In my recent conversations with young entrepreneurs, I’ve spotted a fundamental concern, one that might be a flaw we need to address, a flaw disguised as a virtue: Optimism!
In this context, I’ll like to call this ‘Reckless Optimism’. Optimism has been and remains a fundamental element to starting, owning and growing a great business. Optimism isn’t unhealthy as long as it is reasonable and calculated. One of the prevailing causes of failed businesses among young entrepreneurs today is reckless and blind optimism.
I hear them tell me all the ways that the new business idea will work, but they don’t tell me what they know about all the things that won’t let it work. They try to convince me that it’s a very safe idea, but safe ideas are not always great ideas. After all the elaborate lecture they give me on why they can’t fail, they come back a few months after and lament about why they are not responsible for the failure of the business. This is certainly after the inevitable, the crash land of the new business fueled by reckless optimism.
Nations do not ensure peace by preparing for peace. Nations ensure peace by preparing for war. Every civilized Nation plans and hopes for peace. One of the ways they do that is to build and equip an unbeatable and reliable armed defence or military. These armed forces range from the police, the army, the navy and the air force. Nations don’t build a reliable defence because they love war, on the contrary, civilized nations do so to ensure and promote the peace and safety for their citizens. Imagine for a second, a Nation that declares they are so certain of their safety and peace, they plan to abolish and disengage their police force, army and the rest of their armed forces; that is nothing short of reckless optimism. Sadly, this is how most people step into the arena of business. They are so certain of peace and tranquility, they never invest in their military or army.
Every successful business is like a nation that ensures peace by equipping for battle. Imagine with me again; a computer loaded with information and great apps without an antivirus or firewall. We don’t install the antivirus on our computers because we expect them to fail, we install the antivirus to ensure the computers don’t fail. African entrepreneurs must learn to engage an armed force and antivirus for new business startups. Never start a business for which you haven’t prepared for its failure. When you are prepared for it’s failure, you ensure it’s success.
Every business isn’t just like a nation that is prepared for battle, but every business is likened to a battle. Armies don’t go to war by preparing and training for victory.
Armies go to war by preparing to overcome the enemies and obstacles. The business world is a battle field. Businesses are like battles. Your business is to win in the battle of Business. The boot camp is not a place where warriors are trained to celebrate victories, the boot camp is designed with what is called ‘obstacle courses’. Various trainings designed to test one’s ability to overcome obstacles and endure hardships, drills that prepares the troop to overcome anything and everything the enemy can throw at them at the battle field.
All I’m trying to say is the new generation entrepreneurs should be optimistic and pessimistic at same time. Optimism says anything is possible and everything will work in my favor. Pessimism will ask what can go wrong and what are all the ways this deal can fail? The new generation entrepreneur must be prepared for the enemies as they expect victories. Dream big, plan big and be prepared for both big challenges and victories.
- Apeh Harrison Iwodi