Hard work, opportunity and luck are all components of entrepreneurial and career success, but perseverance is essential.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about perseverance and what it looks like in this season of my career. When I was in my former 9-to-5 as a news anchor, persevering through hardship or challenges felt different than it does today as an entrepreneur. As an employee, when things go wrong or an obstacle frustrates you on a project or something you’re trying to create, that paycheck is likely still on its way to you and therefore supports your career journey to figuring it out—at least, for the most part.
By contrast, persevering as an entrepreneur can feel ruthless at times. Like the entirety of your identity, career, and your money are attached to your business working out, so you have no choice but to push through. But this mode of thought doesn’t serve us; it actually terrifies and exhausts me just thinking about it.
In search of a new way of looking at persevering through frustrating times in your career, whether as an employee or on your own, I chatted with Clutch co-founders Madison Long and Simone May, two young Black entrepreneurs who know what it’s like to keep going even when the road ahead is bumpy or unclear. Together, the two friends launched the digital marketplace that connects the next generation of creators with emerging brands, recently raising $1.2M in pre-seed funding to fuel its open beta launch.
I knew there was a story behind their growing success and that their journey thus far has required perseverance to get Clutch to this phase of funding. Here’s what I found: Even from the start, the two didn’t put a whole lot of pressure on themselves to have all the answers, and that set the tone for their ongoing entrepreneurial journey.
“I think sometimes when people think of an idea, they think they have to have everything figured out all at once,” said May. “We started with a Google Doc. I don’t think people realize it was a brain dump of where this can go, what we wanted to do and what we needed to do in order to keep moving forward. That stepping stone sounds way less official than going out and getting your own LLC or hiring somebody or putting a budget together. Don’t do any of that. Just focus on what your actual goal is and what the idea is, and just keep building on it,” she added.
Co-founder Long’s perspective on perseverance comes from her background in cross country running. She heard the term growing up a lot as an athlete; now, she takes that mindset into the business world.
“When you take the concept of doing a long distance run, there’s so many moments—and even extended periods of pain, of fatigue and of being completely on a lonely island—where maybe you’re in the back of the woods doing a run and no one can see you. And yet, you still know you need to keep up the pace,” Long explained. “You need to put one step in front of the other and the integrity of which you’re putting in the work. You have to believe that at the end of the race, it will all have been worth it. And I think there’s a lot of parallels to my founder journey.”
I get it—and see why these brilliant young ladies made it out of the thousands of ideas and concepts floated and into the actual world of venture capital. They have that certain something that will see an idea through all the way to the finish line. I may not share her athletic background, but I’ll remember the picture Long painted about the runner in the woods when I want to throw in the towel. Understanding how these two persevered, I can approach each step forward in my own career goals with a stronger sense of integrity and grace. You can, too.
For more of my conversation with Madison and Simone, watch this week’s episode of “The Reset with Coach Tish” above.
Letisha Bereola is a life coach who helps ambitious women overcome burnout and reach their career goals so they feel great at work and happy at home. She’s a former Emmy-nominated TV news anchor, Podcast host of AUDACITY and speaker. Learn more: www.coachtish.co.
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