You have an idea you want to create to help others. That is the definition of being an entrepreneur, after all. But you already know you can't get it all done instantly. Big ideas take a long time to complete, and every situation is different.
If your idea starts taking longer than you initially thought, can you persist long enough to see it through?
Sometimes ideas take time
This part should come as no surprise to you. Dreaming up ideas is relatively easy compared to executing on the idea or developing it into something real. And of course, some ideas are easier than others.
There are ideas you can complete in a few minutes; some may take days, some could take years. The longer the idea takes to finish, the more you'll need to persist. The more determination you need.
In fact, this is often the sole differentiator between those who succeed and those who fail to bring their ideas into the world. Trust me; there are some side hustles that, had I not given up on them too soon, would be stand-alone businesses in their own right.
Of course, this is so easy to say. It's like a New Years' resolution or a pep-talk from a coach. "Get out there! Run the ball! You're amazing! You'll do great! Go!"
But when you can't complete the goal in a single sitting, you have a whole new challenge: maintaining your motivation, or in a word: persistence.
What I mean by "persist."
Here's what you learn when you check the definition of the word "persist."
1. continue in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.
Or in other words: to persevere.
In this case, your idea and the work you do is your course of action. You're probably (at least loosely) following a plan that, in the end, should result in the birth of your idea for the world to see.
Which, on a side note, is already scary enough, isn't it? What if people don't like your idea? (hint: don't worry about that, do it anyway).
Here's the catch though, the difficulty or opposition is YOU. It is the story you subconsciously tell yourself the moment the idea presents resistance. It's always smooth sailing until you run into a storm.
It's what you do when the storm hits that defines persistence for you.
Notice, I said, "for you." What it takes for you to persist is different than what I need to persist. And while being persistent is a quality entrepreneur absolutely must nurture, there's something you need to answer for yourself first: should you persist with this idea?
Should you really persist though?
What if your idea is not THE idea? Or what if this new idea is just an extension (aka new feature) of your core business? What if you step outside your idea and ask yourself, "would I myself use this?" and you decided you would not?
If your own validation, user feedback, and everything seems legitimately against this idea, should you persist?
That's up to you. Sometimes the world does not know it needs your idea yet. But be careful; you could be heading into a sunk cost -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing so long as you learn from the effort.
So let's assume you still love the idea and have the commitment to persist. How do you become persistent when the challenges mount against you?
Ways to be more persistent.
Some ways of being persistent are obvious. It could be as simple as having a little piece of paper with a motivational quote that connects you to your idea and gives you the energy to continue. But being persistent is often more subtle than that.
Here are several things to think about to put you on the road to success.
This is one of the least subtle ways of maintaining persistence. Bring focus to your idea by consciously setting aside time to work on it actively. Build processes around you to ignore everything else while you work on the idea.
Like many of the things entrepreneurs must do, learning to actually focus on something when the time calls for it takes practice, especially in a day where your phone will tease you at any moment.
Turn off reminders, set aside the phone (make sure to hide the screen), or even put on noise-canceling headphones if you need to.
Whatever it takes for you to focus.
You will also need long-term focus, which I personally believe automatically happens when you plan and block out your calendar to work on the same idea for as many days, weeks, or months as it takes you to complete it.
Desire for the outcome
You gotta want it. If your idea is ho-hum, or you get bored with it, you will have a lack of desire. When was the last time you persistently did something you didn't enjoy?
Here it helps to use your imagination. Take the time to imagine what the outcome will be when you finally deliver your work to the world, and you start helping people. And they give you the most incredible feedback; thankful you did what you have done for them.
Literally, close your eyes and imagine you're done. Take in the feelings of relief, pride, and anxious energy when you see the faces of the first users of your work.
This mental model, should you desire the outcome you imagined, will help build the desire you need to persist when times aren't as easy as you had hoped.
Self-confidence you can deliver
You have to believe you can do it. Here's the secret: you can. In fact, only you can. Only you can deliver your idea, your work. Nobody else can do precisely what you do, with your twist, your bravado, your micro-decisions that mold and shape your work.
So what is there but to be completely self-confident?
This is your budding masterpiece. Put in the work and show it off. What other people think is going to be what other people think. You'll never have control over others' thoughts. But you can control your own ideas and the effort it takes to work on them.
Your products will never see the light of day if don't overcome doubt. Do the work. You got this.
Support yourself, be positive
This is a natural follow-on to self-confidence. Once you know you are the only one who can do what you do, you also must support yourself to get it done.
This means to set yourself up with the things you need to complete your work. Do you need a coffee bar? A bigger desk? A nicer chair? Perhaps a faster computer? Maybe the colors around you could be spruced up? A plant on the desk?
Or maybe a perfect music playlist? Get exercise while you're at it. Eat well. Live well. A balanced life does more for your efficiency and work ethic than you might believe.
Whatever your soul needs to aid the arduous journey of doing the hard work worth doing.
Enjoy the process (don't dwell on the outcome)
This is the best advice. Sometimes we dwell on the outcome so much that we forget that the work we are doing every day to accomplish our goals is something to love.
A novel is made up of passages. Each passage is a song and dance between the writer and the imagination. A writer cherishes this dance. And from dance-to-dance strives to be a better writer -- each tiny improvement being delightful.
When you enjoy your journey's process, the outcome not only happens but contains all that energy you've built along the way, resulting in something better in the end than you probably imagined.
Be nimble, don't obsessively connect yourself to your idea
It's not all roses. Sometimes you will run into some really tall hurdles preventing you from smoothly executing your idea. This is where you test your mettle, where the weak fall away and the strong succeed.
But there is a catch.
Remember way back at the beginning where you determined you wanted to persist with this idea? Is that still true? Or should the idea shift a little? Should you pivot?
I'm not saying you should make a huge shift, totally changing the idea. But if your idea should pivot some to succeed, and you don't do it, you're upping your chances of failing.
For what reason? Why aren't you willing to pivot some? If it is for a perfect reason and your confident, keep going. But too often, entrepreneurs become their idea. If the idea fails, they're failures.
That hurts. And it's not true. Your idea is not you. It is something you created, true. But as a creator, you created it. Don't overly connect yourself to your ideas. Be ready to shift if there is an appropriate reason to.
But don't be too shifty. 😊
Always be learning; Always enjoy learning
As you progress in your entrepreneurial journey, you'll likely hear the "always be learning" mantra. I like to add "always enjoy learning" to that too. I think if you enjoy it, you're more likely to keep doing it.
And the more you learn the more you can connect your idea to the person you seek to help.
You see, learning isn't always about putting more information into your brain just for the sake of having more smarts. Often learning is best used to give yourself a variety of angles to look at to have more ways of connecting information to your users.
You can almost think of this as an experience. The more you learn and experience, the more you have to use when making decisions for your ideas.
How does this tie into persistence, though? The more experienced and the more information you've learned, the more avenues of creating those connections, the faster and better your decisions will be when you run into hard problems.
The feeling of solving hard problems because of the things you've learned will motivate you to persist long enough to finish your work.
Surround yourself with success; or at least like-minded people
I think we can all probably say that we have those friends that, no matter what, will say things that are a little bit less than positive. They'll consistently say things against your idea.
And while sometimes that can be useful, it doesn't help you to be persistent. The answer to this is pretty obvious but not necessarily easy to do.
It would help if you surrounded yourself with like-minded people. Better if they have succeeded at bringing an idea into the real world. That's what success is, not necessarily that their work produced a million dollars or tens of thousands of raving fans.
But the simple fact they are also creators and understand your struggle will help drive you.
Slow burn the project if you have to
If you don't have to rush your project, don't rush it. If your level of motivation and desire to complete this idea means it moves slowly while you work on something else, that's okay.
So long as you aren't just looking for a way to let yourself off the hook. More on that later.
Make a to-do list; do it
One thing I have found to really help is to imagine your project in reverse. Start with the end and work your way backward until you reach the start -- where you are now.
Then write down all the steps you backed through along the way. Then for each step write out the things you need to do to consider each step done.
Then actually do them.
When you're in a lull, looking for the best way to spend your time, grab that to-do list and start doing.
Put yourself on the hook, be responsible
You do have to be responsible for the outcome of your work. While you should not connect yourself so deeply to your idea that if it fails, you do too, you do need to take ownership.
Stand up and take command of your journey. Do it. Work on it. Accept the risks. Reap the rewards.
Everything you get and don't get is the result of your actions. It is not someone else's fault. It's not the market's fault. It's not the weather, your family, or the lack of hours in a day.
It is all on you. Use the weight of the responsibility of it to build strength and momentum to finish your idea.
Brag about your idea; set goals, publicly
This one is more fun. Brag. Make big claims -- out loud and online. Do it publicly, often, and follow-through. Tell everyone what you're working on, what it will do for them, how you can help, and let people know WHEN you'll be done.
Did you catch that? You have to follow through. Don't embarrass yourself by not doing what you told everyone you would do.
Stick by that "when."
Complete your work
Now that you have some steps to engineer persistence into your routine, get the work done. Bring your "thing" into the world and let us see it.
You must, because only you can.
Thank you. 🙏