Luck Vs Hard Work: What’s Behind A Business Owner’s Success?

Colleen Thornton

You immediately had an answer, didn’t you? As a business owner, or starting entrepreneur, you have a lot to manage. Describing the journey as tough doesn’t even begin to cover all the challenges you face in the day to day operation of your business. Tough also speaks as much to your emotional involvement and commitment to your work as it does to the practicalities. As Shopify experts and ecommerce website specialists, we know that as rewarding as running an online business can be, it isn’t easy.


Running a business requires far more than just industry knowledge, business management skills, sales expertise, marketing know-how, and good communication (the list goes on!). That’s just the ongoing beginning. Meeting those demands and feeling personally invested in your work requires a regular dose of encouragement, inspiration, and persistence––what might be described as the softer, more subtle necessities of a successful business owner.

Let’s dig into the word persistence for a moment. Persistence is the “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” It’s the ability to meet challenges head on and find your way through them, whether they concern deadlines, cybersecurity, ranking, competition, or more generally, your own motivation––and that concerns every area of life, not just business.

Sounds like success is more about hard work than luck, doesn’t it? To motivate and encourage yourself to keep business operating smoothly and feel inspired enough to keep inventing new ideas means you have to be at the top of your game, all the time. No one’s paying you. No one’s training you. No one’s covering your butt so you can take a two-week holiday. No one is coming to save you when a pandemic spurs a terrifying economic downturn. 

Solopreneurship is all you - a realisation that is both intimidating and liberating. Even digging into resources, motivational blogs (ahem), and networking with others doesn’t really get to the heart of your business. Each business is a living, breathing enterprise with a unique set of challenges and rewards. There isn’t a standard operating procedure sitting on a store shelf somewhere made specifically for your business. You have to create it, and that requires you to roll up your sleeves and give it a little––or a lot of––elbow grease.

But running a successful business isn’t so much about what you do, it has a lot to do with the type of person you are. Are you committed to making the best use of your time? Are you easily distracted? How do you divide your attention between competing ideas and demands? Are you open to and optimistic about challenges? Are you able to receive and consider criticism? And perhaps most significant, how do you feel about change, and how do you navigate its unknown waters? 

What’s Luck Got To Do With Success?

Hard work starts with inspiration, which often comes in the form of luck. So, when we get right down to it, hard work and luck are inseparable. They’re part of a feedback loop in which one constantly inspires the other. Luck is what happens to you (for that matter, so too does misfortune). Hard work is what you do when luck comes knocking at your door. But there’s a third element that speaks to both: expression.

Let’s consider how genes work for a moment. We’re born with anywhere between 20,000-25,000 of them and they’re our blueprint for life. That is, they tell our cells how and when to behave in response to outside stimuli. For a long time, science told us that we were condemned to the unique set of genes with which we were born, the luck of the draw, so to speak. While that’s true in terms of eye colour, predisposition to particular diseases, and nose size, we’re now discovering that how genes are expressed has a lot to do with our environment, and in the most simple terms, how we respond to our environment. 

Now map this idea to business: the luck you receive has a lot to do with your response to it. You can’t rely on luck as an external, at-your-mercy deliverance. For the most part, you create your own luck through what you do when it falls out of the heavens and into your lap. (“Here ya go, now it’s up to you”). 

Most successful people will tell you that when life hands you lemons…. don’t just collect them all in the fruit basket on your counter expecting the lemonade genie to burst forth and squeeze you out a margarita at happy hour. Acknowledge the gift of lemons and then do something with them. That margarita, or perhaps, limoncello, is an expression of your acknowledgment of your responsibility to luck. Expression is like the motor of that feedback loop, the influence of your hard work on the arrival of luck, again and again.

The Voices Of Success

Below are some wise insights about luck and hard work from experienced, successful entrepreneurs. Though distinct in their expression, each one recognises a core truth about luck and hard work: one motivates the other. 

“You make your own luck for the most part.” Australia-based digital marketer and Amazon specialist, Michael Galvin shares his take on the mutual relationship between luck and hard work: “My partner says I'm lucky and that a lot of my success has just fallen into my lap. But I think great things come to me because I have done the networking. I've talked to the right people, and then they think of me and bring me work (money). I make the effort to get close to certain people, and... in the end... business is about building relationships. You make your own luck for the most part.”

Thailand-based online business owner, Joe Kenny of Priority Chef writes, “luck will only get you so far, hard work will finish the job.” 

Bryan Davis is the Founder of the “best fitted shirt on the planet.” His New York based e-commerce company has achieved incredible success, in part because his product is brilliant, but also because he has an unfaltering commitment to his core value. He explains:

“We actually engrave Courage and Luck on all of our buttons. Teddy Stratford’s core value is Freedom and we consider both Courage and Luck to be essential to achieve Freedom… Hard work along with an open creative mind are precursors to luck. If you aren’t in action and don’t recognize that you’ve gotten lucky or know what to do with it then luck is relatively worthless. That said, luck is also essential along the path. Without it you can grind forever and never get any closer to freedom or success- whatever that may mean to you.” 

(Check out the story behind the best fitted shirt on the planet here).

Proud Canadian, Joel Davies of Logical Mix writes: “The key quality I believe you need as an entrepreneur is perseverance.”

Lastly, German software developer, Philipp Georges, offers this thoughtful and evocative insight:

“Every lasting success, whether in business or personal life, is the result of hard and persistent work. The luck to have the right ideas, to choose the right time, to be surrounded by the right people, is not always in your hands. If you persistently pursue something, things can turn out to be lucky and helpful at some point. And sometimes, failure is lucky, because it gives us the opportunity to learn to start over. Maybe luck is not a currency for success, but rather the indication that you’re on the right track.” - Philipp, Software Developer.

You’re not afraid of hard work, but you’ve had your fair share of luck too. As a Shopify Plus agency, we help a lot of entrepreneurs make heads or tails of ecommerce development. We also work with seasoned business owners that want to take their enterprise to the next level. Whatever stage you’re at, we can help. Book your free strategy session today

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