Sometimes being bullheaded may be the single best factor in the success of a small business. Maybe bullheaded is not the right word, because I'm not talking about blindly pushing forward regardless of all obstacles. But I am talking about something that was once described to me in the wonderfully colorful phrase "stick-to-it-iveness."
These are all just different ways to describe a trait of successful business owners of not giving up when faced with new challenges. Those challenges may be as simple as rising costs or changing markets, but if you melt at even those bumps in the road, your business will never move forward.
Of course, some obstacles are of truly spectacular proportions and would be likely to stop almost any normal shop owner in his tracks. When Todd Spriggins lost his New Orleans shop to Hurricane Katrina, that was just such an event. Water levels 3 to 6 feet high inundated the building and made a jumbled rusty mess of most of his machinery. With no flood insurance there was not much available to recoup the loss.
He relocated to Houston and landed a good position working in someone else's shop, eventually rising to foreman in the operation. His own shop obliterated, but having found a good new job in a place that his family liked, most shop owners would easily settle into the new life. But not Spriggins. He longed to revive his shop and join the efforts to help rebuild his beloved native city. Now the real challenges would begin.
Months of battles with bureaucracy over "emergency" loan funding failed to provide the help he needed. Not to be denied, he developed private funding sources and relaunched his business. He even changed the nature of manufacturing and the kind of work he did to take advantage of the circumstances.
So, besides relaunching a business, he had to learn a whole new way of working.
Few shop owners would have this kind of resilience and dedication to reviving their business, and Spriggins should be justly lauded for his acumen and his drive. But all shop owners should pause for at least a moment and compare their daily trials and tribulations to the obstacles this one man faced. Think what just a little more "stick-to-it-iveness" could do to move you forward. Rather than beating your head again and again against the same wall, try going around by a different route, as Spriggins did with financing. But don't be bullheaded, either. Consider alternatives and new ways of working, just as Spriggins did. Being resilient as a business is owner is about being dedicated to the success of your business without being chained to a long list of rigid ways of doing business.
If you truly want to succeed, you can find a way. Todd Spriggins did.
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