Tiger By The Tail Tool
Secret 1: Persist, Adapt, Persist
Do you want to know what characteristic will help you master and succeed in your company more than any other?
Hands down, no doubt, undeniably, it’s the attitude and commitment of persistence.
So often for entrepreneurs, problems and issues come up that don’t have textbook solutions. When the recession of 2008–2009 hit companies around the world hard, entrepreneurs didn’t know where to turn for answers. Everyone was dealing with an overarching situation of lower sales, financial pressure, and failing markets.
Solutions aren’t always obvious. It can be like diagnosing a patient with multiple symptoms. Diagnosing a business
problem can involve many variables to the equation. When trouble hits, my first piece of advice is to take it easy on yourself. If you don’t know the answer immediately to every issue you face, you are just like everyone else. You are in the same struggle as every other entrepreneur and owner. Give yourself a break and don’t pressure yourself to come up with an answer straight off.
With a clear frame of mind you can dig in and start looking for solutions. Depending on the particular challenge, it can take days, weeks, or even years of persistence to find the appropriate resolution.
I once had an issue in building a restaurant where my outdoor patio application was not included in the original design and building approvals. When I went back to the city to get an approval, they literally laughed at me. They said there was no way I would ever get an approval. Yet the patio was a key part of our business model; it doubled our seating in the summer months! I was angry and determined to find a way. I just wouldn’t take no for an answer.
I spent the next three years using consultants, meeting with community reps, getting letters and signatures, and learning the process at city hall. I met with councilmen, submitted rezoning plans for a whole city block, and applied for my own patio permits. I fought a legal battle with a single neighbor who opposed the patio (and who happened to be a lawyer). I was persistent, very persistent, and at every step I adapted my tactics.
Friends, family, staff, other business owners, city officials, the building developer, consultants, and even my business partner suggested we give up. Many times I also wanted to quit, but I just couldn’t. I knew somewhere deep down that there had to be a way. I was prepared to put more effort into success than everyone I faced was prepared to put into defeating me.
Finally, I went to the city council to make my case in front of the highest level of municipal leaders. I had met them repeatedly and even developed a relationship with some.
In the end, my lobbying and efforts paid off—my patio was approved only three-and-a-half years after the restaurant opened! It was absolutely gratifying and had a tremendous impact on our business. I had been through anger, despair, frustration, confusion, hope, and gridlock. I wanted to murder some of the civic workers who were denying me my rights. I saw how government and business do not always mix.
That experience taught me a valuable lesson that applies across the board to business. Persistence in sales, financing, staffing, (and even patios), is the most critical skill you can have. It involves the constant effort to succeed and overcome. Persistence can help you look at a problem from angles that others just can’t or won’t see. In many parts of business, such as in product development, persistence goes hand in hand with innovation.
Innovation, or adaptation, is critical to growth. Combined with innovation, persistence keeps you looking at things differently and finding new angles for solutions. Persistence is the ability to adapt your approach to every problem to find unique solutions. If you do nothing else but persist in your company, you will achieve more success than most people.