Patience is a quality that tops the list of healthy, positive virtues alongside honesty, kindness, and empathy. These virtues are generally considered to be hallmarks of a good, moral person, but they’re considered virtues for another reason, too: People usually struggle to embody them on a daily basis.
The virtue of patience can be one of the most challenging to practice consistently, primarily because the stress of daily life and work gives us so many opportunities to experience frustration. From trying to stay calm in a traffic jam to shepherding small children through a grocery store checkout line, everyday stresses can make patience elusive.
We've all become accustomed to instant gratification, even in the face of 2020's challenging situation that forced us to cope with COVID and all its associated uncertainty and setbacks. However, to help ourselves and our relationships, it's vital to recognize the importance of patience in life.
Patience is especially vital for entrepreneurs
Cultivating patience is crucial for all types of entrepreneurs, including creative entrepreneurs. However, entrepreneurship can make practicing patience a serious challenge, given the many challenges faced by entrepreneurs.
Let’s say you’re anxious to raise funding or launch a business. You want immediate results from all that hard work. Good luck with that. Instead, know that it usually doesn’t work that way. Take a deep breath and consider the various reasons why entrepreneurs should practice patience and self-control in almost all they do, especially with their coworkers and other stakeholders.
1. Patience helps you avoid making hasty decisions
When you want something to happen now, you’re focused on what it feels like to get what you want, and may overlook questions about whether it is the right time or place for that development or event to occur. I’ve seen founders who rushed a business launch just to “get out there.”
This hasty decision often ruins crucial first impressions with a faulty product or a service that isn’t fleshed out as well as it could be yet. Constantly hurrying to the next stage leaves little time for your team to adjust to any mistakes you might make.
Instead, take the time to conduct adequate research, study the market and the competition, and define the target audience you want to reach. Doing so will help you make better decisions about how and when you launch.
2. Improve your reputation and brand image
How you market yourself as an entrepreneur is just as important as how you create a brand image and reputation for your startup. As an entrepreneur, you are your business. Being viewed as a patient person, rather than an impulsive, aggressive, and impatient one, can directly impact whether a prospect chooses to do business with your brand.
I know successful early-stage seed investors who say they often invest in founders, not even so much the business model they’re selling. Many VCs say they invest in people they simply like to be around.
A steady sense of calm may make you one of those people. Patience and calm can help bring about an unshakable confidence in your mission, instead of a palpable air of desperation. Investors and customers may see that. Your target audience needs to feel confident in your brand before they choose to work with you, so build that credibility by focusing on patience and positivity.
3. Drive you to work harder (and smarter)
If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you already work hard and know that you must wear many hats. However, when you focus on patience, you develop comfort with the reality that building something of value takes time.
Your desire to achieve success doesn't have to be clouded by impatience. Instead, you can use that desire and acceptance together as motivation to fuel your efforts. When you get tired or frustrated, you can reflect on how your previous sustained efforts got you to this point. That, in turn, can drive you to work even harder. You can take dynamic action, yet do it mindfully.
4. Deepen your resilience
Now more than ever, it's important to develop resilience, which is the ability to bounce back from challenges and keep going. As the events of 2020 proved, resilience is a critical trait for entrepreneurs, small business owners, teachers, students, and just about everyone else.
With patience and resilience, you remain focused on your goal despite any unexpected adversity. You know your goal is still possible and worth continuing toward, so you don't get bogged down by the clouded judgment that frustration can bring. In short, patience helps you stay effective for the long haul.
5. Amplify your appreciation
The longer it takes to get something you want, the greater your appreciation will be when you finally achieve it. Those who enjoy instant gratification tend to lose out on that experience of gratitude. However, when you climb that mountain patiently and finally reach the summit, you can enjoy an unparalleled sense of joy, knowing that your sustained effort got you there.
Truman Capote said that “failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” It takes a lot of patience to get through difficulties and failures. But as an entrepreneur, you can reach success and enjoy that sensation over and over again. Your sense of gratitude is heightened when it finally comes time to launch, or when sales climb, because you know how much you did to create that success. Stay grateful.
6. Select the best opportunities
Rather than rush ahead simply for the sake of movement, patience helps rein you in and focus on the best opportunities, instead of all the opportunities. This includes business ideas, investor funding, business partners, and talent. In each of these areas, you will find opportunities that seem good at first glance.
Your patience prevents you from simply jumping in with both feet. Instead, you will be able to hear that little voice telling you to take the time to evaluate your options and consider both the risks and the benefits. If anyone pushes you to make an immediate decision, your patience will send up a red flag and tell you it's not the right opportunity at the right time.
7. Create a comfortable company culture
As a startup founder, you’re not just building a company. You are also creating an environment that will ultimately become your company culture. To attract and retain the best talent, your work environment must make them feel happy to come to work.
Impatience at the top can lead to a culture that is aggressive and toxic, which makes all your employees feel uncomfortable. They may want to hide under their desks or leave altogether due to the stress that such a work environment creates.
In the long run, putting in the effort to practice patience will lighten up the company culture so your team members will stick with you. That means less time looking for new employees and training them. You’ll also save money and become a magnet for other top talent as you grow your business.
Be patient with others
Practicing patience builds on the existing benefits of entrepreneurship. If you are still considering how to become an entrepreneur, consider whether you need to work on being more patient.
Taking that deep breath, focusing on how to slow down, and thinking about what you can or should do before acting can help you make better decisions. In turn, those better decisions will improve your business and help you achieve your desired results.
By incorporating patience as a key ingredient of the virtues that make up your entrepreneurial spirit, you will be likelier to develop solid long-term relationships. This includes those you network with at entrepreneurship forums and industry events, the employees you hire and need to retain, investors, prospects, customers, and even media contacts.