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What it takes to succeed in business.

Depending on whose figures you're looking at, in the USA, 90% of all new small businesses will fail in their first 5 to 10 years. My personal experience with folks who are trying to "make it" online is that the failure rate is higher and faster. Why? Because when things don't go as planned many just give up and decide that they are unable to succeed on their own.

Is there a true key to success in running a business online? Yes, there is, and it's largely psychological.

My wife and I were browsing a local mall recently, as we occasionally do to get out of the house and do something fun. I'm not a shopper — I hate shopping — but I love bookstores, so I always make it a point to stop at the Borders bookstore when we go. My wife calls me a dork for doing it, but after checking for any new John Grisham novels I always head to the Science section.

This last time I found a fascinating book called The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, by Leonard Mlodinow. I love numbers, though I'm no mathematician, and this book is quite readable even if you cringe in fear when you hear the words "algebra" or "calculus."

The book discusses, in part, how the laws of randomness are at the heart of many successes that are often attributed to one person's abilities. To quote Mlodinow, "We all understand that genius doesn't guarantee success, but it's seductive to assume that success must come from genius."

Well if genius doesn't guarantee success, then what does?

Citing a 2005 Psychology Today article, Mlodinow later states that "psychologists have found that the ability to persist in the face of obstacles is at least as important a factor in success as talent."

Persistence is incredibly important when you're working for yourself. When you have a job, if there's a problem, you go to a manager or boss to help you solve the problem. When you're working for yourself, you have to take the initiative to fix the problem on your own. When you have a job, you earn a steady paycheck that you don't have to create. When you're working for yourself, it's up to you to ensure that you have enough work in the pipeline to keep the bills paid. There is a lot more stress and headache involved in being your own boss, especially in the formative years of your business.

Even if you're a super genius gifted with incredible talent, you're going to run into a lot of problems running a business. If you don't have the ability to persist in the face of those obstacles, you're going to fail, no matter how bright or talented you are.

This is particularly true in the online world. Many seem to believe that running a business online should be easy — but it's not. Doing business online typically does provide a greater level of flexibility and freedom, but it still requires a whole lot of good ol' fashioned (dare I say the four letter word?) work. This unexpected realization coupled with a lack of tenacity can quickly result in disillusionment and despondency.

Do people really believe that running a business online is easy? If you want evidence of this fallacious belief just look at all of the get rich quick schemes available online. Look at the top sellers in the ClickBank marketplace (especially the top Business to Business products). People promising riches for doing easy work like filling out surveys. "Common" sense should tell you that if it was that easy everyone would already be doing it, and yet these products continue to rake in money from countless people trying to chase the dream of self-employment.

The flip side of this psychological coin is that, even if you're just an "average Joe (or Jane)", with persistence and dedication you can succeed. Whether you've got a unique new idea of you're own or you're just replicating a successful method you've learned from some brilliant person, it's the persistence that's going to pay off for you.

Personally, it has taken me a few years of solid dedication, hard work, dozens of failures, sleepless nights, endless worry and loads of stress to get me to where I am now. And where is that?

I'm now at the point where I can spend 50-60 hours a month doing what really matters in life: volunteer work. Yes, I still work a lot (it's in my nature), but I can take my daughter to the arcade mid-morning on a weekday when we practically have the whole place to ourselves, and I can take several trips a year with my family without constantly worrying about my business because I have a fantastic support staff, and when my son is born in late July I won't have to ask anybody for time off to get to know him.

It is a dream, and it's one worth working hard for. Stick to it, keep trying despite obstacles and failures, and you'll get there, too (if you're not there already).

Let me close with a statement from Mlodinow's book that I particularly enjoyed: "It might seem daunting to think that effort and chance, as much as innate talent, are what counts. But I find it encouraging because, while our genetic makeup is out of our control, our degree of effort is up to us. And the effects of chance, too, can be controlled to the extent that by committing ourselves to repeated attempts, we can increase our odds of success."

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Source: psychology

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