By Bruce Freeman
The Small Business Professor.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
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!
ABOUT THE WRITER
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.