to school than to be concerned about a mouse taking a nap in my shoe. That evening during dinner, my mother told my dad what had happened and informed him that she needed a better home for her kids than our cramped rodent-infested dwelling. My father said that was not possible. The money just wasn't there yet. My mother listened quietly and said nothing. Shortly after that, my mother would take my brothers and me on streetcar rides to neighborhoods that she hoped to raise her children in. We walked tree-lined streets and admired houses with green grass, trees and flowers in the yard. We watched while kids my age played in backyards and walked their dogs. This was completely different from where we lived. After each trip, she would remind me not to mention the excursion to anyone, and especially my doubtful dad.
One day, while looking for something in my mother's closet, I happened on a huge glass piggy bank loaded with money. I thought I had struck gold. I ran to tell my mother what I had found. She told me she was saving for our new home and I must keep quiet about the huge pig in the closet. Every now and then I would take a peek in the closet, and sure enough that pig was growing fatter and fatter with coins and bills. My mother was saving every dime she could scrape from sewing and baby-sitting for neighbors. And, we continued our secret excursions into tree-lined neighborhoods. She was persistent in her goals and dreams. By the time I reached the third grade, my mother had more than enough for the down payment on her dream house. She also had enough to retire our old wringer clothes washer for a new automatic washer and dryer. That Thanksgiving found us in a new home in one of the neighborhoods we had frequently visited.
I never forgot that lesson. My mother told me that seeing others people's beautiful homes let her know there was a possibility for her to have a beautiful home, too. In concluding my remarks to the group, I reminded them: If you think you are going to make a decision to enter the music business or any other business by just walking through a door marked "success" and arriving at success, you had better think again.
The path to success is heavily strewn with obstacles. These obstacles show up in many ways, sometimes as doors being slammed in your face, not being taken seriously, or the negative and doubtful comments of others, or, as in my mother's case, having to delay reaching your success goal while you gather the necessary resources.
But if your heart is truly at home with your interest then you must prepare for those challenges. One way is by being persistent. Regardless of what anyone says or thinks persist in your dreams. Much of what it takes to get into any business or to reach a heartfelt dream has plenty to do with mental attitude. My mother had the love, passion and conviction to make a commitment to find a better life for her family. This world is overflowing with people who gave up on their desires, dreams and goals at the first sign of opposition. To achieve your dreams, be persistent. My mother's story and the success of young people like Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers serve as a reminder of the possibilities that exist for us if we persist.
Gladys Edmunds' Entrepreneurial Tightrope column appears Wednesdays. As a single, teen-age mom, Gladys made money doing laundry, cooking dinners for taxi drivers and selling fire extinguishers and Bibles door-to-door. Today, Edmunds, founder of Edmunds Travel Consultants in Pittsburgh, is a private coach/consultant in business development and author of There's No Business Like Your Own Business, published by Viking.