When we set out to become women business owners, we were likely attracted by the idea of pursuing our passion, making a difference, having more control of our time, making more money and even traveling the world, or at least the country.
The other side to entrepreneurship, however, is the mental weight we carry that most working people will never know. We’re responsible for the quality of our products and services, financial well-being of our company, training and success of our people…and the list goes on. As entrepreneurs, it starts and stops with us.
It’s a unique pressure, on a path filled with ups and downs. And while we wouldn’t have it any other way, it takes grit to remain focused at times. According to Angela Duckworth’s bestselling book Grit, it is defined as “passion and sustained perseverance applied toward long-term achievement, with no particular concern for rewards or recognition along the way.”
Duckworth says this long-term focus is what separates successful entrepreneurs from those who are more likely to give up, as a few of the core traits that make us successful include being future-oriented and motivated. We need an unrelenting belief that our business and ideas will defy the statistics and become the success story we have always dreamed of, and that the work we are doing is worth it.
The good news is that we can build grit as women entrepreneurs through habits and repetitive actions according to a recent article in Inc. magazine. Here are four practices to consider:
Stay accountable to your goals: Grit is about overall vision and an ultimate goal, rather than shorter-term wins. But these long-term goals are more easily set than accomplished. One major reason? A lack of clarity on how to get there. We must create a roadmap that clearly outlines our long-term goals (so we know what we’re working toward), with the short-term goals required to get there.
Avoid shiny-object syndrome: Progress on a long-term goal can be short-circuited when we get distracted. Shiny-object syndrome occurs when we continue to shift focus depending on new ideas or concepts that distract from our main goal. It can happen easily, and for the right reason, as we simply want to know we’re following the best course of action for our company. Stay focused.
Build your resourcefulness: With grit, we embrace every entrepreneurial challenge with passion and are ready to be resourceful and do whatever it takes to make our business work. How can we make what we currently have work? How can we bootstrap, leverage relationships or make every dollar stretch further? It’s this daily devotion to our long-term goal that defines grit.
Don’t let failure stop you: Entrepreneurs with grit don’t care about the statistics or chance they might fail, because they know they’ll keep going. Spanx Founder Sara Blakely, for instance, failed the LSAT twice, had doors literally slammed in her face as a fax machine salesperson for seven years and then invested $5,000 of her savings in the first Spanx prototype. Follow in the footsteps of Sara and other entrepreneurs with grit and take failure as a sign that you’re getting closer to success.
In just two short months, NAWBO is coming together in Austin, Texas, to power the dreams of women business owners from across the country and around the world. It’s an experience that will no doubt leave you feeling connected and inspired and with the grit it takes to meet all your goals. Join us at the National Women’s Business Conference and if you are a young woman entrepreneur, at the NextGen Forum.
I hope to see you there!
2023-2024 NAWBO National Board Chair