The entrepreneurial spirit, always deeply rooted in American culture, has ratcheted up that much more in recent years, in the wake of the pandemic and the resultant “Great Resignation,” which saw an average of nearly four million workers depart their jobs each month in 2021.

Among them there are, no doubt, those who have conjured up new ideas and envisioned new possibilities. Those who believe that their product or service could fill a need or fill a niche. Those who believe that a pivot could help them find greater fulfillment or greater financial security. offered three examples in February 2022. There was Chelsea Kidd, who in January 2021 stepped down from her job in corporate wellness to found a consultancy, SiteWell Solutions, in the same field. There was Isaac Medeiros, a Los Angeles resident who turned his side hustle of selling miniature Japanese swords into a full-time gig. And there was Jennifer Sutton, who stepped down from her job as an advertising executive in March 2021 to open the Guest Haus Juicery in Park City, Utah.

All of them success stories. All of them willing to take a leap that was, as Sutton told CNBC, “a little scary.”

As someone who embarked on a similar journey – albeit in 2012, two years after graduating from college – I can confirm that the entrepreneurial journey is a little scary. There are long days and dark nights. There are triumphs and disasters. There are doubts and hurdles. But if you’re smart, determined and agile, you can make it happen.

In my case, I pivoted from an office job at Ford Motor Company to found a basketball team – the Grand Rapids Drive (now the Gold) in the NBA Development League (now the G-League), which began play in 2014. I remain team president, while also becoming CEO of an advertising agency called Atomic Honey and Chief Strategy Officer of an AI software company called WaitTime, both based in Detroit, and CSO of a CO2 technology firm called Air Company, based in Brooklyn.

It is always a leap of faith to strike out on one’s own. Just for starters, you’re going from a regular paycheck and benefits to living on a wing and a prayer. But people are increasingly willing to take that chance, while at the same time knowing there are no guarantees of success. The CNBC piece cites Census Bureau data showing that a record 5.4 million new-business applications were filed in 2021, but also cites information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that 20 percent of new businesses fail within the first year. Also cited was one more statistic, equally sobering, from the Federal Reserve: The number of business failures between March 2020 and February 2021 was about 200,000 greater than usual.

So you’ve got to believe. Somehow you’ve got to believe. That’s not always easy, but it’s a necessity. I can recall reading a 2019 piece by a man named Omar Itani, who one year earlier left a job at Google to start Lovers of the Sea, a company dedicated to raising awareness of plastic pollution. In it he emphasized that the three qualities essential to entrepreneurs are “unparalleled self-belief, a willpower of commitment, and an ability to really cut back and sacrifice for a greater ambition.”

I couldn’t agree more. I know too many people who have embarked on entrepreneurial journeys, only to pull the plug when they discovered that somebody else had begun marketing a similar product. Honestly, I don’t see that as a reason to bail. There’s nothing wrong with having Coke and Pepsi, nothing wrong with a little competition. It can bring out the best in everybody, lead you to narrow your focus, to redouble your efforts.

The other thing is, you have to be coachable. Typically a lot of people want to help you out, so it’s essential to be receptive to them, and open to new ideas. I’ve noticed the entrepreneurs that don’t make it usually have a bit of an ego problem or believe they can go it alone. And that’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

I learned that for myself when I was trying to get my basketball team off the ground. Because we didn’t have an office, I spent my days working out of a Grand Rapids bar called Founders Brewing Company. As I sat there one afternoon, hunched over my laptop and looking, I’m sure, incredibly stressed out, a businessman named Jeff Royce approached and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was trying to figure out a way to get people to invest in the team. That piqued his interest, since he was a hoops junkie.

Then he asked me where I was set up. 

“My car,” I said.

He offered office space at the tech incubator he ran in town, and introduced me to a potential investor. He also helped me sharpen my pitching skills, to understand that getting a “no” was just an opportunity to work on your craft. Which I did.

Before too long, one investor became two, two became six and six became 10. Things just really snowballed, and in the end, 487 people invested in the team.

The point being that I could have just brushed Jeff off when he sidled up to me in Founders Brewing Company. But opening up to him opened up all kinds of possibilities. So it bears repeating: No one truly goes it alone. Everybody needs a helping hand or two.

To sum up, entrepreneurship is an often-challenging path. For every step forward, you will frequently find yourself taking one step back. There will be hardship and heartache, sorrow and sacrifices. But if you really believe in yourself and your idea, you will keep grinding. You will find a way to solve the many problems confronting you, and find people who share your vision. And in the end, it will all be worth it.

Originally published on Forbes>>