And when you shouldn’t.
Every business owner is, to an extent, stubborn. You probably wouldn't get very far in business if you weren't. Most new ideas are met with resistance, even the best ones.
When shopping carts were first invented, grocery stores had to hire models to push the carts around so customers would see them, stop being afraid of something different than their hand-held baskets, and start using them. The customers were being stubborn out of fear. The store owners were being stubborn out of a need to increase profits.
Some stubbornness comes from ego. I've sadly watched companies close their doors over the past few years because they refused to try anything new when it came to business. Their newer, younger competitors used social media so to them taking a class on it was a step down, an acknowledgement that someone else may have been doing something that worked better. Digging their heels in because of ego left them ill-prepared to weather the storm when the economy and consumer habits shifted and many suffered irreparable damage to their businesses.
Other stubbornness comes from real vision — a gut feeling that what you are working on is a big idea that has legs even when others don't see it. To me, this stubbornness is valid. It brings a willingness to be misunderstood for a while, a willingness to allow others to think you're just wasting your time. In the end, however, you have great results because you stuck it out.
The trick is being honest with yourself about where your stubbornness is coming from. Is it based on a dream that you believe can become reality or is it based on fear and ego?
Don't underestimate the power of your ego as it will kill your business faster than anything else. Conversely, never doubt your ability to justify. Labeling each idea as not worthy to be pursued and never being stubborn about your valid ideas will also kill your business by causing you to stagnate.
Originally published July 2011