The building blocks of entrepreneurship: Tenacity

I’m often asked what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and I always say that the number one thing you need to have is tenacity. Tenacity is persistence and perseverance. Literally, it’s the quality of being able to grip something firmly without letting go and have the steely determination to stick to your purpose, whatever that may be. Tenacity is the quality that drives you to pursue a goal and follow it through, all the way to its completion.

The life of the entrepreneur is not straightforward, and an individual has to encompass numerous personality traits and qualities to succeed. There has been a resurgence of the entrepreneurial spirit over the last few years and more startup activity than there ever has been, and in this exciting but ultra-competitive landscape, an entrepreneur often has to go against the grain or break the mold to stand out. Sometimes, that means taking traditional business models and turning them on their heads, as well as overcoming difficult obstacles and weathering criticism and objections. Without tenacity, it’s impossible for an entrepreneur to succeed. Tenacity is the reason some people stay the course and others give up and walk away.

But tenacity has to be underpinned by a sense of optimism and self-belief. To be tenacious is also to believe that you can achieve your goals even when the odds are stacked up heavily against you. When I launched my franchise, eight out of the nine people closest to me told me that it wouldn’t work, but I believed in myself and in my goal, and I was tenacious in my approach. I knew it could work, and it did. Without being optimistic or having faith in yourself to be willing and able to do what you need to do to get the result you want, you can’t have tenacity. In a competitive business world, where there are hundreds or even thousands of other people who want exactly what you want, you need to know in your heart that you can succeed.

But tenacious people don’t always succeed and sometimes, failure is unavoidable. But tenacity does define how you react. Great people throughout history, from the American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart to the French chemist Louis Pasteur to the British statesman Sir Winston Churchill have held tenacity up as the highest virtue in their journey towards success. Churchill’s saying, never give in, never give in, never, never, never is better advice for entrepreneurs than they might think at first.

The very best entrepreneurs have many qualities, like passion, motivation and self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. But without tenacity, all those other qualities no longer matter, because without tenacity, you cannot move forward boldly towards your goal withstanding criticism, overcoming obstacles and enduring setbacks. Tenacity is absolutely vital to success. After all, luck, said the writer Elbert Hubbard, is just tenacity of purpose.