In these unprecedented times of (using the word unprecedented) economic uncertainty and an aging workforce threatened by remote/younger workforce options, entrepreneurship could be explored as a promising career path, particularly for older adults with 15+ years of experience in the corporate world. However, we have often seen that corporate professionals are more plagued by indecisiveness and inertia than others who have been entrepreneurs.
This begs the question – why? Let’s attempt to understand the reasoning.
Failure is (mostly) frowned upon in the corporate world.
In general, when facing difficult choices at work which could end up in failure, many corporate professionals are hesitant to take the risk and prefer not to do anything. Inactivity may be attractive because it gives the illusion that one is less responsible for harmful outcomes, or because it buys time to see how their transition impacts other aspects.
As a result, one feels as if the risks can be eluded by picking options that appear to be omitting participation with the due course of events. This propensity for inaction can thus be explained by reference-dependent preferences: the disutility from culpability for actions/decisions with undesirable outcomes is greater than the utility from rewards for actions/decisions with desirable outcomes as compared to the reference point of inaction.
It is often claimed that the entrepreneurial mindset is perennially curious. This is because Curiosity is an opposing force to blaming inertia or coming up with excuses for avoidance and can actually lead to taking more action. One can therefore argue that entrepreneurs are less prone to inaction because they exhibit a greater tendency for explorative search, action and curiosity and are less failure-averse than others. Afterall, entrepreneurs thrive on failure.
Fail fast, but learn faster.
The real aim of failing fast is not to fail, but to learn from failure and not repeat those same mistakes. Success is essentially moving from one failure to another without the inherent loss of motivation. It’s not enough to be self-aware. You have to manage your strengths and weaknesses the right way.
Delegation is a double-edged sword.
Delegation, done correctly and wisely can be the difference between the success and failure of a venture. One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is that every day is different – but for a lot of entrepreneurs, that also means you end up doing a bit of everything. However, doing everything for your business can also mean you spend too much time on the day-to-day tasks and not enough time focusing on growing your business.
On the flip side, delegating everything to others and failing to act is the worst thing that can nuke success (unless you have a sucker on the team who can do everything for you)
The pain of regret is more than the pain of failure
Hang on… But failure is traumatic and with every failure – time is lost during the act of failure and recovering from it.
Correct – However, real entrepreneurs realise that the only risk they are not taking is not taking any risk at all… hence, weighing the two risks, they are prepared to take the pain of failure than live with the pain of regret. Man’s propensity to avoid discomfort is the greatest obstacle to his growth. Very few can break out of the shell of comfort. Most draw back immediately whenever they venture out. Some never even try to get out. Comfort is an insidious psychological prison, hence difficult to break.
But that in the grand scheme of things, the time spent on the failure and recovery pave the path for faster success in their next ventures.
Importance of Time
Time is the only real capital anyone has. It is also the only asset we are almost criminally negligent about. There is no greater wonder and tragedy than our endless capacity for procrastination. Forgetting one’s mortality is the original sin that begets all other sins. Entrepreneurs know that time is the most valuable resource they have because it is not renewable. Life is too short to waste in inaction. It is better to try and fail, than fail to try.
Compounded effects of Micro-actions
Entrepreneurs understand that daily actions at a micro-level have a cumulative compounded effect on the outcomes at the macro-level.
Whether you’re a founder or not, adopting a founder’s mentality might be the difference between performing and outperforming your competitors. If you are comfortable as you are, you are going nowhere. Being addicted to the status quo is the greatest hindrance to personal growth. The power of human intent is unimaginable.
Most people dream of success and there are a few who wake up each morning and make it happen! The greatest and the most persistent blockages to your progress in life usually come from a single source – yourself.
As Confucius said: “We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”
About the author:
24x Founder, 3x Success, 2x VCExit, 19x Failure, 100x Resilient, 14x Sectors, 6x Continents, $2+bn deals originated and advised.
Keshav is an eclectic value creator for mid-sized firms and PE/VC funds on fundraising, M&A, growth, corporate strategy and deal-making (currently, as co-founder of Adan Corporate). He is a resourceful entrepreneur with 20+ years of global experience in building businesses from a concept and growing global teams from 2 to 200+.
A deca-lingual, multi-talented zymurgist, Keshav is skilled at using the founder’s mentality and thrives in uncertainty and chaos, directing teams through the “Unknown” in the initial 1-2 years of setting up any type of new venture.
As an Entrepreneur Mentor in Residence (EMiR), Keshav is associated with London Business School’s experiential entrepreneurship activities supporting students and alumni who are interested in pursuing a career in entrepreneurship, whether launching or growing their own ventures.