In the book Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder (Gallup Press, 2014), authors Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal examine the psychology of entrepreneurship. In the following edited excerpt, they discuss the role of determination in entrepreneurial success.
Highly successful entrepreneurs have a high adversity quotient--the ability to recover from setbacks. If you have high determination, you believe you have the ability to confront and overcome insurmountable obstacles.
Entrepreneurs with high determination don't give up when the going gets tough. Delays and obstructions don't deter you. Your tenacity and persistence allow you to recover from setbacks and failures. Whether confronted by a failed project, an unsuccessful product launch, or a disastrous end to a new venture, you know how to pick yourself up and resume your efforts. You strongly believe that you can overcome any obstacle by working harder.
You believe you have the capacity to control your circumstances, and you are highly motivated to change adversity into opportunity by taking action. Instead of giving in to feelings of frustration and anger when you encounter obstacles, you can see beyond the roadblocks and visualize a better future. Your optimistic attitude helps you attain the desired business outcome.
You take personal accountability for the consequences of your choices and actions, and doing so mobilizes you to act. You strongly believe that your setbacks and failures are the result of a lack of effort on your part, and you are willing to do whatever it takes to fix things. This compels you to double your efforts, try new options, and push forward when faced with adversity.
Entrepreneurs with high determination tenaciously pursue goals. You identify opportunities, take initiative, and persevere when faced with obstacles. You are focused on winning and will not take no for an answer. This attitude helps you launch new businesses, enter new markets, and invent new products despite formidable barriers.
Further, you have a high tolerance for stress and an immense capacity for sustained hard work. You confront every situation with robust energy and stamina; setbacks and obstacles strengthen your resolve to remain on task and work harder. Your ability to put in long hours ensures that your business survives through numerous ups and downs.
A word of caution: Entrepreneurs with high tenacity and perseverance can have a misplaced commitment to a selected course of action. In other words, you may have a tendency to stick with a failing strategy or continue allocating resources to a pet project or product, even when the results are consistently below expectations. You are also likely to harbor deep discontent, disappointment, and regret when faced with a failing venture or an unsuccessful launch. Because you have extremely high expectations for success, are highly dedicated, and are completely vested in your business, any outcome that doesn't meet your expectations can trigger regretful thinking.
In addition, you routinely make tough calls in the course of running your business--for instance, firing employees, litigating with competitors to protect intellectual property, negotiating late payments with financiers, or sorting disputes with suppliers. Having to make unpleasant decisions comes at a great personal cost to the highly vested entrepreneur. Understand that despite your extreme commitment to your venture, you might not attain all of your business goals. Keep close tabs on business outcomes, and adjust your strategy if necessary.
Determination in Action:
Thomas Edison, American inventor and businessman: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin: "If you are hurt, lick your wounds and get up again. If you've given it your absolute best, it's time to move forward."
Wang Chuan-Fu, founder and CEO of BYD, the Chinese electric car and battery company, when asked by Warren Buffett how BYD would sustain its lead in the market: "We'll never, never rest."
Maximizing Your Determination Talent:
- Share your optimistic outlook with your partners, employees, and investors.You see possibilities where others see barriers. Your determined optimism and work ethic will inspire and energize your team to do more.
- Energize your Determination talent by partnering with creative individuals. Working with inventive people can inspire you. Your uncanny ability to sort through many ideas and hone in on the best one will help transform their idea into a product or service for a customer.
- Always keep the big picture of your business in mind. This will help you navigate your way through the twists and turns of the entrepreneurial journey and strengthen your natural tendency to push forward in adverse circumstances.
- Monitor your progress toward predefined goals. When executing a strategy, set specific milestones so you know if the strategy is working or if you need to change course. This way, you can avoid costly mistakes early.
- Be attentive to the constantly shifting business landscape. Your tenacity to see a pet project or product through may blind you to changes in the market. Pay close attention to new technologies, a changing customer base, and emerging new business models. Staying aware of your business environment will help you switch gears if necessary.
- Don't focus on the cause of setbacks. Rather, direct your energy toward activities that can help you move forward. Setbacks and challenges are part of the entrepreneurial journey. Improving your reaction to adverse circumstances will keep you upbeat and reduce downtime when you do encounter obstacles.
- Keep things in perspective. Making tough calls is part of running a business. Don't dwell on unpleasant decisions. Rely on your support system--business partners, investors, mentors, and family members -- to help you deal with the personal toll these decisions can take on you.
- Reflect on your successes and failures. Set aside time to analyze why a decision yielded positive or negative results. Replicate the positive, and weed out the actions or behaviors that produced negative outcomes. Over time, you will build a repertoire of skills to make effective business decisions.