7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship, Part 1: Impatience

There’s a lot that can go wrong when you’re trying to start a business – and it doesn’t matter if you own Subway franchise, a multi-million dollar consulting business, or a collection of niche websites that aim to earn you money passively.  Businesses large and small, simple and complex, all suffer from the same core problems with varying magnitudes.

To cover these issues (as I see them), I’ve decided to write a short series: The 7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of “sins” nor are they issues that ever entrepreneur will face.  Ideally, if you’re doing everything 100% perfectly (which no one does), you won’t experience any of these.  Today, I’ll start with the first one:  Impatience.

When you’re just starting a business or in the middle of running one, you’re very active.  Go go go is often the attitude you have, and it’s the attitude you associate with success.  In many cases, more activity = greater results.  It’s logical.

In some ways, I think starting a business is somewhat like baking.  I’ll be the first to point out that I have yet to start a successful business AND have yet to do any real successful baking. (I tried to make cookies one time that turned out tasting like mini, flat cakes.  It was weird.)  I think the analogy works, however.  I don’t care how badly you want to eat the cookies now – they need to bake for the proper amount of time, and you need to wait for them to cool off before you can enjoy them.

Be Patient

When you’re starting a business, there’s a lot you can do to accelerate the process (one of the big things is outsourcing), but your business’s growth only moves as fast as your customers do, and it only moves while you have the right amount of exposure to them.  Or, to look at it from a “niche site” perspective, you’re only going to get clicks or sales once you have traffic, and you’ll only get traffic once you’ve been patient with the backlinking process (and the subsequent “Google dance” that often ensues).

Don’t Let Impatience Be the Reason You Fail

It’s very tempting to call it quits or admit defeat/failure before you’ve even given yourself the chance to succeed.  People are generally optimistic (sometimes too optimistic), but they’re also very impatient.  Impatience sometimes causes people to do crazy things.  Most of these things can be overcome, but the one that can’t be overcome when a person decides to give up.

If you’re going to fail, so be it.  We all make mistakes, we all fail at something.  Most of us fail with many things.  It’s how we learn and how we grow.  Failing is often just as much a stepping stone to the “next level” as success is.  We often learn a lot more through failure than we do through success.  Maybe failure is just one of those necessary evils.

Guess which type of failure you learn nothing from?  Giving up due to impatience.  All you’ve learned by giving up is that you weren’t willing to wait around for real challenges or, perhaps, success.

How Can We Fight Impatience?

Telling someone to be patient is a lot like telling someone to be a better person.  We know the end goal, but there isn’t a definite guide you can give someone to help them get there.  I previously wrote a post titled “How to Be Patient With Lifestyle Design.”  I’m not going to rewrite the entire post here, but I wanted to pull out a few tips for how to be patient:

1) Recognize that failure is everywhere – embrace it

People are often impatient, jumping from one thing to the next (prematurely) because they are afraid of failure.  Waiting around for failure may sound like a reckless approach to entrepreneurship, but within reason, it’s not a bad thing.  Sometimes failed projects only require minor tweaks to be successful.  It’d be great to have a hit on your first attempt, but that’s not usually the way things go.

Take blogging, for example.  In my first few months of blogging, traffic was extremely slow.  I was writing consistently, but only seeing 20-30 visitors per day after a few months.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “I’m doing all I can do, and these are my only results.  It’s time to throw in the towel.”  That’s simply not true.  You can tweak your design.  You can network with other bloggers.  You can become more active in an online community.

There are a lot of little things you can do (and things that I did) to bring my blog out of a state of “failure.”  I still don’t even consider this blog a complete success, but I know that being patient has paid off, and will continue to pay off, provided I continue putting in the work.

2) Stay within your area of interest

I stayed away from using the phrase, “follow your passion” because it’s becoming a bit too cliche.  If you’re trying to be successful and make money with your own business, your passion is not always the best focus (this thought was recently inspired by Maren Kate’s post about building a passionless business).  Instead, I’d simply say stick to something that you find interesting.  This really helps pass the time when you’d otherwise become impatient (or bored) and give up.

3) Take a break

Your gut instinct when results aren’t coming as quickly as you’d like is to do more work.   Although more work is sometimes the key to more results, it’s also often the path to burning out and giving up.  Take a step back, and take a break.  This might be something as short as a walk outside for 30 minutes, or as long as a week where you do nothing but watch TV and enjoy time with friends and family.  You’ll be able to come back to your project with a fresh perspective and more patience than you had previously.  You might even be able to more clearly see the reason why results haven’t come as planned.

Conclusion

Patience is really something that comes from within – you aren’t going to be able to find it externally.  For most things in life, the consequences of being impatient are minor (like burning your mouth on freshly baked cookies that haven’t cooled off yet).  In business, or as an entrepreneur, impatience can derail an entire project by either causing you to give up too soon, or take action that isn’t appropriate.

What do you think about impatience?  Is it as bad as I’m making it out to be? Unfortunately, impatience isn’t the only thing that I believe can be “deadly” for your business.  Stay tuned for “deadly sin” #2.  To make sure you don’t miss any future updates, consider subscribing to my RSS feed.  Also, I’d love it if you shared this post using the buttons below or in the left sidebar.  Thanks!  :)

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47 Responses to “7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship, Part 1: Impatience”

  1. Impatience can be a killer in the seo world. When building your first affiliate site etc, the urge to create backlinks fast is insane. But I guess you get used to it after a while and can fight the urge!
    Will @ Every Day Seo recently posted… The Dirty Secrets of Search – my quick thought

    [Reply]

    Lyndsy Simon Reply:

    I’m personally of the opinion that backlinks cannot be created too quickly. There may be some truth to “link velocity”, but I’ve never seen a site deindexed due to building backlinks too quickly.

    Can you cite data on this? I mean, it makes sense that it could hurt you, but I’m hard to convince :)

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    When you’re building backlinks manually, you’re right, it’s difficult to create them “too quickly.” I don’t think there’s an issue with sites being deindexed due to excessive backlinking.

    I DO think, however, that there is an issue with the elusive “sandbox.” I’m not sure if the issue is quantity of links, but does seem to be with the variation in anchor text. If you have 500 backlinks and 450 of them all have the same anchor text, Google sees that as abnormal and suspicious. I don’t think Google is manually picking out sites to sandbox (obviously), but there’s strong evidence pointing to the notion that they have some kind of filter in place.

    I don’t have concrete data on this, but it’s happened to me several times now and I’ve read about it happening to many others. There’s plenty of debate on the subject though.

    [Reply]

    Will @ Every Day SEO Reply:

    Yes I agree, a site is highly unlikely to be deindexed.

    With ‘sandox’ I have found it to be building high pr links within the 1st couple of months

  2. I find impatience to be a resource, something to be tapped to get more done.

    While additional activity on a site can be of little or no benefit – or in some cases, even have a negative impact – I tend to take that energy and roll it into building another site, or trying a different path to profitability.

    In November, I started a gun reviews site. That’s going well, but before it started growing, I started a wallpapers site. As that grew, I started wrote out specs for a premium WordPress plugin and learned to outsource.

    With this much on my plate, I find that I have to manage my time to do that which will benefit me most, first. Yes, there is more work out there than I can do, but that’s 0K – because I find that the result of my efforts are great because I’m focusing on those specific activities that stand the greatest chance of actually making me money.

    For instance – today, at lunch, there was nothing I could do to provide immediate benefit. Instead of adding yet more wallpapers or changing a color on my gun reviews site, I went to Clickbank, found a product to promote, and started a Facebook ad campaign for it. It’s something that I’ve never done before, and may turn out to be a failure and a waste of $20 — but it’s something new, interesting, and it just might be the path that takes me out of my cubicle during the day into the world of Internet Marketing full-time.

    [Reply]

    Lonnie @ My Income Lab Reply:

    Eric – you are spot on. For some of us, impatience is only compounded because we still have full time jobs and finding the will to press on after a long day of work is really challenging when there is no immediate results. I like your advice to walk away, even if its for a week. That’s what I’ve been doing because burnout has been setting in.
    Lonnie @ My Income Lab recently posted… Backlinks The Completely Unscientific Way – Part 1 Squidoo and You Updated

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Lonnie. I love taking breaks (not too many though!) because they really help you step back and avoid burnout, which is critical to your success.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Great point, Lyndsy. Sometimes impatience can cause/allow you to try out new things and explore other opportunities. Like you said, you just might find the path to true success this way.

    The thing to be careful about is, although you’re avoiding the downside of being impatient, you might be spreading yourself too thin. When things start to pick up with one or more of your projects, you may find yourself unable to focus enough on it/them. This is something I struggle with – I’ll be the first to admit it.

    Obviously, it doesn’t have to go this way – you know yourself best and you know what you’re capable of managing and how you prioritize things.

    [Reply]

  3. That’s one of my largest frustrations, overall, is my impatience. It feels like I’ve put in my dues from the years that I’ve been at it online but there’s always been something that seems to have held me back – it’s hard to say when it’ll finally pass the tipping point but I know that I won’t be giving up because it’s all still something I love to do – that hustle 😀
    Murlu recently posted… Blog Post Frequency- Give It Some Time Dammit!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I know what you mean, Murray. You feel like you’ve put in a ton of work and the results aren’t quite where you’d like them to be. The good thing is, I’m sure you’re confident that you’ll have that breakthrough (and in many ways, you have, just by the plans/goals you have in place).

    At the end of the day, if you’re enjoying whatever you’re doing, you can handle that impatience much better than someone who hates it.

    [Reply]

  4. Impatience is definitely a weakness of mine. I do mind putting in the work but I do expect a return on my investment (hard work).

    With that being said I will not be giving up because I have no choice. I will be losing my job towards the end of this year and I have a strong desire to create a successful business online to replace my income and not “work” again.

    I do agree that it is important to overcome impatience if we are to be successful. We will never know what successes we might miss out on if we give up too early.

    Take care!

    – Rick
    Rick Byrd recently posted… My New Facebook Fan Page – Have A Look

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment Rick! I like your attitude – and knowing that you will be losing your job gives you a little bit more “fire” toward your effort and goals for success online.

    I’m sure a year from now, we’ll all be reading about how losing your job was the best thing that ever happened to you. :)

    [Reply]

  5. oh…I hate the word “fail” so much, Eric. I think we only “fail” when we define things in our lives as such. If we think we’ve failed, we’ve failed.

    When Thomas Edison finally made the lightbulb, didn’t he say something on the lines of “I didn’t fail 10,000 times, I just learned 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb.”

    The quote is a stroke of brilliance. :)
    Howie recently posted… 101 Books You Must Read to Succeed

    [Reply]

    Howie Reply:

    P.S. Tactical CashFlow REQUIRES patience…hence the idea behind it.

    Just think of the Tet Offensive: months of strategic and tactical planning, maneuver, and positioning of pieces in the perfect place. Resisting the urge to jump or attach prematurely….

    With the competition online nowadays, I truly believe there has to be a tactical element to success. It’s difficult for a newbie to just emerge successful….that’s why I’m such a firm believer in using young, yet massively growing sites with growth trends like InfoBarrel.
    Howie recently posted… 101 Books You Must Read to Succeed

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Howie, I love that quote. One of the best “don’t give up” quotes ever.

    I definitely agree with you regarding the necessity for a tactical element to success. I also think that today, people need to start getting a bit more creative if they want to be seen by more than a few.

    [Reply]

  6. In a lot of ways, I think my sin is patience, not impatience. I seem to over-think, over-analyze, let things catch up to me, and not do enough work to make things happen. I’m trying to be more impatient in 2011 and make things happen for me – so far, so good.

    I think being a bit impatient can be beneficial at certain steps of building a business. Be more patient at the beginning during the planning stages, have a burst of impatience to build up your first 5-10 customers, then slow back down to re-evaluate your systems, feedback, etc.

    Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I approach it like writing: plan out a draft/idea, write it out quickly, then go back and edit before finally publishing it.

    I can’t wait for the other deadly sins. Is there going to be a head in a box at the very end? (from the movie Se7en if you didn’t catch the reference)

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I know what you mean, James. The phrase “analysis paralysis” comes to mind – you’re over analyzing, and it’s causing you to freeze rather than take action.

    Impatience can be a good thing when it creates action, but only IF it’s creating the *right* action. A lot of times, impatience causes us to do things that really derail/distract us more than anything.

    I loved the movie Se7en. Hopefully there won’t be a head in the box at the end. 😛

    [Reply]

  7. Amazing post! Right on! Patience is critical. The gains in online marketing are exponential over time but the first few years can be slow, especially in SEO. However, if you stick it out, the rewards are truly there. Same thing goes for the corporate world. Stick it out and you’ll be the last one standing with huge rewards.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I love your perspective, Ian, because you’ve been doing this for awhile. When I feel like things are taking too long, I step back and realize “Hey – I’ve barely been doing this for a year.”

    I know you’ve probably had niche sites that haven’t been successful until after year 1, so it’s good to be able to see the long-term timeline. It certainly helps you with your patience in the short run. Everyone wants instant success, and the fact of the matter is, very few can pull it off. The rest of us just need to be patient. :)

    [Reply]

  8. I definitely agree with this one, and it’s still what I struggle with most. While I know in my head that patience is a virtue, and I’ve even experienced it, there’s also no argument that with my personality it will continue to be what I struggle with the most. Perfect one to knock off the series with, IMO.
    Master Dayton recently posted… How Are You Going to Bust Through- A Freelance Writing Rant

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Master Dayton. You’re right, it’s nearly impossible to fight with your own personality. That’s probably a situation where it helps to have a community (either online or offline) where you can talk through these struggles and periods of impatience.

    There’s nothing like hearing from someone else: “Slow down, keep working hard, and good things will come.” It’s very difficult to tell yourself that, however.

    [Reply]

  9. Eric,

    You are right to talk about this first. That’s my biggest frustration now. It feels like I’ve put in a ton of work but I’ve yet to see good results. There are times when I feel if I’m doing it right but then again, there are a lot others who are in the same boat as me, which is kinda reassuring.

    But still, I’m not sitting back and hope for something good to happen. Right now I’m just taking a back seat and do some thinking about what really works for me and what can work. It’s pointless to keep doing what you are doing when you don’t see any difference.

    Cheers buddy!
    Bryan recently posted… Seek More Understanding- Not More Information

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Good points, Bryan. I think we’re all in the same boat on this one. My Amazon niche site creation has stalled significantly since I started, mainly because of the slow results. I’ll have that initial boost where I’m ranking high and the site is earning, but then once everything comes back down, it’s been a struggle to get the site earning again.

    I still trust that this is one of those things that just takes time. Nothing we’re doing now is a “waste” of time (hopefully) – it’s just going to require patience to see results.

    [Reply]

  10. I have to admit, when I first started blogging I was expecting instant gratification. I WAS DEAD WRONG. A year and a half later I am only beginning to get some feedback on my work and noticing the positive benefits.

    How does the saying go…”It takes 5 years to be an overnight success?”
    Steven | TEM recently posted… The Desire to Change People

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I hear you, Steven. It was probably 6 months on this blog before I started seeing regular readers, and that was after months of writing several posts per week, leaving lots of comments on other blogs, and doing some guest posts. It’s not easy, that’s for sure. And even now that I have traffic, it doesn’t mean I’m earning money. Part of that’s my fault, because I do my best to not really monetize this blog (aside from the occasional affiliate link). :) I’d much rather have other projects where I’m making money, and talk about them here. That’s ideal for me.

    Keep at it though, and the benefits will keep rolling in. No doubt about it.

    [Reply]

  11. Oh, impatience can be so frustrating to deal with, no matter what it’s involved with.

    I find the best way to dceal with it is to get a better perspective of things; what is it you’re really trying to resolve? Is it so important that it must be done now or can it wait?

    Asking these questions can calm things down, and redefine your focus.
    Stuart recently posted… Ways To Make Valentine’s Day More Lovable

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Great tips, Stuart. Anything you can do to get yourself to pause and really think about why you’re impatient is probably good for dealing with impatience in general.

    [Reply]

  12. I completely agree and recently also wrote an article about the importance of patience. This is especially true in blogging where you may not see any evidence of your success for months.
    Richard recently posted… Creating a Premium Article for Your Blog

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Very true, Richard! Getting to where you want to be with blogging is NOT easy and definitely takes a lot of time (aside from the rare exceptions who get “lucky”).

    [Reply]

  13. I definitely agree that impatience is the main cause of failure – typically what happens is someone decides to “blast” their site (or “nuke”, or some other macho word) with low quality links and it disappears into oblivion.

    You need to drip feed the links – I don’t do more than two a day. You need to vary your anchor text – make a list of 20 keywords you want to rank for, and then try to use all these keywords in your backlink anchors. It will take longer to rank – but you will end up ranking for so many more keywords that you get much higher traffic than if you just targeted a single keyword. Finally, people need to backlink their backlinks. So if you are feeling impatient, then go make some backlinks to the hubpage or infobarrel page that is linking to your main site.
    teatree recently posted… Diversifying

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey teatree – I really like that backlink strategy. I wish I would’ve thought to take that approach when I created most of my niche sites – they probably wouldn’t be in the “sandbox” right now if I had been more careful with the quantity of backlinks and the anchor text I used. Thanks for the comment!

    [Reply]

  14. Any idea when the next installment is coming, Eric?
    Howie recently posted… A More Detailed Case for InfoBarrel

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for staying on top of this, Howie. :)

    I’m working on a pretty killer “list post” right now that I’d like to finish and publish before I get to the next installment of this series. I’m guessing that will probably happen by the weekend or maybe next Monday.

    [Reply]

    Howie Reply:

    Is that one you’ll be submitting to Pat, Eric? I just submitted mine yesterday…

    It’s my “101 Books You Must Read to Succeed” Blog Post…
    Howie recently posted… A More Detailed Case for InfoBarrel

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Yup, you got it.

  15. I’m currently creating a virtual product that I’d like to get out as soon as possible but I know that impatience will surely result in a product that is lower in quality. I do have a timeline but I’ve come to terms that I can’t rush this one.

    I agree with you on the part about taking a break. The other day, I worked 8 hours straight on this particular project and I was completely burned out at the end of the day. I took a few days off from it and now I’ve got renewed interest in it.

    I assume you’re writing your list post as part of Pat’s Feb reader challenge? I submitted mine a couple of weeks ago. Looking forward to what you come up with!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    The best thing for your virtual product is that you stick to your timeline and launch it when you plan to launch it – you certainly don’t want to rush it and sacrifice quality, but at the same time, you shouldn’t try to perfect it.

    You can tweak projects forever and they will almost never be perfect – that’s sometimes a large barrier for many product launches. Sometimes it’s best to get it to a “good enough” state, and then tweak it after it launches (depending on what it is, of course).

    And yes, the post I’m working on is for Pat’s reader challenge. I’m hoping to publish it today (it’s taking much longer than I originally expected).

    [Reply]

  16. Impatience is a big problem, most people get scared when they see their business isn’t growing or things start to look bad after they worked so hard. They start thinking if it’s worth it investing any more time and/or money in there, or if they should just apply another business idea they have and see how that works.
    But this way you end up eventually doing nothing but really wasting time and money, all because you killed a business that had all the chances of succeeding with a little more time and work.
    Maria Pavel recently posted… CNA Training in Arizona

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Exactly, Maria. And maybe there is a point where it’s time to cut your losses and give up, but we tend to give up much too early.

    [Reply]

    Maria Pavel Reply:

    There’s definitely a time to give up and count your loses, but if you have no experience you can’t predict that moment, and your best bet is to keep going and try harder.
    Maria Pavel recently posted… Certified Nursing Assistant Practice Test

    [Reply]

  17. Hey Eric,

    Like previous commenters noted, I’ve never liked the word “failure” myself. To me, it describes the ultimate sense of defeat – something so negative that it’s incredibly hard to recover from or negatively impacts something to the extreme. In other words, failure is something short of disaster; at least, that’s how I see it.

    Also, “failure” in and of itself is a pretty depressing word to use and can be discouraging if someone were to feel as though they’ve failed every time he/she made a mistake. It creates an enormous sense of dread (similar to the foreboding you would get if you received an “F” on a test grade in grade school).

    Instead, I like to use the word “mistake,” since it encourages you to fix your error or put things into rights, improving your rate of growth in the long-term. Saying that you made a mistake in giving up too early (rather than that you failed in creating a particular blog) is also easier on the mind and allows you to pick yourself back up again and start over from the beginning.

    Great tips on maintaining patience!

    Christina
    Christina Crowe recently posted… Understanding Link Wheels and Avoiding Sandboxes- The Beginner’s Guide

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Christina – I like the word “mistake” instead of “failure.” I also like the word “challenge.” Both words (mistake and challenge) imply that there’s something to be learned or something that can be fixed, to help propel you beyond your initial struggles.

    Thanks for the comment. :)

    [Reply]

  18. When you’re new to something you expect fast results. What we do is the same, and beginners tend to make the mistake to expect results a little too fast.
    Impatience is something we all had at one point in time, but we learned to do better. At least i hope most of us did.
    Martin recently posted… CDL Classes – How to Become a Professional Truck Driver

    [Reply]

  19. Some people tend to put too much work into it when they first start a business. Normally this is a good thing, but when you don’t take breaks you often fail to see the bigger picture, and that could cost you your business. You need to go fishing for a couple of days (guilty of it) and think things in another, more relaxed, atmosphere.
    Amit recently posted… Forklift Training Schools

    [Reply]

  20. Building a business — online or offline — is a lot like gardening. You have to take the long view in order to be able to see the potential of the harvest. Ironically, the internet has given us the taste for instant gratification. As the saying goes, patience is a virtue …!
    Jon recently posted… Physical Therapy Assistant Job Description Details — What To Look For

    [Reply]

  21. From my experience, the best method to fight impatience is to make a proper plan and stick to it. You need to build steps, and you need to follow them in a precise order.
    Richard recently posted… Wagner 0525032 EZ Tilt 7.2 GPH Power Painter Max featuring Optimus Dual Tip Technology Review

    [Reply]

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