This is a topic I am passionate about. A topic that I am quick to argue and debate, and one that I bet many successful entrepreneurs would side with me on. The topic is the concept of "luck." Luck is a word that very often is used with a negative connotation. "Oh, she's so lucky she had the chance to..." or, "He's so lucky he was at the right place at the right time." Jealousy comes to mind quite often when I hear the word "luck" used. Luck as it relates to business is something I think can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I grew up in a home with two entrepreneurs who tried just about every job once and nothing was too menial for them. They were immigrants to Canada with no one to support them, and an (extremely adorable) newborn daughter -- they simply had to find a way to make it work. There could be no excuses if they wanted to put food on the table. Today, they are accomplished people who are now retired and enjoying life to the fullest.
Lucky? Some would say so, but not me. There was no luck involved in their lives. From cancer to market swings, from startup failures to business volatility, it seemed that there was always a barrier to success. Their ultimate accomplishments were based around some of the traits that we find today in the most successful entrepreneurs:
1) A relentless pursuit for excellence. Whether they were going to be working in a restaurant or running a successful internet company, they were relentless in their pursuit to excel at what they did regardless of the task.
2) They never saw themselves as victims. When the going got tough, they got tougher. They accepted responsibility for their failures, learned from those failures and forged ahead to the next opportunity.
3) Perseverance. If an idea wasn't rolling out according to plan, instead of giving up, they would reinvent the idea. Failure was not an option.
4) A drive to innovate. Many businesses start because a person sees a need in an industry or feels they can do something better than what exists in the market. Innovation was always a motivator for them and inspiration came from the small daily accomplishments.
5) Passion. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that you can't be successful at what you do if you aren't passionate about what you do.
The ability to see beyond the failure and find the next opportunity is truly what many define as "luck."
Businesses small and large all start the same way: with an idea. An idea that people spend hours, days and weeks struggling to figure out how to market and sell, and then dealing with inevitable volatility if and/or when success has hit.
What uniquely defines one's "luck" is the perseverance involved in seeing the idea come to fruition. An idea is just that -- an idea -- and without the hard work and devotion required to make it successful, it will never develop beyond that.
I'm often approached by entrepreneurs who want advice on how to take their idea and make it into a reality. They want to know what secrets we used to build our brand identity. The secret behind any great business is perseverance. At PTPA Media, we struggled like crazy to build credibility. We literally made thousands of calls to potential clients to educate them on our services. We pitched hundreds of producers for television opportunities.
I would love to tell you that doing that for a few years was enough and that magically businesses then started seeking us out, but that would be a lie. It is a constant effort of educating consumers, putting yourself out there, reinventing yourself and exceeding your customers' expectations.
Those who believe they are simply unlucky in business very often are unlucky because that's what they have decided is their future. No business operates without bumps in the road, but the "lucky" people are the ones who can see beyond the failures, learn from them, get right back to business, and try to overcome the next barrier by learning from the last.
Next time you feel like lady luck is not on your side, think back to some of the great minds of our time. Think about the Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak story, whose Apple computers literally disappeared from the marketplace for years before becoming the trend setting leaders they are now recognized as. They took Apple from a great tasting fruit to a brand that permeates most homes across North America today. Now that's perseverance.
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