Not just business savvy: The role of persistence in entrepreneurship

What's the secret sauce to entrepreneurial success? An Ivy League MBA? A Rolodex bursting with A-list contacts? An uncanny ability to forecast market trends?

While these can undoubtedly make a difference, I'd wager that for many, like myself, the answer is simpler yet profound: persistence.

Recently, while on a walk with my parents, my father casually highlighted this virtue of mine. "You're persistent," he remarked, pride evident in his voice. That statement took me by surprise. But as I pondered, I realized that this seemingly pedestrian quality has been instrumental in navigating the unpredictable waters of business since I began running my first company in 2007.

Persistent in leadership. Persistent in reinvesting. Persistent in sales. Persistent in acknowledging my shortcomings. Persistent in looking for gaps in the business and diligently working to bridge them.

This trait isn't unique to me. My business partner, Jim Myers, exemplifies it as well. He's always on the lookout for the next opportunity for our agency, dedicating time and effort to transform these opportunities into reality. On reflection, this relentless drive is a core value of our entire agency.

Of course we are persistent on our client's behalf. Working to do what is right by them can sometimes be repetitive, but it requires doggedness and ongoing commitment to their success. And if I look back over the years to today, the team at Simon/Myers has always pursued our growth and what is best for the agency.

From the outside this blind faith and continual passion for improvement may seem foolhardy. It is bold to assume that we can continue to grow and work through the challenges the world throws at us. But we just don't know any other way. Pandemic, social unrest, political unrest, The Great Resignation, two recessions, why not just give up?

However, being persistent does not mean going blindly down a path or sticking to a strategy that clearly isn't working. Calculating risk associated with decisions is always part of our approach.

At times this attribute can seem contradictory. That is because trying new things, holding nothing sacred, is a key to success too. That means reinventing the agency when the market needs change and potentially doing it again in a few years. Can this ongoing dedication to sustained success be tiring? Absolutely. Is it exhilarating? Absolutely.

Doing the right things, the hard things, sometimes mundane things, every single day - that's persistence. Success in business, much like life, isn't typically about one grand gesture or stroke of genius, it is about consistently doing what needs to be done.

Yet, while persistence has been my guiding light, it's crucial for every entrepreneur to recognize their unique strength or "secret sauce." What works for one might not work for another. Whether it's an empathetic approach, analytical prowess, or intuitive decision-making, finding and harnessing that individual trait can be transformative.

So as you tread the entrepreneurial path, remember two things: be persistent in your pursuits, and take the time to identify and leverage your own unique strength. Because when combined, these elements can be the game-changers in your journey to success.

• Lou Simon is the Principal/Founder of Simon/Myers, a marketing agency with offices in Wheaton and Chicago.

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