Young Upstarts

All about entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, ideas, innovation, and small business.

True Grit: An Aspiring Entrepreneur’s Greatest Weapon

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by Ellyson Glance, 3 Day Startup

Often young or aspiring entrepreneurs believe that just having a great idea – or having a rich relative – are enough to be successful. At the very least, many think that this is the most important trait to have as an entrepreneur.

In actuality, this perspective is largely a misconception about successful entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in general. Through our work with aspiring entrepreneurs around the world, the 3DS community knows that ideas are fleeting and changeable. In fact, they often have to change several times to get to an MVP that actually solves a problem for your market.

But we find that whether or not a venture will work out or a particular entrepreneur will eventually be successful depends on one thing: grit.

What do we mean by grit?

Angela Duckworth, a psychology researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, has made a career out of studying grit. She defines it as passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is the drive and motivation to get things done and accomplish your goals no matter the obstacles. And grit is getting back up every time you stumble, brushing yourself off, and starting again. Entrepreneurs have to have grit to be successful. That is the defining feature. And while it might be nice to have that wealthy relative to be there to cut you a check or have that innovative idea no one has thought of before, those are non-essentials.

Because entrepreneurship isn’t a purely upward trajectory. The Mark Zuckerbergs and Elon Musks of the world are outliers; most entrepreneurs aren’t successful right away. And once you look closely at the success stories, you see that the ride is often bumpier than you might have imagined. Entrepreneurs experience ups and downs and they take a lot of hits. But the successful ones keep moving in spite of it all.

Fortunately for aspiring entrepreneurs, grit isn’t something that you either have or you don’t and that’s the end of it.

Or, at least, it doesn’t have to be.

3 Day Startup teaches grit by giving student the opportunity to stumble and get up again (…and stumble and get up again) in a lower risk environment, where it’s not quite as painful as a real life stumble. And they realize not only that they can get back up, but that there is an entrepreneurial community behind them.

But you can’t learn grit in a book or in a lecture. Grit must be learned through experience and failure. And slowly but surely, developing the wherewithal to persist and persist and persist.

That is the number one predictor of entrepreneurial success.

Do you have it?

ellyson glance

Ellyson Glance is Program Manager, Facilitator and Brand Journalist at 3 Day Startup, a nonprofit organization that delivers intensive, hands on entrepreneurship programs to students at colleges and universities across the globe. In her capacity as a Program Manager and Facilitator, Ellyson has interfaced with and led students from across the United States and beyond in realizing their entrepreneurial potential. 


This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.

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