I was at a networking event this past week and ran into an entrepreneur whose company had made the Inc 500/5000 list.
When I congratulated him on his success, he replied that he had "just been lucky". When I pressed him on this point, he insisted that the success of his rapidly growing company--a company that requires hard to obtain government contracts and the ability to quickly hire and scale highly technical employees--is based on nothing more than luck.
I couldn't disagree more.
To claim that you are just "lucky" is a disservice to those considering following an entrepreneurial path. If success is just based on luck, then small business owners have no control over their eventual success and "being unlucky" becomes an excuse for failure or choosing never to start.
Here are the reasons why you are not lucky to be an entrepreneur or small business owner:
You Had to Decide
You had to decide to step away from the normal and build your own company.
There was nothing safe about that decision, and just as you feared failure, you can't discount success by chalking it up to luck. Owning and sharing your decision with others can provide the motivation they need to pursue their own idea.
You Had To Take Action
Companies don't magically appear out of thin air and they don't scale on their own. Everyday you have to take steps to establish your company and make sure it is ready for growth.
Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great," speaks often on the topic of luck. Collins explains that all companies encounter the same amount of luck, good and bad. What matters, he says, is how well a company capitalizes on it.
You Had to Put Yourself Out There
You had to take the risk to tell others about your new venture and then convince them to buy from you or support your efforts. It takes months, sometimes years, to perfect a sales pitch and there is a lot of "no's" before you get to that first "yes". You had to listen intently to what your potential customer was asking for and fine-tune what your company offers to get it just right.
You Had to Stick With It
Through thick and thin, you had to continue to believe in your idea. Don't discount all the late nights, the lost time with your family, the anxiousness over making payroll or getting that big shipment in on time to luck. If success is based on luck, wouldn't much of the journey be easier?
I recently finished re-reading Tony Hsieh's "Delivering Happiness" and was struck by his absolute belief in Zappos. He was willing to put everything he owned personally into the company to make sure it survived. He wasn't lucky, he was a believer.
Your company is an "overnight success several years in the making" and before you tell others you are simply lucky, think through your entrepreneurial journey and recognize what it took to get your company to where it is today. Sharing that knowledge may be the very encouragement others need to hear to build their successful enterprise.