The first time that I ever heard about grit was during my Junior Year at NYU in my Advanced Social Entrepreneurship class. As we modeled out our own prospective venture to save the world, my professor posed a two-fold question: “Will your solution work? And you?”
Are you cut out for success? Are you cut out for the inevitable challenges that you will face as an entrepreneur? Honestly, I had zero idea. Literally, zero.
Angela Duckworth left her consulting job to study individuals in challenging settings, always asking the same question: “Who is successful here and why?” From West Point Military Academy to the National Spelling Bee, one quality consistently emerged as a “significant predictor of success”. And you guessed it… it was grit. In her TEDTalk, she explains explicitly what she means by grit.
“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint.”
And while this explanation is somewhat cheesy, it also is absolutely true — especially for female entrepreneurs and small business owners. Ridden with too little sleep and too much coffee, constant uncertainty, and the omnipresent threat of failure, these women must possess the grit to push beyond the daily — and most certainly stress-inducing — grind.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners face lack of access to resources, employees, and financing. Most — at least in the beginning — have to allocate a majority of their time to handling the nitty-gritty of keeping their labor of love afloat. I mean, what entrepreneur would actually prefer to spend hours trolling the Internet trying to figure out how to get a small business loan, or attempting to understand the difference between APR and interest rate — especially when most individuals start a business because they want to pursue their passion.
However, in addition to all of the challenges mentioned above, female entrepreneurs and small business owners also encounter discrimination, stigmatization, and — what I would argue — an even higher degree of doubt (if that is even possible).
As a young woman, I find it not only inspiring, but SO FRICKIN’ COOL to see, hear, and learn from ladies making a name for themselves in their respective industries. Here are 10 inspiring quotes that capture the epitome of grit, the trials and tribulations of being a woman in business, and that I personally think sing to the tune of…
- “When do you know you’re successful? How do you know? The fact that we’re still here is a sign of our success. We are still inspired in what we do, and I think we’re still exciting people. I think it’s a really hard thing to measure. As New Yorkers and young business owners, we’re never going to want to coast. We’re always going to want to take things to the next level and try something new out to see where we can go with this crazy thing we call American Two Shot.” – Olivia Wolfe and Steph Krasnoff of American Two Shot
- “One important thing is to act as if. Act as if you aren’t the only woman in the room. Act as if your voice is heard. Act as if you’re a CEO even when you don’t know a balance sheet from a bed sheet. Half of getting there is having the confidence to show up and keep showing up.” – Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal
- “Sometimes when I’m mentoring people, I’ll say, “What’s your biggest dream?” and it will be something small and I’ll say: “Dream bigger. Just give yourself the ability to say, ‘I want something bigger,’ because who cares if you fail? Truly, who cares? So dream bigger because no one else is going to do it for you.” I also tell them about a filter I use to help me make decisions, which is, “When I’m 90, will I regret this?” When I was in undergrad, they did a study of 90-year-olds in the psychology lab. What they found is that no one ever regretted anything they did. They just regretted the things they didn’t do. That just gave me license to be bold.” – Alexa von Tabel of Learnvest
- “One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from my parents is to think of negativity as noise. Believe in yourself and what you're doing. Remember: If the most unique ideas were obvious to everyone, there wouldn't be entrepreneurs. The one thing that every entrepreneurial journey has in common is that there are many, many steps on the road to success.” – Tory Burch
- “With entrepreneurship there is this constant sense of — am I good enough? am I the right person? I think the people who succeed are the ones who say, I don’t know but I’ll figure it out. I’m going to start. I’m going to show up.” – Shiza Shahid of The Malala Fund
- “I think many entrepreneurs have a gift which can either be called naiveté or optimism. I think it’s a beautiful thing to have a blindness about your passion because it keeps you brave. It can really free you to not understand every aspect of what you’re setting out to do, or to not know the rules of engagement from an industry perspective. Maybe not every person is able to embrace that kind of naiveté, but that’s how people change the world.” – Katie Beauchamp of Birchbox
- “As an entrepreneur you don’t hear “No.” You have to see opportunity in every situation. I don’t think of “No” as a dead end, I think, “OK I have to fix this.” Self awareness is a really important part of this process — you have to know your weaknesses as well as your strengths.” – Payal Kadakia of ClassPass
- “Honestly, getting to work for myself is so fucking freeing, even on the worst days, it’s still really great. Getting to choose your own adventure is so wonderful. I’m not sure I would have ever taken the jump into entrepreneurship if I had had a good boss and worked at a good company that I liked and made a good salary. Being able to wake up every day and feel happy is my definition of freedom. I know the other side of that, and I would never want to go back.” – Kerin Rose Gold
- “Without sounding too airy-fairy, it’s important to listen to the universe. By that I mean there are situations and friendships that are guiding you towards the ultimate goal. I hit a point in my career where I knew it wasn’t working, but didn’t know which direction to move forward in. It was a matter of being open, using my skills and seizing that opportunity when it came along. You have to be able to see those opportunities and capitalize on them.” – Dee Poku of WIE Network
- “On a day-to-day level, it takes a lot of juggling for us to pursue this mission. Between farmer training, product development, export and shipping logistics, and marketing and outreach, there’s never a dull moment. And that’s some of what I love the most about this work — the challenges and the triumphs. I feel as though I’m exactly where I should be, making our dream into a reality and creating a new future for coffee, and the people who grow and love it.” – Noushin Ketabi of Vega Coffee (and my personal role model!)
Choosing a selection of 10 quotes was difficult — like difficult in that it took me a solid few hours, and some serious reflection, to narrow down. But on the flipside, what a good problem to have. It is so exciting that there ARE a ton of females — in their own respective industries — taking the entrepreneurial world by a storm, and making their voice be heard. These quotes are just a glimpse into what it means to be a #GirlBoss. These women are trailblazing, following their own gut, and encouraging others to find, and pursue, their very own passion. When the goings get tough — and they most certainly will — these words are a reminder that everyone who has made it, has been in the same, exact position. You will undoubtedly deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly when you start your own business. Grit is what will keep you going.