How to Build a Successful Business from Nothing but Pure Grit

Gillian Sisley

Here are the tools and instruments you’ll need to make it happen for yourself — if you’re willing to employ them.

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Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

I was working through my notifications, and came across a question asked on my recent article, “The Importance of ‘Paying One’s Dues’ Is Fiercely Underrated”.

I really enjoyed this question, as I had never written a piece on this topic before. Maybe my insights help someone else?

Melissa Toldy asked:

“I’d be interested to read your thoughts on what keeps you motivated and what gives you foresight to plan ahead. Do you think you have innate ambition or do you think your experiences so far have bolstered your commitment to success?

This is a fantastic question and really got me thinking. The following was inspired by the response I gave Melissa to that very question.

I come from great, supportive roots.

I was raised by an incredible pair of parents who taught me to be gritty from a young age.

They encouraged me to be curious, and try plenty when I was younger. I tried to dance, joined a variety of art classes, played sports, played several different instruments, you name it.

Unsurprisingly, there were some things I tried that I really didn’t like early in.

That said, they never let me quit something until I’d seen it through.

So even with the tough stuff, or things I didn’t find interesting, I never got an easy out. I had to stick it out, make the best of it, and honour my commitment.

I faced my fair share of failure early in life —

These days I welcome failure because it means I can move on quickly to the next, possibly successful, thing.

But I certainly struggled through school a lot, with math in particular.

Those many years took a massive toll on my self-esteem and self-worth. Especially as my brother was naturally gifted and never studied for anything, yet and still got straight As.

Meanwhile, I studied my a** off and was lucky to get a C in math.

But I took every pass I could get, swallowed the little failures along the way, and applied myself in the areas of life that I really thrived in and enjoyed.

I challenged myself beyond what I thought I was capable of.

Going to university, and then working on an advanced diploma in public relations, really sealed the deal for me.

Those 5 years unlocked a grit in me I didn’t know I had, and pushed me further beyond my limit, moreso than I’d ever been pushed.

And although those years were tough, I worked and showed up, and surprisingly survived with really great grades.

It was shortly after graduating that I felt ballsy enough to attempt to start my own business.

It was brave and risky, and more people thought I was nuts.

But there was a part of me that said,

“You’ve been through more difficult obstacles than this — just keep going and you’ll find a way to make it happen.”

Starting my business ended up being even MORE work than school, which I didn’t think was possible, but was the reality!

I still didn’t let that stop me from still pushing forward.

I knew from past experience that every time I think I’ve reached my limit, there’s a little more than that I can give, and I push on forward.

And so I did. And that’s how I’m here today.

This was my toolbox of skills that carried me from freshly new grad to successful entrepreneur at 22-years-old.

All of this is to say, getting to where I am now took several key things:

#1: Being open to a lot of falling and failure, and refusing to stay down.

Failure is bound to happen — it’s just part of life.

But what will set successful people apart from others is that they’ve grown a thick skin and won’t stay down long. Every failure in life carries a lesson. To be successful in any business, you need to get used to this failure thing — it will happen a lot.

Get used to falling your face. Take that as an indication that you need to change or tweak something, and move on to your next best idea. After enough failure and tweaking, you’ll find that thing that ends up being a success.

But you’ve got to stick around long enough to actually see that success come to fruition.

#2: A willingness to put the work in, and work harder than other people expect you to.

Because this meant that the harder I worked, the faster I would find the opportunity that would help me achieve my goals.

I noticed, early on, that the prospect of starting my own business was very scary for other people, in particular. And those people would actively project their fear and anxiety on me, trying to convince me I was doomed to fail.

If I had actually listened to them, I wouldn’t have to where I am today.

A lot of the time, I had to listen to me and only me, because no one else was going to work as hard for my dream as I was.

#3: Wanting what you’re striving towards hard enough.

If you only kind of want something, it will be easy to give up on it.

But if you really, really want something, whether that’s being your own boss or writing a novel, or whatever, you show up every day, even on the bad days, and you do the work.

Every little bit of forward motion counts in the journey to reaching your goals, no matter how small.

And finally, my most important tool:

#4: Being gracious with yourself.

This has been, and will always be my golden rule.

That never means giving yourself permission to find an excuse (there will always be one to find!), but instead being kind to yourself when you are too quick to beat yourself up for not working hard enough or not getting somewhere fast enough.

As long as I am always doing something towards my bigger goal, I‘m’ proud of myself. And sometimes, that something I needed to do was rest because I was about to burn out.

I kept my weekends sacred while building my business and always made sure to get enough sleep to recharge my body.

Some would say that sleeping in until noon as an entrepreneur is irresponsible — but if I needed the rest, I let my body have it.

Final word.

Every person’s journey is unique — so my toolbox will certainly look different from another entrepreneur’s.

The key is figuring out what your best tools are to move hustle forward and make sh*t happen for yourself.

Be open to the obstacles and the setbacks, and failures, because they’re all indications that you need to change something, or else you’re not going to get where you want to be.

But all in all, ensure you’re being kind to yourself. Nothing productive can ever get done when the head of the operation is burnt out and frustrated.

I hope this has been helpful — good luck on your business and solopreneur ventures!

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Online solopreneur. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. I write about trending news, viral Reddit content, and anything else that tickles my fancy.

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