Success is not linear & preparing for the downside

About a year ago, I was sitting for coffee with a friend and business mentor while discussing success and how to achieve it.

There was one theme that kept popping up. Success isn’t linear. This post and the message within is for someone today who may be going through tough entrepreneurial times.

Let me rewind… when one ventures off to do some business on their own, they are making a conscious (or unconscious) decision to be stripped from job security and the insulation involved in said traditional careers.

Once the risk is assumed and the insulation ripped off, cold and bitter markets test the entrepreneurs ability to produce new value, match existing value for a better price, or take their slice of a localized product or service.

Further, making the decision to go it alone, quickly illuminates that one is paid to produce value for a specific group of stakeholders. If they cannot do so efficiently and or better than the competition, the “business” will not last.

So why does this all matter?

Well, success is not linear. Unlike a traditional job with raises that may match or exceed traditional inflation rates, business owners can grow at astronomical rates or struggle to grow at all.

In fact, some entrepreneurs get lucky in spite of themselves in the beginning, while other equally talented, determined, and otherwise hard working entrepreneurs miss the boat. Or at least miss the first boats!

The bright side is that an entrepreneur only has to be right once. Once they can position themselves properly (preferable in a growing industry or market segment) and provide a unique service… there is exponentially greater opportunity than when working for an employer.

In Nassim Taubs book “Black Swan,” he ventures to discuss how we should prepare for the downside and hope for the upside. Another optimist note for entrepreneurs is that burn rates, or the rate at which cash is burned, is very measurable.

Even a venture that is burning cash quickly can measure projected expenses within reason and make adequate preparations to address these diminishing resources.

In conclusion, one may benefit from protecting for the downside, controlling expenses, and continuing to press forward providing unique value for a small group of stakeholders (customers) until product market fit / service market fit it met to produce returns and lifestyle design more attractive than traditional job perks and sterile compensation.

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