I’ve met a lot of famous musicians when I was younger. At the end of every concert I attended, I would normally stalk around the back entrance of the venue or hang out near their buses and just wait.
It started as, “What do I have to lose?” And then it slowly evolved into, “If I will it, I will make this happen.” I left concerts with great stories about how I got an autograph. That’s why it was fun to take me to a show. I always figured out a way to meet the band.
About 10 years ago, Metallica came to Austin to play a “secret” show at SXSW. (It totally wasn’t a secret by the way. EVERYONE knew about it.) You had to be one of the few to show up early enough to get in. I totally thought, “If I will it, I will make this happen.”
You know what? It didn’t happen. I stood at the door to the venue going through a mental Rolodex of who to call or what to do. I kept coming up blank. I got just arrived there too late. I missed the opportunity. It was a completely deflating experience. It didn’t occur to me that there was a possibility that I wouldn’t get in until the moment it didn’t happen.
80% of success is showing up – Woody Allen
Boy did that quote make sense now.
The New 80/20 Rule for Business Owners
In small business ownership, just showing up doesn’t cut it however. I think, in the case of small business ownership, you need 80% stubborn naivety and 20% opportunity/timing to be successful.
If I knew half of what I know now about owning and running a small business, I probably would have just settled for a traditional job instead. Not that I would have listened if someone warned me, however. Hard-headedness and blind ambition go a long way in the make-up of a successful business owner.
I’ve had more stress, more tears, made less money, and sacrificed more of my personal life owning a small business that I ever would have working for someone else. However, when you’re so strong-willed that you can’t stand the idea of failing, like me, you trek through the drudgery until you figure it out.
Word of Caution: Be Stubborn, but Be Coachable
A word of advice however to all the stubborn and blind: you can’t do it alone. It only took a few hard hits for me to realize that I needed help from the outside. I still, to this day, rely on a circle of friends, mentors, business coaches and other business owners to figure out what the hell I’m doing every day.
Based on my previous experience, I had that stubborn naivety in spades. What I needed to learn from others was how to be more aware of the timing and how to take advantage of opportunities.
Only 50% of small businesses make it to the five-year mark. I guarantee you that the owners of those six-plus-year-old businesses are stubborn as hell but they’re coachable and always learning.
Would I start another small business in my lifetime? You know what? I probably would. I’m just delusional enough to think I know what I’m doing now.