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Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


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Have you the patience of a saint?


 I recently blogged about a characteristic, and how to build it, that all successful entrepreneurs must have bucket loads of – resilience. It occurred to me today, that another characteristic that all successful entrepreneurs must gain quickly is patience. Let’s face it the opposite of patience is ‘hasty’ and ‘impetuous’ some character traits more normally associated with entrepreneurs. Let me let you into a little secret. My husband believes that I have no patience...

You may be thinking, why is patience so important to an entrepreneur? Building up a client or customer base, raising your profile and generating goodwill all takes time. 80% of all sales are made on the 5th time of following up... New marketing strategies all take time to come to fruition... For example, if you join a breakfast networking group you should give it at least 6 months before expecting to see a return on your investment. It is interesting to note, that it is easy to destroy a good reputation over night, but a good reputation takes months – even years to build up. If you don’t believe me, just think about Arthur Anderson, Enron... Need, I say anymore?

So I applied the same thinking to patience, as to resilience. Is it something you are born with? Can you blame your parents if you don’t have it? Or is it something that you can gain over time?

1. Reframe the picture

See the situation from the other person’s perspective. I use this frequently with my coaching clients and it helps them find a new clarity to a situation. This new clarity, combined with a renewed understanding of the end goal helps people find the motivation to soldier on and be patient.

2. Grow old

Not the quickest way to gain patience, but with maturity also comes additional patience. Think about the patience of a baby compared with a 50 year old... Perhaps I’m being a bit flippant... However, after having my first born I had to learn patience. A baby is not going to stop screaming at 2 a.m. in the morning just because you have had enough. (Although, sometimes I wish that wasn’t the case) Young babies and toddlers do encourage you to learn patience the hard way!

3. Recognise what you can or cannot control

My family went camping to the Isle of Wight in the summer half term holiday. We were made to find patience when trying to catch a ferry both times. Each time we missed our ferry due to situations that was outside of our control. When we recognised that we couldn’t prevent the traffic jam or move any quicker, then we found the patience to relax and de-stress. So what's the equivalent a traffic jam for your business?

4. Become religious

Once again, not the quickest way to gain patience, but all the major religions cites patience as a virtue. Hence, perhaps seeking enlightenment from a higher power may help increase our patience

5. Keep the end in mind

By actually knowing what the end is, and keeping the big picture present at all times will allow you to make the right decision and keep going towards the bigger reward, rather than choose a smaller more ‘instant’ reward.

6. Set realistic targets – and measurement points

Entrepreneurs are normally brimming over with revenue generating ideas. However, successful entrepreneurs don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, and give a strategy time to work! Set yourself a time limit, and review points, and only then if you are not seeing any return on your investment change tack.

7. Break your targets down

As the saying goes, how do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time. It’s easier to focus on a big goal by breaking it into little chunks and achieving those little chunks. A large client base is built up 1 client at a time. A blog starts to become a major asset for you when heavily populated – but it is still built up one post at a time.

8. Take a deep breath

Very often our emotions take over – particularly if we feel threatened. By taking a deep breath, it gives you time to think rationally and anchor yourself on what is really important to you. When managing conflict situations or in a negotiation, the ability to listen and be patient while the other side talks is a great skill to have.

9. Believe in yourself

If you have enough self-confidence you will have the confidence to carry on a course of action until fruition. If you don’t have confidence in your decisions, you will more likely be swayed by a different course of action.

10.  Work with a mentor or coach

It’s all too easy when you are a sole trader to change your mind and go and do something else. A coach or mentor will keep you accountable to your goals and action plans. They will also support and encourage you during the difficult times – giving you the patience necessary to achieve longer term goals.

If you find are finding it difficult to keep focused and see strategies through – why not give me a call? After all it’s only a phone call - you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose.

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Heather Townsend


Read more from Heather Townsend

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