Being an entrepreneur is no easy task. In fact it is not at all comparable to a task. Entrepreneurship is a characteristic so ingrained that it is an inescapable way of life; a calling that is not sought after, but has chosen you. That being said, the path to prosperity is neither easy nor sure and requires specific qualities.
If you browse around for the best qualities of an entrepreneur, you will find plenty and certainly they each have merit. However, I would like to focus on only one of the many--failure--or that is to say, the drive to continue after experiencing failure. The big breakthroughs almost explicitly come about on the coat tails of failure.
To better illustrate this attribute I will focus on three mega entrepreneurs: Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs.
Sir Richard Branson "There is a very thin line between success and failure"
In the early days at Virgin Group, Branson came home on a Friday to find the bank manager seated on his door step with the ultimatum of getting the overdraft facility down to a proper level else Virgin Group would be closed down on Monday. They had to scrap money together to make this happen and subsequently found a new bank the following week.
Don't let an impending event, as unfortuitous as it may seem, stop you in your tracks. You must press forward with all that you have to assure survival of the business.
Elon Musk "That was a stressful time I have to say"
SpaceX's first three launches failed. Musk had only budgeted for three launches. With no money and no options, they persevered attempting a fourth launch. They were barely able to scrape together enough money to launch in late 2008 amid the financial crisis. If this attempt did not work, the company was done for and SpaceX would not be around today. Fortunately for the world and space enthusiasts, SpaceX did succeed. Within this same time period, Musk's other venture, Tesla, was attempting to raise money, but due to the financial crisis the financing round fell apart. Again, fortunately for Musk and Tesla, financing was achieved on December 24, 2008--the last possible day to achieve financing else the company would have gone bankrupt.
Plan for your business. You will fail at something sometime in the future, so don't take things for granted and be aware of any potential pitfalls and plan for them.
Steve Jobs "Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did."
Jobs and Wozniak started Apple Computer in a garage in Los Altos, California. Some nine years later, after much growth and success, Steve Jobs was fired in 1985 from the company that he had formed. He built another company, NeXT, which flopped as a stand alone company yet served as training grounds for Jobs to better cultivate his business savvy and let loose his creativity. Apple bought NeXT in 1997--the fertile ground from which today's Mac software sprouted.
"I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life."
Hindsight can teach us a lot about our failures. It is often through the refining fire of failure that entrepreneurs must pass before truly being successful.
Failure is natural and necessary for success in business. The most basic example is a toddler who is learning to walk. The child will fall down hundreds of times. It will hurt, be embarrassing, take time and effort, require increased muscle control and above all, focus. But, the few weeks or months of failures will eventually yield to success, which translates into a life of opportunities. If the child were to give up after the first few attempts it would be doomed to a life of groveling on scared elbows and knees--never reaching its intended potential.
In summary don't be afraid to fail, plan for any future pitfalls, and enjoy the learnings that follow each.