I have to admit, this last week has been one of the toughest for me both personally and professionally. Lots has happened that has left me either sad, frustrated, and/or throwing my hands up in disbelief. Whatever the case, I found myself last night with a lack of energy and motivation to push through. After a bit of this and some venting, I realized that was not characteristic of me. I don’t just sit around, I’m a fighter and usually go out and take what I need.
Fighting through adversity is a very tough challenge, the negativity can be a slippery slope that can kill anyones drive and hunger. Trust me, as someone who has been down that road before, it is not healthy. What we really need to realize as entrepreneurs is – shit is going to go wrong – bottom line. Deadlines will not be met, an investor will back out, and/or people will just flat out not deliver. Which ever the case, again, shit is going to go wrong, suck it up. (It’s what I just told myself!)
There are two things I feel are important when dealing with adversity, dealing with failure and being resilient:
1. Failure is a part of life: We all fail and it is important to understand failure in inevitable. What is more valuable is learning to manage the rate at which you fail and the impact it has. By understanding things will go wrong and you will make mistakes, you learn to plan ahead and be ready for it. But, this requires you can admit you will make mistakes and you’re not too stubborn to take advice from others that will allow you to plan ahead. A business model might not work, a traffic acquisition method might dry up, or you might just flat out need to start a new business.
Whatever the case, it’s important to analyze and even scrutinize ourselves and how we react during these failures. Are we getting frustrated? Are we getting upset? Do we allow ourselves time away to clear the mind? etc.
2. How resilient can you really be?: Mark Suster wrote a great post about resiliency in his series on entrepreneur dna and it was one of my favorite reads about the topic of entrepreneurship. The only disagreement I have with it is a matter of semantics. I believe resiliency is based on how many punches you can take, how many times you can get knocked down, and get back up to keep moving forward. (see a theme about moving forward yet?!). No matter how tough we are, when we get knocked down it takes a lot out of you as a person. How you face with the adversity of being knocked down is truly important. Can you take a beating from people telling you your monetization strategy sucks, investors being vague about not investing, people telling you flat out, your idea sucks, or someone yelling at you at an event because you’re taking their business away. (yes, all of these, including the last happened to me in the last 4 months.)
The most notable to me was when I went to multiple angel investors and VC firms and every single one scrutinized the fact I did not have a technical co-founder. I took meetings all across town and even in other cities. I can tell you straight up, it wasn’t easy. Listening to investor after investor tell me this, while developer after developer was looking for a full time gig or wanting to start their own project. There were many nights I went home and said “this is just never going to happen.” I remember telling one of my investors I had lost faith trying to find a technical co-founder, but I was going to give it one final week of searching. One week turned into two and about 100 emails sent and 4-5 meetings later, success was achieved.
John Wooden said it best:
“It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.”
All that matters is when that final buzzer sounds or that final whistle blows, you are there standing, with your hands raised in the air, in victory. The building of a startup and successful exit or IPO is equivalent to the mental and physical toughness of winning championships in sports. The ability to understand your competition, the ability to deal with fatigue, the ability to deal with controversy, etc. All of it really makes or breaks your ability to fight for what is yours. Do you have what it takes to go out there and take it. The most important question you have to ask yourself, day in, and day out is: Do you have the mental and physical perseverance to deal with all the adversity we face as entrepreneurs?