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Tenacity or Stubornness?

All small business owners need specific traits: good time management skills, ability to work with people, willingness to serve, and tenacity. Of all these traits, tenacity is foundational. Without tenacity, it’s too easy to quit and move onto something easier… something that gives you a regular paycheck and a whole lot less stress. But when does tenacity become stubbornness? Let’s explore…

Tenacity asks, “What is the best choice for my business?” Stubbornness says, “I like this, and since it’s my business I get to decide.”

True confession time. I wanted to name my business The Word Girl. I like to write and love to help clients with their writing. I’m @ncwordgirl on Twitter and Instagram, and I love the PBS cartoon show Word Girl. Thankfully, I had a very wise business advisor through the Indiana Small Business Development Center. Scott Underwood warned me, “Imagine introducing yourself at a business networking group as ‘Word Girl.’ Is that the image you want to portray?”

As difficult as it was to admit, he was right. It took me a while to land on a name, but it was worth the effort and the humility it took to give up the name I wanted at first.

Tenacity says, “Let’s find a team to surround the business so I can focus on the work at hand.” Stubbornness says, “I can do it all.”

The first book I read as I was thinking of starting my business was the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. It was life-changing and saved many headaches. The gist of the book is that you can’t do it all and do it well. I’ve learned that I’m lousy at the financial aspects of my business (I’m a word girl, after all!), so I hire someone to do my financials. I’m not the best designer, so I find freelance designers to help me with projects. I consider these contractors a valuable part of my business. Who can help you navigate an aspect of your business that takes too much of your time?

Tenacity says, “I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my process.” Stubbornness says, “I’ve always done it this way.”

Once every six months or so, I invite someone into an aspect of my work to explore ways to improve processes. This fall, my super-organized friend helped me come up with a way to organize my tasks. It ended up streamlining my billing system and has already saved me hundreds of dollars and hours of time.

Too many small businesses don’t want to let anyone see how they do things and don’t want to hear about ways to improve their process. You don’t want to jeopardize trade secrets, but there are resources available to help you take a hard look at the way you do things. It usually takes someone OUTSIDE of your business to find these process glitches.

Tenacity says “I’m going to give this my very best effort.” Stubbornness says, “I’m not ever giving up.”

Giving your business optimal effort should be a “no-brainer” for the high-achieving small business owner. You want to make sure everything your business does is high-quality, and you do everything you can to enhance your business’s reputation.

But what happens when the market changes? What if the guy who sold paper phone books said, “I’m only selling paper phone books, and I’m never giving up. I’m never bothering to use a computer.” Well, I think we would all know the sad ending to the story. Refusing to give up can kill your business if you’re not willing to adapt to the market.

Tenacity versus stubbornness can be boiled down to this question: Where is your identity? If your identity is completely wrapped up in your business, it’s hard to let go of your own desires and opinions. For the health of your business AND yourself, treat your business like its own entity and do what’s best for the life of your business and the people you serve.

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