It’s not sexy, it’s not exciting, it’s not flashy; but plain old persistence is a much better indicator of success than skill or technique.
That’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way with years of failed businesses and changed courses.
If you’re like most Genius Types readers, you’re a highly intelligent, creative, entrepreneurial-type with a lot of drive. If you’re anything like me, you want the world, but you don’t have a lot of patience.
You might spend a lot of time scouring the web for money-making ideas. When you find something that sounds interesting, you give it a try.
The Serial Entrepreneur
Maybe you start with network marketing. Hearing stories about how much money could be made put stars in your eyes; but after a few months, you weren’t seeing the results you wanted, so you quit. You tell yourself that it was a scam and look for something else.
Then you decide to give bulk candy vending a go. You throw down several hundred bucks for some machines and some candy and hit the street in search of accounts. After talking to thirty store owners, you only get three locations. You’re making less than $100, so you decide that there’s no money in vending.
Next you try your hand at blogging. You tell yourself, “if that Lee guy can make money at it, why not me?” You set up the blog, slap down some AdSense, sit back, and wait for the money to flow.
When you don’t see any money, you decide to learn some tricks to get some traffic. You write an article, email everyone you know, and ask them to “Digg” it. You get about 10 diggs, but it’s not enough to make the front page.
As your interest wanes, your consistency drops off. You realize that if you’d just put the hours you’d spent on the computer every day into a job, you might have been out of debt already. You quit, thinking: “Those bloggers are just spinning their wheels.”
The cycle continues…
I spent about ten years in a cycle like the one I just described before I realized a very important lesson. My problem wasn’t the techniques I had chosen. (All of them were proven money-makers.) My problem was that I had no persistence. I’d developed a habit of quitting before I got into the real money.
This principle is especially visible when applied to the profitability of entrepreneurial ventures.
In most startups, a massive amount of effort is needed at the beginning while almost no results are showing. As time goes on, the amount of effort needed to maintain the business decreases while profits increase.
Someone who is impatient will quit at about the red line, before any substantive results occur. In their eyes, they had just wasted several months of work. If they had just stuck it out, they would have begun to reap what they had sewn. Instead, they start all over again at the beginning on a new project with an entirely new exponential growth curve.
The monetization of Genius Types is a perfect example. After five months of blogging, I hadn’t surpassed $100 a month in income although I had expended an enormous amount of energy. It would have been extremely easy to quit.
What kept me going was the knowledge that Genius Types was operating under the principle of exponential growth. Isn’t it amazing how the curvature of the actual blog income graph resembles the imaginary exponential growth curve? It’s truly a universal principle.
I earned $152.53 in my sixth month, an $245.41 in my seventh. That’s still not a ton of money to some people; but if you understand exponential growth like I do, it’s pretty exciting.
The principle of exponential growth is similar to the principle of inertia. Imagine your financial situation as a huge iron ball. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to get it to budge. Once it starts, momentum takes over and you get a lot more motion for the amount of energy expended.
Every time you change your mind and decide to change course, you must expend a massive amount of energy all over again to change its direction. A smart entrepreneur who understands this principle will set a course and persist.
Successful leaders are quick to make decisions, but slow to change their minds.
How to Be More Persistent
In order to be persistent, you must be prepared to go a long time without making a profit. Most people jump into entrepreneurship expecting to make money right away without a backup.
It’s important to have an emergency account, savings, or an alternative income source that will carry you through the hard times.
Think With Your Head, Not With Your Emotions
It takes an emotionally strong person to resist the temptation to quit. People around you will question your sanity. You will question your own sanity. But if your plan is sound, you have to keep a cool head.
There are a lot of ways to make money in today’s world. It’s not the technique that counts, it’s your persistence.
In any given entrepreneurial field, a minority of the people make the majority of the money. Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? Take real estate agents for example. In this self-directed profession, 20 percent of the agents make 80 percent of the money. You can substitute any entrepreneurial profession and you’ll get the same phenomenon.
An average person would see this and become discouraged. As an entrepreneur freshly equipped with an understanding of exponential growth, I hope the 80/20 rule excites you. The reason 20 percent of the people make all the money is because 80 percent of the people quit early.