When you're just starting out in business, experts may have you believe that all you need to succeed is to work hard.
That would be true if all things were equal. But all things are not equal when you're new. In fact, when you're starting a new business, the deck is unfairly stacked against you.
You're starting from a place of a disadvantage compared to your competitors who are already established.
What You Have Going Against You
You're probably still working at a day job, which means you don't have a lot of time and energy left to work on your business. You still have to pay your bills; they won't wait until your business takes off. So you build your business on the side until you can quit your job.
Neither do you have a lot of money--you may even have debt--hence, the day job. At the same time, setting up a business costs money: you have to buy technology, supplies, training, and advertising. And since you haven't optimized your marketing yet, a lot of investment goes into tweaking things until you get a positive and sustainable ROI. In the meantime, you're bleeding money.
You also need a lot of training, because you haven't gained the experience yet to have insight into what works and what doesn't. Training, again, costs money and takes time, and there's no guarantee that what you learn is what works for your business. There may be plenty of trial and error until you succeed.
Another disadvantage you have is your lack of an audience. This means you need to be 10x better than your established competitors just to get attention. I've noticed that the least impressive stuff I make today gets much more exposure than my most impressive stuff when I was new. That's because of the engaged audience I've built and the relationships I've nurtured since then.
Finally, until you have some measure of success, you won't have a lot of clout yet. Clout is important, because that's how you get others, even strangers, to help you out. It's extremely useful, whether you're looking to just get more exposure or to find more investors to fund your business venture.
What You Really Need (On Top of Working Hard)
This is not to say you don't need to work hard. You do, but elbow grease isn't enough. If you want to succeed, you need more than sweat and toil. You also need:
You have to believe that success is possible, even against all odds. I'm not trying to go all woo-woo on you. There's a practical reason why you need blind optimism: That unshakeable belief can be the last thing that keeps you going when success is just beyond that seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Blind optimism will keep you from giving up. It's what will make you bust through or creatively go around brick walls.
"The brick walls are not there to keep us out," Randy Pausch wrote in The Last Lecture, "the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!"
So if you really want to succeed, then you have to believe that you can make it happen. Don't let the lack of time, money, training, or clout keep you out. Only those who don't want success badly enough will let those things stop them.
You could keep your nose to the grindstone without letting obstacles deter you and still not succeed. That happens when you implement the wrong strategies.
On top of being persistent and hard-working, you'll be more successful if you also execute smartly by doing what works. Study what others are doing that worked for them, and apply them in your business. No need to reinvent the wheel.
Because you're a budding entrepreneur, the deck is stacked against you. But through a combination of sweat, belief in yourself, and effective strategies, you can succeed.