Perseverance stories: How three small businesses won through perseverance
No matter how passionate you are about your small business, it’s often how you tackle the everyday challenges that define your success, whether that’s a tricky client or a lack of capital to take your idea to the next level.
The most difficult challenge of all though can be to remain persistent, no matter how many knockbacks you receive when it comes to implementing the vision for your business.
Our IT columnist Mike Briercliffe has outlined the three different types of persistence in business, including an example from his own history. But each owner will face their own challenges, which is why below we hear from three very different businesses on what persistence and persevering means to them.
As we see, their attitude is ultimately what’s helped them go from strength to strength.
Have a clear vision
Cary Curtis, managing director of graduate recruitment company Give A Grad A Go (external link), started his business venture in 2009 from home, and now has a 16-strong team that grew exponentially in 2014: “Growing my business from a one-man band was an exciting and risky venture, but I had determination and, on top of that, the conviction that it would pay off.”
Even with the conviction that a business will work, there is no replacement for perseverance. On this front, Cary is clear: “Don’t accept no for answer, until enough people tell you it definitely can’t be done.”
However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. In his quest for a website that will meet the demands of the business, the build has been two years and three different agencies in the making. To ensure that the result matches his concept, Cary has turned amateur developer, designer, copywriter and producer.
“It has been a steep learning curve and I’ve had to get to grips with these roles to keep the project on track,” says Cary. “Even when the first two agencies couldn’t deliver we persisted until we found one that shared our vision.”
Although he may be a jack-of-all-trades in his position as head of the company, Cary advises entrepreneurs to have clarity of vision when it comes to pursuing your ultimate goal.
“Once you know where you are headed it’s vital to keep that ambition at the forefront of your mind. Never give up trying to achieve your goal, even when problems keep coming your way.”
Commit to your goal
One of the challenges that adds pressure at work are tight deadlines, whether internally or from a client. Sometimes it can be tempting not to progress with work that has a tight turnaround, but for the small and the brave, the rewards can be worth it.
Hannah Ackford, senior marketing manager at bespoke software and app development company Rokk Media (external link), is no stranger to a deadline. However, in the run-up to the Olympics in 2012, she was faced with what seemed like an impossible challenge:
“With a lead time of just five weeks we were asked by a client to design, develop and launch a specialist goal-setting application for iPad in time for London 2012.”
Hannah looks back on this project as a challenge that not only proved the worth of the business, but also the perseverance of a committed team of professionals who had the tenacity to succeed.
“It would have been simple to turn down this opportunity because of the apparent unrealistic deadline or even to produce an app that we were simply content with,” Hannah says.
“However, the team of designers and developers really pulled together. We planned, we worked overtime and persevered to deliver a stunning multi-media application that we are still extremely proud of today.”
Know when to start over
Henry Oakes, 24, is the co-founder of Geonomics (external link), a lottery gaming company that has raised over £25m investment and employs 40 people at its London headquarters.
Henry has faced his share of knocks, especially as a young entrepreneur launching a start-up in the middle of the credit crunch.
“Getting investors was a painful 18 months of rejection before finally being backed,” says Henry. “The key is how you react to failure, how fast you can recognise when something’s not working, and how well you can adapt to your new world.”
Seeing results after many difficult months was a hard-earned reward for Henry, who values this experience as one that has helped him to embrace experimentation and learn that persistence pays off.
“The thing about starting a business is that it’s almost certainly not going to go to plan every step of the way,” he says. “Even most ‘overnight successes’, when you dig deeper, are stories of overcoming adversity, making mistakes, learning from failures – and then, finally, hitting the jackpot. And that’s where clichés like ‘1% inspiration, 99% perspiration’ come from.”
Henry, Hannah and Cary are just three examples who’ve seen rewards through perseverance, belief and clarity of vision. But while their work is unique, their attitude is similar to thousands of small businesses across the country who’ve seen persistence pay off.