It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill. ~ Wilbur Wright
I cannot overstate how important perseverance is when starting and running a business. However, to be truly successful and reap the fruits of your hard work, perseverance must be combined with knowledge.
I just finished reading David McCullough's book about the Wright brothers. Here was Wilbur and Orville -- no college education and only the meager funds they had been able to scrape together from their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. Despite all the reasons they should not have been able to achieve their dream, they successfully flew the first plane in Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903.
The Wright brothers were thorough researchers and innovative. Not only did they develop the mechanisms necessary to control an airplane with a powered engine, but they also developed their own wind tunnel so they could test wing configurations and alternative propeller designs.
As with most progress, much of their work was built on earlier efforts, and it took many iterations and adjustments before they were successful. What was amazing about the Wright brothers is they took such exhaustive notes, we can know now exactly what they experienced then. It is easy to see how much perseverance was required as they struggled to finally build a model that was capable of flying and being controlled in the air.
Even when Orville was injured in an accident while piloting the airplane, they did not give up. Because of their perseverance and knowledge, our lives have been deeply affected.
You may not be inventing an airplane like the Wright brothers, but the same knowledge and perseverance are required to be successful at any
thing. I have helped many new entrepreneurs, and it takes both to make it work. An overabundance of one does not make up for a lack in the other.
For example, one entrepreneur I worked with was starting her own specialty sandwich restaurant. She had the inner perseverance to be great, but had no knowledge of running a business. In fact, she hated everything on the operational side.
This entrepreneur ended up hiring a manager, who was a close friend, to take care of all the managerial and accounting details. As I am sure you have guessed, she failed horribly. She lost more than $500,000 and much of her self-worth. All this could have been avoided had she been willing to learn how to run her business.
Failure is a part of life. Not many of us get by without ever experiencing it. Perseverance is picking yourself up by the bootstraps. That is exactly what the Wright brothers did.
In my own life, as well, I have had my share of failures and close calls. The times when I picked myself up and refused to quit have paid off.
Jerry Osteryoung, a business consultant, is a Jim Moran professor of entrepreneurship (emeritus) and professor of finance (emeritus) at Florida State University. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.