If at first you don’t succeed

Transforming a good idea into a commercial success requires determination – this is a universally accepted point. However, the amount of determination required is still sometimes underestimated. A quick look at the literary world makes this abundantly clear.

Agatha Christie (the most widely read author of fiction after Shakespeare) endured five years of publishing rejections, and J.K. Rowling (whose eventual combined sales were over £450 million) had her initial book rejected twelve times in a row. Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit was turned down so many times that she eventually decided to self-publish.

You might consider your business to exist in a very different world from that of authors and literature, but the frustrations encountered and determination required transcend the specific situation.

All of these books were clearly good ideas. Though they might not be on your personal reading list, time and experience has shown that the writers were on to something. There was nothing wrong with their thinking – they had written stories that there was a huge market for. However, the process of bringing that idea to the market was long and challenging.

Perhaps it is the culture of Dragons Den, X Factor and instant success that we are surrounded by which tricks people into thinking that, for them, it will be different – that their particular business idea is so innovative and wonderful they will fast track through the hard graft.

Whilst some individuals might get scooped up into instant success, the stories of these authors make clear that there is no direct correlation between the quality of your idea and the speed with which it gets noticed, accepted, appreciated and becomes a commercially viable product or service.

To depart from literature, both Richard Branson and James Dyson tell similar stories about the need for determination. They both credit their success more to being able to stick out the tough times and persevere with their plans rather than their initial innovations. Interestingly they both agree that a determined attitude is a quality which can be learnt and developed, not an innate ability.

Of course, your initial idea does have to make sense. However, if you have surrounded yourself with the right people, sought guidance and advice from trusted individuals rather than sycophantic yes-men and thoroughly thought through the detail then you can be assured that your course is worth pursuing.

The trick is to hold that course. If you have a business idea that makes sense, and enough determination, you can make things happen. If you keep working hard and are doing the right things you will create opportunities.

Perhaps it’s easy for people like Branson and Dyson to look back at their initial hard times as instrumental in developing a sense of urgency and determined work ethic now that they’ve established their empires, but if you read the biographies of successful entrepreneurs (and authors) across a wide variety of disciplines you will hear very similar stories across the board.

Determination is a required characteristic. In the same way that running not only gets you to your destination but improves your fitness while you get there, determination is not only needed in order for your idea to be realised but its implementation allows you to learn more about yourself and improve the way you work. Keep working, keep believing and good things will happen.

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