True Grit: The Real Stuff of Entrepreneurs

Research shows that a lack of natural talent is mostly irrelevant to great success in any industry. But it’s especially true for small start-up businesses and entrepreneurs. 

A good number of small to midsize businesses (SMBs) survive and thrive on what we like to call true grit. According to the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA), nearly two-thirds of businesses make it to at least 2 years and about half survive at least 5 years. 

So, how do you remain in that top half? The answer is pretty simple… painful and demanding practice and hard work.

There is no substitute for hard work. Research in Forbes magazine by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth highlights that natural gifts or lack thereof are irrelevant – talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. You can make yourself great, though most accomplished people do need around 10 years of hard work before becoming “world-class”. 

And practice makes perfect. The best people in any industry are those who devote a significant amount of their time and energy on “deliberate practice”. Deliberate practice is an activity that’s explicitly intended to improve performance and provides feedback on results. 

Additionally, you can’t discount the importance of grit! According to Duckworth, grit is defined as “a perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

Hard work + Practice + Grit = Entrepreneurial Success


So what about talent? Are we really supposed to believe that talent is not necessary in growing a
small to midsize businesses? Well, maybe. There may be a reverse relationship between talent and grit. Sometimes having a lot of talent means you don’t always push through past where your talent has taken you. Think about it — as an entrepreneur, you are challenged on a daily basis and without perseverance and passion (grit) to push through those difficult times, how successful would you truly be?

Another aspect of becoming great is consistency. Success in a small business often is based on the ability of the entrepreneur to be disciplined.  It’s simple but not easy to maintain a steady tempo day in and day out. Consistency also means being able to analyze and measure your efforts, which will tell you whether you are on the right track…or not!

So, how does being an entrepreneur with a specific set of skills fit into becoming a great marketer for your company? 

Well, the point is that any company can achieve marketing success with hard work, practice, grit and consistency. All successful marketing campaigns, whether via branding, online presence or email, must have these three components.

If you are an entrepreneur wondering whether your small or midsize business has a strong marketing foundation, you can check out our free mini-assessment to see where your strengths and your opportunities might be.


Tomato Fish Marketing is an Indianapolis marketing company focused on helping small and midsize businesses make good strategic planning decisions.