Being an entrepreneur and starting your own business can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, but also one of the most challenging and complicated ones. Certainly, entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.
There will be days, especially in the beginning, when you’ll feel like throwing in the towel and simply calling it quits. You will continually get punched in the mouth; you will frequently question whether you have what it takes; and you will likely watch as family and friends lose their faith in you, letting you know in no uncertain terms that they think you are crazy.
But despite all this, I believe that if you can weather the storms and move forward amid the adversity crossing your path, you’ll be in a much better position to win and come out victorious. Regardless of your journey, it’s imperative that to be a successful entrepreneur, you’ll have to overcome adversity and learn how to thrive in times of uncertainty. When the going gets incredibly tough, that’s when you become that much closer to creating transformational breakthroughs. It’s in the struggle that amazing breakthroughs are to be found, waiting to erupt.
Given this theme of adversity, I recently sat down with Lorenzo Marquez, former vice president of marketing for Cosentino and now the founder and president of Marqet Group, a full-service marketing agency servicing the design and construction industry and stone fabrication in particular.
Marquez not only made the jump into entrepreneurship and successfully started his own business, he also overcame an astounding number of hardships and setbacks throughout his journey when the unthinkable happened. Houston-based Marqet Group was growing in exposure, client base, team members and — most important — revenue, he told me. “All of those start-up fears started fading away,” he said.
The team had expanded to ten people in just five months, including graphic and web designers, account managers, copywriters and event and merchandising coordinators. “Things were going the way any aspiring entrepreneur would dream of,” Marquez said.
Then, the night of August 26, 2017, happened. As Marquez told me, “Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast and completely shattered every sense of security, not only business wise, but also personally as well.”
The next morning, he and his wife and their five children, with the youngest being only three months, plus their dog, had to be evacuated by boat to an apartment complex nearby with very minimal food and water available. The food and water that was available had to be shared by all of the families evacuated from nearby homes. The children were terrified, and, Marquez said, he began to let doubt win the battle in his mind. “My sense of stability and security was shaken to the core,” Marquez said. “The fear of losing everything had now become a reality.”
He and his family experienced the complete loss of their home, belongings, and cars. “Everything was swept away, as our home sat with 5 feet of water inside for close to two weeks.”
Marquez knew that he had to stay strong for his children. Not only was his family counting on him; so were his team members at work.
With his back against the wall, Marquez made sure his family was safe, then turned to his employees and clients. Things were bad there too: His office building was flooded for weeks and employees were scattered, trying to deal with their own losses.
But Marquez refused to put his business on the back burner. Facing the hardest time of his life, Marquez was able to regrow his business and achieve extraordinary heights.
Here are three things that Marquez said he executed on to turn an extreme tragedy into an incredible breakthrough while at the same time growing a majorly successful business. These are three actionable ideas and strategies that you can implement into your own life and business to help you turn failure and adversity into a gift.
1. Feel the fear; then take action.
Fear is real and will always be present in your life as an entrepreneur. If you don’t ever experience fear, that means you aren’t consistently stepping out of your comfort zone and going after your biggest goals and dreams.
Where many people go wrong has nothing to do with fear itself, but with how they react to the fear. As Marquez told me, “Fear attacked me when I first wanted to start my own business; then it tried to completely take over my life when Hurricane Harvey hit. I was more scared than I have ever been in my life, but I also knew that this major adversity carried a monumental opportunity along with it.”
Marquez’s message is, the next time you feel a lot of fear, don’t fight it. Acknowledge that it’s there and then take action. The best way to fight your fears is to use consistent and massive action, even if you feel that you aren’t ready to do that.
Marquez told me, “Looking back on that horrific experience, I can honestly say that the most beneficial thing that I did for both my family and business was to develop the courage to take action despite all the fear that was attacking me.” In other words, breakthroughs occur when you look your fears straight on and develop the courage to take action.
Here are two exercises that have greatly helped me overcome my fears and not let them paralyze me from moving forward.
2. Create a crystal-clear vision.
Vision is everything. If you can’t see yourself achieving it, it will never happen. Not only that, but creating a crystal-clear vision is critical in being able to overcome the short-term disappointments. Marquez told me: “There is no way that my business would have survived if it wasn’t for the clear and massive vision that I created. Every single time I felt like quitting, I pictured my family happy and safe while my business was thriving and serving the community.”
Whether it’s overcoming a personal tragedy as Marquez had to do, or moving forward despite the hardships you encounter in entrepreneurship, a clear vision is the starting point for all high success.
If you haven’t done so already, visualize what your ideal business and life looks like this week. Write that vision down, share it with others, then work the vision every waking moment. There is nothing more powerful than getting clear on what you want your life and business to stand for, then making that that a reality.
3. Develop a strong and positive support system.
Building a business can often be a lonely experience, especially in the early stages. Marquez told me, “I never knew how important a strong and positive support system truly was until my family and I were being rescued by boat when we lost our home.
“As the days and weeks went on, it was the support system that I had developed over the years that ultimately kept me going.” He continued: “It was everyone, from friends and family to customers, who were constantly in my ear reminding me how powerful I am and that my family would without a doubt overcome this tragedy. They really helped me to believe that this negative experience would somehow turn into a positive.”
Marquez is a perfect example of how critical a support system is for entrepreneurs. Not only is building your business daunting and challenging, but that happens amid the hard times of life that also unexpectedly pop up.
The School of Social Work at the University at Buffalo has expressed ideas on why a strong support system is so important and how to cultivate one. Something that has worked exceptionally well for me, personally, is to try to pick one specific support person for each area of my life. I have people to whom I can turn when it comes to business, health, relationships and spiritual support.
The story of Marquez and his family overcoming devastating loss in the face of Hurricane Harvey is just one example of thousands of brave Houstonians who exemplified what true courage and strength look like. Theirs was an example that we as entrepreneurs can all learn from.
What impressed me the most about Marquez’s story is that he didn’t stop growing his business even when he and his family lost absolutely everything they owned. That’s the type of obsession, perseverance and courage it takes to achieve greatness as an entrepreneur.
How has life changed for the Marqet Group since the hurricane? The business just moved into a new 3,000-square-foot office, continues to grow its team and has seen its revenue hit a record high.
I hope this story of persevering in the face of adversity inspires you to take full responsibility for your own business and life. It’s a prime illustration of how you truly are the driver of your own destiny regardless of how tough times may become.