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The last time we released a Strap named Relentless was in October of 2012 - I even blogged about it. Rather than write about it again, I wanted to share that old post for two reasons: First, it's actually really cool to read something my 28-year-old self said. Second - what I said then is still true now.
Here it is:
With the election coming up soon, it’s interesting to hear both candidates and their views on small business. Both Governor Romney and President Obama are so incredibly passionate about the values of small business in our nation, and it’s not hard to see why. As a small business, we have to innovate to compete. We have to keep pushing the boundaries and create, constantly hustling in order to survive.
I love that.
Nothing pushes a nation forward more than people who are willing to hustle. I remember reading an article one time about a self made millionaire in the car scrapping business. He said he beat his competition because he never stopped working. He acknowledged that he wasn’t necessarily the smartest person, but he said something to the effect that it was very hard to compete with someone that never stopped. That reminded me of one of my very favorite words: Relentless. Webster’s dictionary defines relentless as ‘showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace’. I love it, the idea that you will never quit. You’ll never let the intensity fade or the pace slow. Lexus apparently loves this word too, as they have one of the best slogans I’ve ever heard from a luxury car brand: “The relentless pursuit of perfection.”
My question though is how many small business owners in the US today are actually relentless? How many of them fail and give up? How many never even start because the fear of failure cripples them? I think these are the people I’ve heard Mark Cuban refer to as ‘wantrapreneurs’. The people that love the idea of owning their own business, but want someone to lead the way for them; ie a job with the main perk being that you can call yourself a business owner.
We’ve all had friends that had a business card before they had a business. They’re usually the same ones working an hourly job with the title ‘CEO and President of XYZ Company’ as their ‘works at’ on Facebook. I understand the concept of ‘fake it til you make it'; appearance is extremely important when trying to build a business. What I’m nervous about is that I feel like we’ve become a society based on the lifestyle I’ve coined the ‘Borderline Millionaire.’
Let me explain.
There is a difference between being a talker and a doer. A doer is one that executes, a talker is one that talks so well about what they’re going to do that they believe it themselves. They get this mindset that “tomorrow I am going to accomplish these things, and I’ll be set for life.” Tomorrow comes, those things never come to fruition, and more things get added on to the next day’s list of things that will be accomplished. This is the incredibly tiring cycle of the Borderline Millionaire. I would estimate from people I’ve talked to personally that at least 95% of people that call themselves entrepreneurs fall into this category, with the remaining 5% being real doers.
I get upset when the people I mentor fall back into that 95%. While most people see the results (success) of the 5%, they never see the action it took for them to get there. They’ve never seen the blood, sweat and tears a real entrepreneur goes through as they chase relentlessly towards the pursuit of their passion. From what I’ve seen, the 95% are typically willing to spend more time validating why someone else is more successful than they are over actually working towards their own goals, and that’s unfortunate.
I speak fervently on the topic as I’ve been there before. I’ve seen moderate success; At 23 I had 3 homes, a Lamborghini and a Range Rover. I’ve also seen complete failure; at 25 I lost everything I had from my poor choice in business partners. I remember having less than $500 to my name and getting turned down for a job as a barista at Starbucks. I had no money for rent and had to ask friends for a lift to job interviews because I had no car. It was the most humbling time in my entire life. I went through what every potential entrepreneur considers the very worst possible outcome: losing it all.
As much as the memory of that time still stings, it was an eye opener for me. I now knew what it felt like to lose, and I wasn’t too worried. I still had my family, my friends, my health and my drive to do something great. It’s like that magnet your mom had on the fridge when you were growing up: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I think that’s what separates the real entrepreneurs, the successful business owners and the doers from the 95%; we aren’t afraid to fail. I hold nothing back, I push forward relentlessly to build something bigger than myself; something I am incredibly passionate about. Your failures should never define you, they’re simply rungs on a ladder you use for a moment before climbing above them. Learn from them, appreciate them for what they are and move on. I’ve used my failures as valuable lessons I can teach my younger brothers, in hopes that one day they’ll grow up to be so much better than me. My job as the Big Bro will be complete, and that makes me smile.
In almost every story of successful entrepreneurs I can think of, failure helped shape them into becoming the resilient, relentless person they later became. I’ll leave you with one of my very favorite quotes that I hope will encourage you to take that step and be the 5% that go for it.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
Until next time,
Release Date: 3.21.19