If I had a dollar for every time someone told me my business wouldn’t work, or the vision was too big and too disruptive I would have never needed to sell any equity.
A couple of years on and five million dollars worth of pre-revenue fintech fundraising later, and we’re doing great.
The secret? Grit. This is the fuel that will power your vision to reality. It will be your best friend when you need support, and enable you to remain standing when events and people try to suck your confidence and self-belief. Grit is the shield and the sword, and your best companion when facing adversity.
Do you have grit? 100% you do. Some of you will have huge obvious grit, some of you will have quiet polite grit, but grit nonetheless. So use it, wield it, grow it, trust it - it will get you through.
The most worthwhile thing I can share with you is to embrace the grit and weather the storm by being your most authentic self. I have ridden the sand dunes of my own grit to get the job done. Sometimes it was ugly, mostly it was uncomfortable, and at times I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face due to the sandstorm, but this is what it means to be an entrepreneur. Here’s what grit looks like.
ONE: Back yourself
It’s super easy to say but much harder to do when you think everyone in the room knows more than you. But here’s something to remember, they bloody well don’t. Some are wondering what’s for lunch, some are wondering if their husband picked up junior from school. Some are dreaming about their year-end bonus based on KPI’s set by someone they may speak with twice a year. Guess what? YOU know more about what you are talking about than ANYONE else in the room, so own it.
I still remember when an ‘advisor’ told me not to waste money investing in IP because it would slow development down. I thanked him for his time, left the building, and promptly invested in patents which are now granted in NZ and the USA. These patents have allowed me to raise money at an appropriate valuation and provide the pathway for my business to become a significant part of the global fintech market.
TWO: Recognise your bravery
It is okay to be different. Now, a personal favourite of mine here. You already are different in the sense that you are an entrepreneur. Hardly ANYONE has the guts, drive and determination to do that job. Goodbye regular salary, safety and security. You have no one else to blame if things don’t go as planned. You are the epitome of bravery and don’t ever forget it. But asides from recognizing that bravery, be prepared that some folks won’t like you, some will love you. At the end of the day, you need to be true to yourself – that’s who you have to live with.
THREE: Have confidence
Confidence comes from selling and selling and selling some more. The more you sell - the more you learn. A few years ago, when I was pitching for funding from a bank that holds an investment fund to support tech start-ups supplying the NZ Government, they told me I would never get the merchants to agree to integrations. They were wrong.
I now have 80% of the merchant market, including a major grocery chain and rideshare app. Eventually, you will get to a place deep in your soul where you just know. You know you’re good enough and so is your business - this is where calmness lives. This is where the confidence will be very obvious to those around you. Part of being an entrepreneur means that you will always find a way and get it done. It may not always be perfect, done is done and when is anything ever perfect?
FOUR: Be resilient
Be prepared for some bruising, tears, anger and fear. These are the unavoidable consequences of driving change. The secret is that the more you’re knocked the more resilient you become. So if you are currently taking a hit, take a breath, stay calm. Put down whatever it is you are working on that’s causing the problem. Pick it up from a different angle. There is always more than one way to skin a cat - find it.
FIVE: Harness your passion
Passion is the fuel for the soul – there’s no question about it. Harness your drive, your determination and your love for what you do to deliver your vision to the world. Passion is what makes you hold on by your fingernails, make something from nothing and pull a whole team along on your journey.
When the world has toppled off its axis, there’s no time like the present to highlight, support and celebrate the folks with grit. Those brave entrepreneurs who know how to keep calm, how to deliver something with nothing, and have the vision and passion for us to live in a better world.