How Lack of Persistence Fuels Failure

Businesses fail all the time.  How many fail through lack of persistence?

My father was self-employed as a sheet metal worker for about 30 years.  My goodness, he could have given up a thousand times over.  It was always difficult.  Not only did he have to find work (and that became progressively more difficult) but he also had to get his customers to pay.  The problem was everyone was waiting for the next person to pay.  As money entered the chain, it passed down the line.  There was no point in taking someone to court.  They would be made bankrupt and no-one would be paid.  The real problem was end-creditors such as the Inland Revenue. 

Neither Conservative nor Labour governments favoured small business owners.  My father, a life-long socialist, was the boss. When it came to disputes, he had no union to bat for him.

And yet he paid his way.  Brought up a family; I don’t remember wanting for anything.  He paid for my sister’s and my university education.  In the end ill-health defeated him.

What kept my father going?  He enjoyed his work and valued his independence.  He solved problems by creating solutions out of steel.


Once you decide what your business is, it is important to be consistent.  You may be bored, your family may be bored, your employees may bored, your customers may be bored – it doesn’t matter, keep on keeping on – that is until your accountant (if you have one) gets excited and tells you it isn’t working.

Marketing and sales is a slog.  It is a necessary slog.  Unless you are a very peculiar person, marketing and sales are nowhere near as exciting as delivering whatever you deliver.  But if you give up, you have nothing to deliver.

When you start you’re not ready.  When you’re ready, your market is not ready – it all takes ages to get right.  In the meantime, you see other business owners motoring past with loads of work.  Don’t think for a moment they don’t have their own problems! 


Most things don’t work.  Finding something that does work and provides a reliable income takes time. It’s frustrating and there are no guarantees.

Patience is a virtue.  Those who stick with it are more likely to succeed than those who do not.  Even the most successful entrepreneurs had their wilderness years. 

How do businesses keep going?  It isn’t for the money.  They keep going because they enjoy what they do, can see the benefits they bring to others, create a body of work.  Business is an opportunity to try out new stuff and create something new. 

Promises of Great Wealth

Don’t listen to the stories of undreamed of wealth.  Yes it works out that way for some.  For most successful businesses its skin of the teeth, bringing up a family and getting through university before everything stalls.

We can’t all be millionaires and that is why we should steer clear of the big promises.  Remember the Pareto principle?  It means 20% of the market holds 80% of the wealth.  Yeah, you could be in the top 20%, you have a 1 in 5 chance. 

But there is room in the middle to make a niche that generates the income you need.  High end clients are not difficult to find and if you do, your niche can be comfortable.

Many who make large sums find they are not satisfied, for satisfaction is in the work.  What balance between work and income works for you?  If you’re not happy, you will find the money does not compensate.  So hold out for what is of value.

If you do that, you position yourself in a niche that works for you, with customers who appreciate what you distinctly offer.

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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