9 Tough (and Necessary) Lessons Entrepreneurs Must Learn

UPDATED: May 20, 2024
PUBLISHED: September 6, 2021
9 Tough (and Necessary) Lessons Entrepreneurs Must Learn

Trust yourself first.

I learned that you have to trust yourself, rely on your instincts, and believe in yourself, regardless of others’ resistance, doubts or negativity.

—Nancy Ganz, author, mediator and negotiator

Persist—then keep on persisting.

The word no is much better than the word maybe. Persistence of vision is key. That, coupled with trusting your gut and knowing when to go all in and when to let go.  

—Marisa Polvino, co-founder and producer at Straight Up Impact

Handle rejection with grace.

As you go through your entrepreneurial journey, you will inevitably come across rejection from people you respect and admire. The toughest lesson I’ve learned has been to handle this constant rejection and continue to have conviction in the things I believe in.

—Olivia Landau, founder and CEO of The Clear Cut

Be patient.

I’m a get-it-done-now type of person, so one of the toughest lessons I’ve learned is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. In order to achieve something great or develop an innovative product, it takes time and patience. It cannot be done overnight.

—Ann McFerran, founder and CEO of Glamnetic

It takes sacrifice.

The toughest lesson I’ve learned by being an entrepreneur is the price that is often paid for launching a startup with friends. You must be willing to sacrifice a meaningful relationship with someone you care about at the expense of building the company. Nobody guarantees success.

—Gilad Shamri, CEO and founder of GrowthArtists.com

Responsibility accompanies freedom.

That with freedom comes great responsibility. It’s amazing to be in charge of your own schedule—to realize your unique visions and to not have to report to a boss. But at the end of the day, keeping a company afloat requires a significant amount of patience, endurance and authenticity.

—Rachel Lipson, CEO and founder of Blue Balloon Songwriting for Small People

Stay humble.

Entrepreneurship is the ultimate lesson in humility. When you run a business, you eventually learn that your people and your customers are critical to not only the company’s survival, but also its growth.

—Maria Thimothy, consultant with OneIMS


One of my biggest challenges has been learning to delegate to others. As a founder, your business is your everything, which sometimes leads to you wanting to handle matters on your own. As my company began to grow, I quickly realized we would not be able to succeed if I could not lean on my employees.

—Parisa Fowles-Pazdro, CEO and founder of maxbone

Learn true communication.

I’ve learned that there are three important things you need to constantly practice as an entrepreneur: communicating, listening, and asking questions. Appreciate that you will be wrong more than you will be right; the trick is to be right just enough.

—Bing Howenstein, CEO of all33

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2021 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo by

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