I constantly get this feeling that other people tend to think that what I have achieved has been a fluke of some kind and that I have thus been extremely lucky to have gotten as far as I have until now. This is even evident in my own dad’s opinion that I have been extremely blessed and that I should feel very privileged to have these blessings. In short, I realize that I’ve been very blessed until now and I could seriously not have scripted the growth in my own reputation & following and that of WooThemes (which seems to go hand-in-hand with my own & vice-versa) any more beneficial to myself. I also know (and believe) that the lucky aspect of some people’s opinions are only true if you consider that I was at the right place, at the right time AND I had the guts to pursue my ideas within that opportunity at all costs. So whilst there is an obvious element of “luck” or being blessed, I will never discount my own contributions in pursuing my dreams & ambitions.
I’m a firm believer in hard work and I can remember my dad telling (when I quit my corporate job to pursue & grow WooThemes) that “there would be no harder boss, than the boss you’ll be to yourself” and I didn’t really understand what he meant. Almost two years down the line now, I can say that I’ve experienced day-in & day-out what he meant with that. When you work for yourself, you’re on your own and you take responsibility for your own career, income & life. There’s no one that’s gonna give you a pay cheque at the end of the month, if you were a lazy during that month. But this bit of freelancing or being a business owner has been publicized many times over already and I’d prefer to focus on another angle: working hard, because you want to.
See, I think I’m an extremely ambitious guy and new ideas (some of them pretty good; others pretty shit) come to me easily. Combine these two and you have an overactive brain that never really stops working (hence why I’ve needed to force myself to go offline) and the only way to fuel that line of thinking is to put in the hours. This means that I spend a massive chunk of my day in front of my computer and it’s pretty much routine for me to work until 11 / 12 at night (this after I start working at 6:30 / 7 in the mornings). I’m sure some people will say that working this hard is ridiculous (in some situations they’d be correct, but more on that just now), but working hard at achieving your goals & dreams is the only way to really influence whether you are gonna be successful or not (as individuals, we definitely can’t control / influence everything and being lucky / blessed thus helps a bit, irrespective of working darn hard).
I’ve encountered too many people (online & off) who think that success comes easy and that a great idea is the only ingredient needed to guarantee a successful business. I’m however willing to bet that an individual / company with a lesser idea, but a better work ethic will trump the geniuses and their groundbreaking ideas every single time. I recently finished reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, in which the author explores the reasons for success. Throughout the book it is evident that there are a little bit more at play in terms of being successful and that natural-born talent is only one of the many ingredients that can bake you a successful cake. Anyway, you should read the book yourself, but I wanted to quote a Chinese Proverb from the book:
“No one who can rise before dawn, 360 days a year, fails to make his family rich.”
When I first saw the proverb, I read and re-read it, as at first glance I understood it was powerful, but I wasn’t sure how I related to this. The more I read it though, the more I could see the power of this mindset in my own life. I’ve never been afraid to work hard and I believe that what I’ve achieved in my life is a direct result of the hard work I’ve put back into it. I don’t think that WooThemes is the most special company with the most groundbreaking ideas ever, but when I look at myself and the team around me, I know that we are for sure one of the hardest working companies you are gonna find anywhere in the world. And it’s exactly that mistake that most that people make when starting their own business: they just don’t work hard enough.
There is absolutely no substitute for hard work when you’re trying to build your own business. Not only will you fuel the growth momentum of your business via hard work, but your customers will also see the effort that goes into the business (and the benefits & kudo’s of that should be obvious). In my opinion, this is how you “earn your wings” and the right to call yourself an entrepreneur; just having a great idea isn’t good enough. Ultimately: if you don’t like hard work, then rather don’t go into business for yourself.