If you are an Entrepreneur at any level, these two words are crucial to growing your business. These two words separate the people who are willing to do what it takes to pursue their passions and their dreams, from those who aren't, no matter the difficulty.  These two words are what make entrepreneurs successful!  

This article is in response to a Facebook post in the AAE Glass Education Facebook group of over 6,000 glass artists, dated March 6th.  Michelle asked, "What is the number one hurdle you feel you face when trying to take your business to the next level?"  She received two dozen comments right out of the gate from artists sharing their growing pains as well as those offering their experiences and trying to help these artists address particular issues. That's what makes this group so great.  The willingness to help each other!  There were numerous comments from all over the map and I will touch on them more specifically in future articles.  

For now, I would like to set a tone for what it takes to start and grow a successful small business. There is a certain mindset needed to be able to address all aspects of owning and operating a small business.  I know most of you are doing it all by yourselves and that isn't easy...But it is possible!  I am by no means an expert in this area and I'm sure many people know more than I when it comes to teaching this subject.  What I can offer is real life experience in building a small business, both good and bad.  I can tell you that not everything you learn in business school applies to building a small business.  I can tell you that I will never be fully prepared for every twist and turn that will be thrown my way.  I can tell you that you need to be relentless when growing your small business and you need to persevere through any hurdles that come along.  I don't want to sound harsh, but an unwillingness to devote the time and effort needed to be successful will result in failure.  Without being relentless and persevering through tough times, you will not be able to reach the next level (which will undoubtedly bring more tough times, but more good ones as well).  Anyone who makes the leap into owning a small business needs to understand that no one cares if you are tired, under paid or under appreciated. These are the sacrifices we all have made in order to grow our businesses and do what we love.  These are no small things.    

There is no doubt you will have good days and bad days while you are growing your business. These fluctuations will never end, and the swings from one end of the spectrum to the other can come fast and furious.  Be prepared to adapt and don't dwell on the negatives.  To that same point, don't let a successful day go to your head and allow you to lose your edge.  The goal is to maintain a reasonable attitude towards both the good and bad and realize that with proper attention to detail and positive work ethic, you can get through anything.  The more you prove this to yourself, the more obstacles you will overcome. 

Think about how much goes into starting a business.  Think about all of the obstacles that await small business owners.  Think about the long hours small business owners dedicate to growing their business.  Seems overwhelming doesn't it?  Now think about all of your friends, family members and acquaintances who have said in passing, "I wish I could just work for myself"  or "I have a great idea, I should start a business."  How many of those people have actually taken steps to do so?  How many of the people who make such comments actually have the willingness to sacrifice and the drive to start a business?  The answer is slim to none.  

The definition of perseverance is to persist in a state, enterprise or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition or discouragement.  In other words, keep going no matter what stands in your way, good or bad.  The definition of relentless is showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength or pace.  In other words, work hard everyday to grow your business in any way you can and never give up!  If something doesn't work, try something else. 

I want to sincerely congratulate every person reading this who has started a small business.  You have done what most people choose not to do.  You have stood in the face of hard work, obstacles and uncertainty and decided you are going to succeed anyway.  No matter what it takes, you are going to take your business to the next level.  You have made a conscious decision to do what it takes to carve out your niche in this beautiful world of ours, no matter the sacrifice.  

For anyone looking to start a small business, I don't want this article to discourage you.  At the same time, I don't want to write only about the positives, without touching on the tough parts either.  Anyone who tells you starting a business is easy, or anyone can do it, has little to no experience on the subject.  The first step is the hardest, but if you are honest with yourself, there is no reason you can't be successful.  Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are up for the challenge.  Are you willing to make sacrifices in order to be successful?  You would be surprised how well people react in the face of adversity when they are prepared. We have worked with several artists over the years who have made the leap from a 9 to 5 job to opening their own small businesses. It is great to see.

Starting a small business is obviously not easy.  That's why most people just talk about it without ever doing it. They are unwilling to do what it takes.  For those people willing to do what it takes, the sky is the limit and they deserve all the respect in the world and everything their hard work brings.  

I look forward to sharing more thoughts and experiences on various business related subjects in the future such as; reaching new customers, working efficiently, staying motivated during creative blocks, staying focused on the task at hand and much more.  

Until then...