Persistence is often presented as the key element of entrepreneurial success, but this approach misses 99% of what makes a business viable and prosperous. A man can waste his life digging holes on the ground without achieving any positive results. No matter what goal we choose to pursue, our energies and resources will be always limited.
"To persevere in obstinate condolence is a course of impious stubbornness," wrote Shakespeare in his play Hamlet in the year 1601.
Overemphasising persistence can lead to commercial arrogance and blindness. Success is one, but errors can be infinite, such as repeatedly asking people who are obviously not interested, continue to use distribution channels that have proven inappropriate for certain products, sticking to formats or contents that customers don't like, or adopting a communication strategy that alienates the best prospects for your business.
The key element of successful entrepreneurship has nothing to do with persistence. Starting and growing a business has little to do with stubbornness and everything with flexibility. It is a psychological trait that is stifled by rigidity and enhanced by change.
Entrepreneurship is a skill that has everything to do with perception and vision. It is an ability that goes far beyond the sphere of commerce and that can be applied to all areas of human life, from cooking at home, to repairing old clothes.
If I had to give the shortest possible definition of entrepreneurship, I would propose the words "realistic double vision."
What sets entrepreneurs apart from the rest of the population is their capacity to link current problems to potential solutions that can be implemented realistically. While many devote countless hours to complain about problems, the entrepreneurial mind is steadily focused on figuring out solutions and assessing their feasibility.
Such double vision, when exercised systematically, conveys powers resembling a higher level of awareness. This skill, which is half-psychological and half-material, is the only characteristic present in all entrepreneurs. Double vision is a talent that dwarfs the role played by persistence. The bridge between perceived problems and realistic solutions can be built in ten different ways:
- ASSEMBLY: Changes in design that make products easier and cheaper to manufacture.
- SPACE: Moving products from low-demand to high-demand territories.
- PACKAGING: Repackaging old content into highly attractive new products.
- HUMAN: Organizing or motivating people in ways that dramatically increase the value of their output.
- TIME: Figuring out how to increase dramatically the speed of delivering a service.
- MATERIALS: Replacing old materials by new ones that increase the perceived value of products.
- STORY: Associating a story to products that renders them popular.
- DISTRIBUTION: Finding more efficient ways to use existing distribution channels.
- FINANCE: Identifying ways to fund a venture that previously seemed unworkable.
- MERGE OR SPLIT: Splitting, disaggregating, or uniting elements in ways that make them more valuable to consumers.
Entrepreneurs dig holes on the ground only if they have good reasons to believe that this is a feasible solution to a burning problem. Their psychological energies and material resources are focused on identifying viable responses to perceived opportunities. I propose "realistic double vision" as optimal methodology to define, teach, and develop entrepreneurship, or as Shakespeare put it in Hamlet, "making more matter with less art."
For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
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