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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Price of Patience In Entrepreneurship

I saw this insightful article in the Punch which I believe gives a great message to upcoming entrepreneurs. The writer relates why budding entrepreneurs need a lesson in perseverance. Read a part of the article written by Deola Kayode below:

I find the story of Chinese bamboo trees of the Moso species very fascinating. To plant a bamboo tree, you prepare the soil, plant your seeds, begin to water it and wait. You continue to water it for a whole year and nothing appears. No bud, no sprout, nothing. Also, you do a bit of weeding over the ‘empty’ land. You water and nurture a plant that you have not seen. Other people who chose different plans tell you to be patient, but you never believe it takes this long.

The Chinese bamboo tree is remarkable because it illustrates how businesses grow organically. While most trees grow steadily over the years, this remarkable tree hardly follows the usual fashion; it doesn't sprout off the ground in its first 4 years. Then, in the fifth year, something dramatic happens, the tree begins to grow at an astonishing rate. As a matter of fact, in a period of just five weeks after the fifth year, a Chinese bamboo tree can grow to a height of 90 feet!

By the third year, you start second guessing yourself and if you are not strong enough, you may begin to question the seed, the soil, climate, the nation, yourself, anything and everything. This is the hard part for most of us. We get caught up and excited about our big ideas that even within days of our initial investment, we simply cannot wait for it to succeed. Within days of initial conceptualization and execution, we want success so badly that we cannot afford to be patient. The problem is neither the seeds nor the farmer. It is a question of perseverance.


The bamboo trees don’t grow in the fifth year. They grow over five years, even in times when there are no shoots seen on the land. The growers understand the need to keep faith and to keep watering the soil.
Henry Ford had to water his bamboo tree through 5 business failures before he finally succeeded with the Ford Motor Company. Thomas Edison had to keep watering through failures and several inventions, such that when he was buried on October 21, 1931, electric lights were dimmed for one minute throughout the United States, as a sign of respect to the man who ‘gave’ the world the incandescent bulb.

Despite his failing health, Ray Kroc kept watering McDonald’s and it became America’s finest fast food restaurant. The founders of YouTube had to water again when the original idea of creating a video dating website was not coming through. Roxio continued to water for almost 80 years in the face of bankruptcy till they struck gold with their 52nd game, Angry Birds. Steve Jobs accepted to come back to water his ‘first plant’ Apple Corporation after he was fired from his own company. He eventually became a global icon of innovation.

Your idea will only guarantee five per cent of your success. Creative entrepreneurs intending to build world class businesses need to know that a successful business is a delicate combination of wit and will, accompanied by so many nights of hard work, significant value and support from the right team, right market and marketing approach with a huge dose of luck. Every venture capitalist understands this and that is what they look for when they want to invest.

The growers of the Chinese bamboo tree have faith that if they keep watering and fertilizing the ground, the tree will break through. Well, you must have the same kind of faith in your business idea. Even when it becomes clear that the idea will fail, learn to cut your losses and move on. To run a successful business, hit Forbes richest list, or to be featured as the next start-up story, we must have faith that if we keep improving, calling and following up on clients, learning from mentors, as long as you keep watering and working hard at your dream, it will come to fruition. It may take weeks. It may take months, some even take years, but eventually, the roots will take hold and your tree will grow. And when it does, it will grow in remarkable ways.

So keep watering and believing and before you know it, you too will be flying high. We've seen this happen so many times. Someday when things change but it will only favour those who are ready.
Remember, hard work will always defeat talent especially when talent doesn't work hard.

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