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The Grind: 7 Characteristics People Who Start Their Own Businesses All Share

I know nothing.

As simple as it is, the phrase above has changed my life. With it, I have learned to accept feedback in every form it occurs, whether it's the pavement telling my face I was riding my skateboard too fast, or my failed business telling me I didn't know anything about marketing.

The first reality check I ever hit was when I was in college trying to network to land a good internship.

I asked someone I knew whom I hadn't spoken to in years, who had an excellent position in the financial industry, to help me out. He sent me an email informing me of how poor my networking skills were and that he deserved more than a simple email asking for help.

After that email, I worked like a crazy person trying to perfect my networking skills and to make sure I would never experience an embarrassing situation like that again. My next lessons wouldn't come as easy as a simple rejection; they would be much harder.

Through them, I learned to accept every fall with the auto-reflex to identify my mistake, correct it and then make sure it would never happen again.

Coincidentally, at the same time I received that email, I was also becoming very interested in the high growth potential of startups. However, each startup I joined ended up failing.

I could see myself as a failure after five startups and no success, but I knew that wasn't who I really was. I perceive what I've learned about business and marketing to be invaluable. I feel more comfortable than ever making bold decisions when it comes to executing or evaluating ideas.

One of the next reality checks I received was from Scott Case, cofounder of Priceline. I had a meeting with him after using my new and improved networking skills to reach out and get a hold of him. That same week, I had just moved up to Silicon Valley to work at a new company.

I told Scott about the idea my new company was working on, about my marketing experience and what I thought about my ability to make my company's product successful.

He told me I didn't have a clue of what I needed to do, that my company's idea wasn't innovative, and in its current form, it wouldn't be successful.

Life was coming at me quick; I moved up to San Francisco to work for this company, and the next thing I knew, the cofounder of Priceline was telling me I didn't know anything about business.

Even though he was blunt and the criticism was harsh, he was right. This reality check told me two things: 1) Read as many business and marketing books as you can, and 2) apply your knowledge and take more risks to learn faster.

I owe everything to my biggest critics. They are the ones who enabled me to reflect upon myself and take the steps I needed to improve. By making myself vulnerable through risking failure, I learned faster than I ever thought I would.

If you want to understand what it takes to fail faster so you can dramatically increase the rate at which you learn and the probability you will come up with the next great idea, these are the seven characteristics you need:

1. Enthusiasm

You have to stay optimistic in order to rebound quickly from failure. Moreover, when you're selling yourself, a product or service, you must be confident about it.

You know that failure is part of the chase when trying to complete lofty goals, and there's no point in letting positive energy fall to the wayside. You're on Earth to make a difference, so act like it.


2. Purpose

There's great purpose in everything you do, as long as it's with good intentions. Even if it doesn't work out, you know there's a reason, and more importantly, it gives you the chance to find out why, so next time, you won't repeat the same mistake.


3. Determination

The phrase “giving up” is not something to which you appeal. You have a strong desire to push forward, no matter what obstacles are in your way, and you work like an animal to produce results.

You continue to hit your limits to see how far they can expand because, if you're a dedicated learner, your results should always be improving with each new project.


4. Happiness

Finding out what makes you happy is more important to you than making money. You understand that chasing a life of happiness parallels a life of success.

If you don't live your life being happy, then the only thing you're giving back to the world is negativity. Staying positive about outcomes is one of the best ways to not let repeatedly failing affect you too much emotionally.


5. Listen

The only way you can improve is to listen to criticism and to take an in-depth, personal look into every failure you have. When you listen, you have to let your ego go, and put your ears on drive.

Understanding what mistakes you made and why you made them is the only way to improve, and the best way to do that sometimes is just to shut up, observe and listen.


6. Independence

It's hard to fail over and over again if you're not independent. If there are people counting on you to succeed because you support them financially, whether it be friends or family, you become pressured to find something stable, instead of fast-tracking your progress through failures.

Being low maintenance and not requiring too much to adapt to new situations is a big asset when overcoming hurdles, defeat and even mental or physical breakdowns.


7. Trust

The final and, by far, most important characteristic you need in order to achieve success is trust. Whether it's trusting in yourself that you can one day be incredibly successful, no matter how many times you fail, or trusting in the talent of the team around you to execute an idea.

Remember, without believing in yourself, you have nothing. If you continue to trust that one day you will come out on top, you won't be surprised when you do.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It

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Joshua Fechter

Contributor

Josh is a startup junkie and life enthusiast. He graduated from SDSU with a dual major in Economics and Political Science. He takes pride in his ability to find innovative ways to grow business networks and brand small companies.
Josh is a startup junkie and life enthusiast. He graduated from SDSU with a dual major in Economics and Political Science. He takes pride in his ability to find innovative ways to grow business networks and brand small companies.

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