Small Business Owners: Never Give Up!

Posted by Stephanie Valentine on November 17, 2009 in Small Business Leadership |

With the current business environment, small business owners are definitely struggling and “giving up” may start to look like a better and better option. While only you can decide when enough is enough, I heartily encourage you to consider staying in the game as long as possible.

For one thing, small businesses are the engines that really drive our economy, so just by keeping your doors open you are helping the economy to recover. Second, if you have been in business for more than 5 years, you have already beaten the odds, since 95% of small businesses fail by their fifth year. If you have come this far, maybe it’s worth trying to keep your small business afloat a while longer.

Inspiration from Winston Churchill and Abe Lincoln

Whenever I feel like having a pity party because one or more of my small businesses is floundering, I always turn to the examples of two inspiring leaders: Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.

Consider Winston Churchill, who survived two world wars, much criticism (as well as praise), and the turmoil of British politics for many decades. He was definitely a maverick, and suffered the indignities that are often heaped upon such characters. When invited to give a commencement speech at Eton, a well known private school in England, Churchill endured the 20-minute introduction, and then stood up and said:

“Never give up. Never give up. Never, never, never.”

Then he sat down. In just nine words, Churchill captured the very essence of his indomitable will to succeed. Do those words ring a bell for you?

And then there is Abraham Lincoln, who demonstrated a similar sort of stubborn persistence that eventually led to success. Although many of us are familiar with parts of Lincoln’s political career, many are unaware of how many failures he suffered before he became President. Here’s a short chronology of Lincoln’s career:

1831  Failure in business

1832  Defeated for Legislature

1833  Failure in business again

1834  Elected to Legislature

1835  Sweetheart died

1836  Nervous breakdown

1838  Defeated for Speaker

1840  Defeated for Elector

1843  Defeated for Congressional Nomination

1846  Elected to Congress

1848  Defeated for Congress

1855  Defeated for Senate

1856  Defeated for Vice President

1859  Defeated for Senate

1860  Elected President

While Lincoln wasn’t recorded as saying, “Never give up on what you want,” it’s clear that he never did. Twelve defeats and major life losses marked his life, yet Lincoln never faltered in going after what he wanted.

Feel Inspired About Your Small Business Yet?

So if your small business has hit a bump in the road, be it a minor pothole or a major road hazard, think of Lincoln and Churchill. Perhaps by comparing the scale of your problems to the scale of the problems these two men faced, your business problems will shrink into perspective. In this time of economic correction, we need more small business owners with Churchill’s spirit and Lincoln’s will to step up and lead the way to recovery. So perhaps Churchill’s commencement comments can become a battle cry for your small business (as it has become for mine):

Never give up. Never give up. Never, never, never!

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