Perseverance Can Overcome Almost Any Obstacle

By Bruce Freeman
The Small Business Professor.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
-Robert Collier

Q: What personal qualities does a successful entrepreneur need?

A: What are the essential ingredients of an entrepreneurial spirit? In my view, the most important is perseverance. Exhibit A: my own path to business ownership. I have managed a public relations agency, written this syndicated small-business column for nine years, co-authored a book, and I’m discussing a second book with publishers. I was also recently cited among the “50 business professors most followed on Twitter.”

Not a bad track record, considering my writing skills were never grade A in college. In fact, they earned me a D in my freshman writing class. Whenever I handed in a paper, it returned with more red ink than black after the professor graded it. He asked me to come to his office half a dozen times and worked with me. On my last visit, he announced I was still getting a D.

In 2006, I received a “journalist of the year award” from the U.S. Small Business Administration and worked on an article for the alumni director from my alma matter. I told my writing class story. It was more than 30 years later, but I sent my former professor a note saying he deserved some of the credit for my entrepreneurial rise. He said the success was all mine; all he did was give me a few pointers.

When my book, “Birthing the Elephant” appeared, my former freshman professor sent this email: “Dear Bruce: Congratulations on the publication of your new book. Had you given this to me during the manuscript stage, I would have been happy to do some free editing.” I responded with a hearty laugh: “Free editing? I was not going to chance a D on my first book!”

Subsequently, I chaired an entrepreneurship panel at an alumni event, where my former professor gave a speech. We had breakfast and I was absolutely thrilled to see him. Later, another email arrived: “Dear Bruce … It was a pleasure seeing you and your wife at homecoming. I would not have missed the opportunity. The story of the ‘D’ is not only funny; it is inspiring. It proves that perseverance can overcome almost any obstacle.”

I totally agree, and that’s why I’ve used it as a case in point: Perseverance pays!
Nationally known as the Small Business Professor, Bruce Freeman is president of ProLine Communications. He is adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Seton Hall and Kean universities.

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