Real-world Entrepreneurship: Why Hard Work isn’t Enough

A lot of people find refuge in buckling down and getting busy with a project. They’re often called “workaholics,” lumped in with the passionate, the driven and the desperate souls who populate the entrepreneurial landscape. There’s a mental kind of release in feeling like you’re actually getting something done.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t get that same feeling from some of the less concrete parts of startup life, like planning, researching and analyzing. So they try to lose themselves in solid work. Yet all those other things are absolutely critical to my point, which is that you can’t get by on hard work alone, not for any project, not ever.

Stressed Businessman

“you can’t get by on hard work alone”

A Successful Business isn’t Built on Just One Thing

Just like an idea alone can’t bring you real success, work alone isn’t going to help you succeed if you don’t have the other elements required for your business to succeed. This is one of the reasons that you need a good team; different working personalities fill in gaps in one another’s abilities, which helps to make the idea reality. The key aspects of your business need to be ensured by someone:

  • A killer business idea that sets you apart from the competition
  • A growing customer base for your product or service
  • The talent required to create and deliver on those products or services
  • The ability to manage and attract said talent

Really, those are the broad strokes, but there’s not much else to it. And you can’t get this stuff covered if you fly blind, just buckling down on grunt-work tasks.

Someone has to be aware of economic conditions affecting your industry and your customer base. Someone has to research new technology and competing products that may be putting you behind the times. And someone needs to be watching the way your entire organization works to ensure that you’re actually getting done what needs to get done, that you have the capital and the plan to make it six months, a year, five years. And when you’re living the startup life, that someone is you.

Fighting the Desire to Disappear into the Details

Being consumed by work may be psychologically rewarding, but it can distract you from things that really matter. You can’t just charge ahead, single-minded and taking no stock of the shifting business climate around you. You need to be the vanguard, the person blazing the trail for your entire organization, whether you’re the whole show or the head of a growing team.

There’s a reason we retreat into mindless busywork when there are real strategic and conceptual challenges to be tackled. It’s the procrastination bug that causes us to look for something else to do—anything else—than the hard stuff. But isn’t that why you became an entrepreneur, so that you wouldn’t be doing someone else’s gopher tasks, grinding away at the mindless minutiae of it all?

The truth is that we’re tempted to avoid that stuff because we’re scared of fully investing ourselves and then failing and having nothing left. It would be a confirmation (not really) that you aren’t good enough. But if you’re not willing to take that risk—to put all of your energy, hope and emotional force behind an idea you believe in—then you may need to ask yourself if you’re really cut out to be an entrepreneur.

Mike Mann is a serial entrepreneur and author seeking to drive real-world change using profits from his many profitable business ventures. To learn how to make your own business a success, and to hear more about Mike’s charitable vision, read or download his book.