What is it about entrepreneurial success that one can learn from a mountain goat?

Mountain goats have always been a source of silent inspiration to me. Per se, mountain goats are not true goats, but are a close relative and more popularly known as goat-antelopes. These are surefooted beasts that inhabit many of North America’s most spectacular alpine environments,  often appear at precipitous heights, from Alaska to the U.S. Rocky Mountains, showcasing climbing abilities that leave other animals, including most humans, far below. Mountain goats have cloven hooves with two toes that spread wide to improve balance. Rough pads on the bottom of each toe provide the grip of a natural climbing shoe. Mountain goats are powerful but nimble and can jump nearly 12 feet in a single bound.

What fascinates me about the mountain goats is not their natural structure that makes them fit to climb such rough and rocky terrains but the fact that “a mountain goat always makes it to the top irrespective of the environmental conditions,” and it is their sheer “PERSISITENCE” in their efforts to make it to the top that makes all the difference.

It is a universal fact that persistence is important and probably every one of us would have heard the quote “If at first you don’t succeed, try again” or seen the commercial that talks about falling down 7 times and standing up 8.  

Talking of persistence one cannot but talk about one of the most motivating stories of entrepreneurial persistence, the story of “Milton Hershey”, the founder of “Hershey’s”.

Milton Hershey had a long path to the top of the chocolate industry. Hershey dropped out of school in the 4th grade and took an apprenticeship with a printer, only to be fired. He then became an apprentice to a candy-maker in Lancaster, PA. After studying the business for 4 years, Hershey started three unsuccessful candy companies in Philadelphia, Chicago and New York.

Hershey was not about to give up, so he moved back to Lancaster and began the Lancaster Caramel Company. His unique caramel recipe, which he had come across during his earlier travels, was a huge success. Hershey, who was always looking ahead, believed that chocolate products had a much greater future than caramel. He sold the Lancaster Caramel Company for $1 million in 1900 (nearly $25 million in 2008 dollars) and started the Hershey Company, which brought milk chocolate — previously a Swiss delicacy — to the masses.

Not only did Hershey overcome failure and accomplish his goals, but he also managed to do it close to home. Hershey created hundreds of jobs for Pennsylvanians. He also used some of his money to build houses, churches, and schools, cementing his status as a legend in the Keystone State. (www.growthink.com)

Building a successful business is somewhat akin to  climbing a mountain: it’s a relentless uphill battle most of the way, but the view from the top is pretty spectacular. Persistence plays a very necessary part in reaching the top, achieving entrepreneurial success. Anything worth attaining will require hard work over a period of time. And in order to tackle the challenges ahead, one needs to become a master of persistence.

Persistence is critical and essential for entrepreneurial success and it is by an indomitable spirit that persistence will never have  entrepreneurs  give up on their dreams of building a viable business. There is no impediment too great. This unflagging attribute is a key characteristic of triumphant business builders.

An entrepreneurial pursuit is full of facing and tackling bewildering and potentially catastrophic situations. It calls on entrepreneurs to possess courage, hope and a deeply held belief that they can survive the moment and continue to prosper. Personal strength, greatness, self-confidence, maturity and wisdom are by-products gained through unfathomable adversity and sheer persistence. It has been said that men become great mariners when sailing on troubled waters, not calm seas. The same axiom applies in the entrepreneurship.

Persistence is crucial because at some point we are  bound to make mistakes, some big and some small. Messing up is a part of being human, but we learn and improve from each mistake. But giving up too early will deny us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, and will be then just left with failure.

If you are a would be entrepreneur or a budding one , here are a few suggestions that will help in persisting when the going gets tough;

1) Don’t leave your path, or panic or  give up.

2) Have faith in your abilities and believe that you will make it through.

3) With a calm disposition explore every possible option  to solve the problem at hand.

4) Look for advice from a trusted mentor

5) Bring in your trusted employees, engage them meaningfully in resolving the situation

6) Evaluate the results of your decisions and if not satisfactory, try once again but don’t stop.

Great entrepreneurs are survivors. They have weathered life’s stormy seas. They have moved heaven and earth to accomplish their business goals. They will never give up. The world of business is full of instances of most successful entrepreneurs having started and stopped several ill-conceived enterprises. It is not denying the fact that there may be a few lucky ones who have launched an award-winning business in their first try. The fact remains that most of us need multiple attempts and we being entrepreneurs are by nature, persistent souls.

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