Beyond hard work, great ideas, talent and timing, there are certain intangibles that go along with business success. Among the many qualities that are necessary to meet the challenges which come with building a company, there are three which every entrepreneur must possess: fear, courage and endurance.

These personal characteristics can yield great power when used properly, but if mishandled, can lead to ruin. The secret is knowing how to strike the right balance.


Take fear, for example. Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." When people give worry too much power, it can be debilitating, causing them to freeze in place and play it too safe at the expense of their dreams. Fear takes many forms, often showing up after rejection or failure, causing people to miss out on experiences that would enrich their lives.

However, as much as it's disparaged, fear is an essential part of life. Fear can keep people stuck, but it can also keep them safe from making rash decisions they will later regret. Healthy fear helps ensure a careful evaluation of any scenario before proceeding.

Many of the biggest opportunities life offers are initially met with gut-wrenching fear, but the dread can provide powerful motivation to prepare. For example, if you are terrified of public speaking but agree to deliver a presentation at your professional group, you will probably be motivated to prepare properly. Without fear, you don't get the exhilaration of confronting a frightening situation, or the confidence that results from overcoming it. A little healthy fear is actually desirable when it's used productively. As long as fear is not in the driver's seat (and is perhaps just tucked away in the glove box), it can be a valuable part of the journey.


Of course, courage must coexist alongside fear for entrepreneurs to make progress. Courage is the faith in our convictions that there is more out there, that there's a better way and that it is within our power to make it happen. Courage means defying naysayers, abandoning the orthodox way of doing things and leaving the comfort of the known to venture out into new territory.

While courage is something that many people applaud, in some situations, bravery can appear reckless, overly aggressive or downright foolish. For example, quitting your job to pursue your entrepreneurial dream could be considered an admirably bold act, but not if you have no way to support yourself and no actionable plan in place.


For any business goal, endurance is a must. Fortitude is the grit, persistence and resilience entrepreneurs need to remain in pursuit of their vision in spite of the odds. It's the energizing force that helps you overcome obstacles and drives you to put in long hours of work for days, weeks, months and beyond. Behind most "overnight successes" you will likely find years of hard work, the result of a fierce commitment to a passion.

You should steadfastly persevere in pursuit of your objective--that is, with an occasional pause. Although endurance is generally viewed in a positive light, it can also act as a blinder, preventing people from seeing they are going in the wrong direction.

Fortitude is about not giving up easily, but it doesn't mean sticking with what may become an ill-fated plan. Sometimes tenacity prevents people from making necessary changes, such as altering their original business model or abandoning the idea altogether. At some point, you have to decide whether your health, time, finances and relationships are worth the cost of continuing.

Whatever you aspire to, the right proportions of fear, courage and endurance will help you reach your goal.