Category: Risk

“If you’re too afraid to mess up, you’re too afraid to do better.” – Coach K

A few good things happen when we try and fail.

  1. We learn what doesn’t work
  2. We learn where our boundaries are (so we can break them)
  3. We get stronger
  4. We have better stories.  (no one talks about the vacations where everything was perfect.)
  5. We go farther than we thought we could
  6. We try new things
  7. We realize there are few things in life that result in being killed and eaten (tip to Bill Bryson)

Being comfortable is good for a while but you get soft if you don’t try for more.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

 

 

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“Prediction requires the identification of a pattern that repeats, because a pattern is what allows you to use what has happened to infer what will happen next.” – Michael Raynor

And this is precisely the problem with startups.  By definition, a startup is new.  It’s never been done before.  There are no patterns.  There is no history. You can;t predict what comes next.

This translates to risk which scares people.  It’s why bankers won’t let you borrow money against your own house to start a new venture.  You don’t yet fit nicely in a spreadsheet.

This is why it’s so important to get to first customers and quickly as possible.  It is the single best thing you can do to mitigate risk.  Sell what you have a soon as possible, even if it is not perfect.  Once you have customers, they will lead to in the direction of perfection.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

 

“Black bears rarely attack. But here’s the thing. Sometimes they do…” – Bill Bryson

“Black bears rarely attack. But here’s the thing. Sometimes they do. All bears are agile, cunning and immensely strong, and they are always hungry. If they want to kill you and eat you, they can, and pretty much whenever they want. That doesn’t happen often, but—and here is the absolutely salient point—once would be enough.” ― A Walk in the Woods

There are always good reasons not to go for a walk in the woods.  Bears may be the least of them.  Still, there’s only one way to see a sunset from remote mountaintop.   Adventurers know the risks and take the appropriate measures to hike safely.

There are always good reasons not to follow through with your startup idea.  There are bears in these woods too True entrepreneurs know the risks and take appropriate measures to realize their dream.

 

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Don’t get into a spaceship with a madman. Hasn’t anybody ever told you that?” – Dr. Who

…and yet, given the chance, most people can’t pass up an opportunity to venture out into the unknown universe through space and time. We want to know what really happened and we want to know how it’s going to turn out.  At least that’s how it works on the TARDIS.

Now, entrepreneurship…

The future is unknown.  The challenges may kill the company… but then you may change history.  And it takes a little madness to leave a comfortable job with the perception of security to climb on board the entrepreneur ship.

We all have risk.  Entrepreneurs, and time travelers, confront and embrace it.

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“The industrial age brought compliance and compliance brought fear and fear brought us mediocrity.” – Seth Godin

Great quote today from Seth Godin’s blog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com

We were taught from an early age that we are to behave in certain ways and believe certain things and dress in certain clothes.  This was all in preparation for a world that promised lifetime employment and being part of something bigger than oneself.

Loyalty was rewarded with promotions and annual bonuses.  Conformity was valued over creativity.  And if our children had trouble with this, there were medications available that helped them keep quiet and walk in a straight line.

If the rewards didn’t entice you to stay inside the box, then the fear of what would happen if you did was terrifying.  Loss of income and benefits, status and lifestyle were all threatened.  I remember buying my first home.  I told my supervisor and he said “That’s great.  The more in-debt you are, the more you love working for (insert your favorite corporation)”.  Thus the interstate highway to mediocrity was paved.

Now the truth is on the table.  We all have risk.  Sixteen years of dedicated employment is a negative on the income statement.  Traditional employment is going away.

HOWEVER!  We are all free now!  Free to think for ourselves.  Free to come up with great ideas and see if others would benefit from them.  Free to pursue wealth from our efforts – for ourselves.

And freedom from mediocrity.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Weight comes from fear” – Unknown

One of the foundations of backpacking is to eliminate weight.  Doing so helps you hike faster, farther and more pleasant.

The things that add weight come mostly from fear.  If you are afraid you will be cold, you carry more clothes and heavier sleeping gear.  If you are afraid you’ll go hungry or thirsty, you carry more food and water. If you’re afraid to spend too much money, you get cheap (heavier) gear.  Going lightweight requires much planning and a tolerance for risk and discomfort.  But the potential rewards are breathtaking.  You get to go places and have experiences that very few people can.

For the entrepreneur, we could say that “Wait comes from fear”.  If you are afraid to run out of money, you might wait to start your company.  If you are afraid to release the wrong product or perhaps of failure itself, you might wait.

Starting a company, like backpacking requires planning and a tolerance for risk and discomfort.  In each case, you know that obstacles may arise and you adapt.  You also know that if everything goes wrong, the chances of dying are extremely small.

But oh, the places you will see; the stories you will tell.

“I wouldn’t change a thing, even the epic professional disasters, …” – Seth Godin

“…because every one of them is responsible for what I get to do now, and I can’t imagine a better gig.”

I just finished Seth Godin’s book, “The Icarus Deception”.  On the surface it’s about artists and the creation of art but it’s really about taking risks and how we have been indoctrinated over our lives to fear risk and in particular the opinions of other people.

Learning and perspective come through failure and failure is not usually fatal, in any sense.  Making art is about changing the status quo, and isn’t that really what entrepreneurs are all about; changing the world?

Read “The Icarus Deception” by Seth Godin

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Be captain of your destiny, not prisoner of wishful thinking.” – Dharmesh Shah

I was intrigued by an  article I read recently about a college business class assignment.  Each team was given $5 to start a business and operate it for a few hours.  Success was determined by how much total revenue was generated.  The teams could plan all they wanted but once they opened the envelope with the money in it, a time clock started.

The interesting thing is that the best ideas (most profitable) were from those teams that didn’t spend any of the money.  In other words, they started with $0 capital.  The winning team generated $600 on a Saturday night.  The problem they solved? Wait times at popular restaurants.

There are problems that need a solution everywhere!  Entrepreneurs are the ones who decide to do something about it.

“Failure is always an option” – Mythbusters

My nephew, wore a tee shirt the other day with this quote on it.  By the way, it was black with a very simple white line of text.

Entrepreneurs fail.  It’s part of the deal.  Those who don’t fail never take any risks.  They stay comfortably in the crowd until one day, they are notified their services are no longer needed.

You need to try things that fail.  You will learn more.  You will find out what matters.  When you find out what matters, you might change the world.

Thanks for the quote, Matthew!