Perseverance stories: the rewards of not giving up


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January 29th, 2015
Hiscox Experts

Hiscox insures more than 300,000 UK businesses and has been named Best Small Business Insurance Provider by Start Your Business magazine for eight years in a row.

Having the perseverance to forge ahead is one of the key attributes for any entrepreneur. It teaches you the value of failure and recovery. But, how do you remain committed to your business objectives when you’re met with setbacks?

Depending on the industry that you work in, it involves finding creative solutions to problems as well as not allowing a no to prevent you from pursuing your goal.

Businesses can face very differing challenges. Whether you’re dealing with new client prospects, pitching work as a freelancer or seeking investment for your start-up, in most instances what’s required is tenacity, discipline and resilience. Below we share two stories from businesses where persevering has paid off.

“Big clients don’t come easy – but that’s the challenge”: The sole trader story

After absorbing everything she knew from working at large agencies, copywriter Katy Young (external link) decided to work for herself three years ago: “I always had the desire to work independently and never felt fully satisfied doing things to the beat of someone else’s drum.

“It was a somewhat unconventional route given I didn’t have many clients – in fact, I didn’t have any. But I was determined to make it work and tirelessly pursued every connection which I sourced myself.”

As a freelance copywriter, how do you fare against the competition in the wider creative world? Many sole traders, including Katy, would agree that commitment and resilience help you take the next step to realise your goal.

“At the start, it was challenging and pretty sporadic. There were times when I wondered when the next job would come in but slowly and surely, after building relationships and working around the clock to produce my best work, the commitment paid off and people started recognising the quality of my writing and took a shine to my unique style.“

“Over the past three years, I have written for some premium brands and worked with some fascinating clients. I pushed myself hard at the beginning but only because I knew what I wanted to achieve. Nothing worth having ever comes easy in life.”

For Katy, whilst timing played a part in helping her land some big clients, perseverance, a honed approach, determination and new business through recommendations led her to success.

“It’s about chipping away until people can no longer say no”: The start-up story

In the small business sphere, hardships can be financial. It can be profoundly frustrating when you lose out on securing financial backing for your business idea. This happened to Nick Hungerford, CEO of Nutmeg (external link) when he was seeking funding to launch his online-based investment management business.

“When I got negative feedback or a reason not to invest in me, I’d go away and fix it. I’d make sure possible investors couldn't possibly come back with the same reason at the next pitch.”

In a competitive market, pitching for financial investment can be daunting. The realisation that the goal you’ve worked towards might never come to fruition can be even harder to take.

“It was really brutal and I hugely questioned myself, but it’s about chipping away until people can no longer say no and being self-aware enough to know that negative feedback is not a personal criticism, it’s a free and honest bit of advice as to how you can improve.”

With this in mind, Hungerford remained committed searching for investment opportunities where he could. Finally, his perseverance paid off securing the necessary investment from Tim Draper (an investor in both Hotmail and Skype) and the vindication he was looking for.

Nutmeg launched in London in 2011 and has since raised capital from other investors. As the first online investment management business, Nutmeg has now more than 35,000 customers and is one of the UK’s fastest-growing financial firms.

So, how do you persevere with your vision?

Perseverance isn’t necessarily something that can be taught, but there are processes and attitudes it helps to adapt to reach your goal.

  • Clarity: Being clear on your vision and how you intend to get there will help you when you run into a lot of unnecessary trial and errors.
  • Overcome obstructions: There are bound to be several obstacles along the path to your business goal. By planning a diversion strategy ahead of these setbacks, you can quickly re-evaluate your business and what comes next.
  • Be committed: If you don’t commit to the cause, then you’re likely to withdraw from the task at hand and give up all too easily. To make things a success, dedication plays a huge part.
  • Re-evaluate: if your target is unreachable for the time being, set yourself more achievable goals. This shows great resilience and forward-thinking, helping you to create an alternative pathway to your overall objective.

You may not be able to ensure that it’s a yes every time, but there’s a lesson to be learnt in the value of being persistent. Entrepreneurs, in their very nature, possess the courage needed to prosper. All it takes is the same confidence and wisdom to overcome adversity as it did for Katy and Nick. Persistence is not futile, so it may seem.

Read more perseverance stories from small businesses here.