As An Entrepreneur, Your Number One Job Is To Believe
I was talking with an old friend of mine today regarding his experience founding and building the leading business in a market segment he pioneered in Brazil, first in São Paulo, then throughout the country. Actually, I was interviewing him to get his insights for a book I am writing regarding peak performance and what it takes to achieve “greatness”.
During our discussion, he told me a very interesting story that illustrates the importance of believing that what you’re doing will work, will be successful, beyond a shadow of a doubt. The story starts with him moving to Brazil from Philadelphia after finishing school and wanting to continue his run as an entrepreneur. Before coming to Philadelphia for school, he had been a successful entrepreneur in the entertainment space in Paris. But now, here he was, moving to yet another country, recently married to a Brazilian woman and trying to figure out what business he could start that would be successful in Brazil. At the time, he barely spoke a word of Portuguese, which was going to make it very interesting as he tried to persuade prospective customers.
He found a partner with a similar background and a similar set of advantages and disadvantages, the most important of which were not knowing the language and having no idea how to build a business in the Brazilian setting. In case you’re not familiar, Brazil has been ranked as one of the most difficult places in the world to start a business, largely due to the massive bureaucracy and red tape involved. To complicate matters even more, the business he and his partner decided to start was in the healthcare space and had more than a tangential connection with doing business with government entities – yet more red tape. Another big challenge was that they were trying to bring a model that had been successful in the United States, but had no track record in Brazil. I guess you could say they really had the “deck stacked against them”. Despite this fact, based on their previous performance as successful entrepreneurs, they were able to attract startup capital and they did get their business going.
In order to be successful, given what they were learning about how business worked in Brazil, my friend relatively quickly realized that he would have to establish a distribution arrangement with one of the successful industrial families of Brazil that would be able to open doors for him. So, with his relatively weak, but steadily improving Portuguese, my friend began to contact families that were in businesses that could make sense. He made a lot of calls and heard “no” more times than he cares to admit, but due to his perseverance and belief in what he was doing, he pushed on. Finally, after about a year of denials and what at times felt like a hopeless battle, he met with a well known family that had a very strong distribution business with national reach. He gave his pitch and fortunately, after some hemming and hawing, it was accepted. To this day, six years later, even though his company has grown significantly in the meantime, this is my friend’s most important distributor and has been a tremendous ally in opening some important doors.
So now we get to the part about why, as an entrepreneur, believing, even when it seems no one else does, is your most important job. My friend was talking with this distributor the other day, in his now close to perfect Portuguese, and they were reminiscing about old times. The distributor was telling him that when they first met, he really understood very little about the niche my friend was going after and specifically what he was trying to do. BUT, he said, “I could see that you believed very strongly in what you were doing – your passion and belief came through in the way you communicated your ideas. So I took a chance. I really bet on you and the strength of your belief.” This is an example of where the strength of your belief in what you’re doing can make or break the success of your endeavor, whatever that endeavor may be, in your business or the rest of your life. Your belief comes through in everything you do and if it’s strong enough, is obvious to everyone with whom you interact.
The story has a very happy ending, as the niche my friend pioneered is now taking off in Brazil and my friend and his partner stand to do very well as a result, as due to their perseverance and belief, they are now positioned in front of the wave, as the number one provider in that space.
I look forward to your comments. Do you have an example where your belief or that of someone you know was the deciding factor in the success of a business or other endeavor?