While interviewing small-business owners and experts for my action guide, Birthing the Elephant: The woman’s go-for-it! guide to overcoming the big challenges of launching a business, I learned a lot about passion, persistence, and panache. Time and again, I’ve been struck by the many qualities, from self-reliance to resilience, that successful small-business owners and writers have in common.
We can learn a lot from entrepreneurs when it comes to how to pursue our dreams and goals in the face of unexpected challenges and unwelcome setbacks. Consider this Q&A with Pandora’s Tim Westergren in Success magazine:
Q: What’s one of the essential characteristics of a small-business owner?
A: “To me, entrepreneurship is at its core about creativity. It grows out of the ability to think of a brand-new idea or to look at a problem from a different angle.”
As writers, creativity is the key to our kingdom. Sometimes it flows from a “brand-new idea” and sometimes from exploring a timeless and universal issue or theme in a fresh and exciting way.
Q: Aside from a lack of leadership, what are some other reasons people fail at business?
A: “I think the primary causes of failure are lack of tenacity, inability to adapt to change and a fear of failure itself.”
For us as writers, lack of tenacity, lack of adaptability, and fear of failure are probably just effective at sabotaging our success as they are for small businesses. That’s why cultivating our resiliency and persistence; being open to new ideas and to the need to re-envision our work during the revision stage; and loosening up our fear of failure are so important to improving our craft and performance.
Q: What is one of the most memorable mistakes you’ve made?
A: “Perhaps the most important one was underestimating the time required to develop an idea and a company, which leads to an over-focus on a goal rather than a greater emphasis on process and sustainability. It definitely increases the risk of burnout. It’s not a sprint.”
As writers, giving our craft and our stories time to ripen is a major challenges . And yet, if we focus too heavily on the finish line — if we think we’re in a sprint, not a marathon — we, too, run the risk of burnout. But when we stay attuned to “process and sustainability” — to our writing process and to making steady progress on our writing path — we can summon up the energy and drive to keep going.
So let’s take a leaf from the small-business playbook — and write on.