If you have owned a business before, you must be well acquainted with the numerous risks that come with it. These come in various forms from the moment you wake up in the morning: you are meeting creditors and investors to fund the business, you are marketing your products and services, struggling to pay your workers, satisfying the wants of your customers, or delivering your products.
Things are tough when you are running your business – but, in every difficult task, there are always people that will shine through because of their high suitability in dealing with the seemingly ‘hard things’.
These are the types of entrepreneurs that use the difficult aspects of their job and turn them into advantages that work for them. Instead of struggling through the obstacles, you could say that it energizes them and makes them more determined to succeed. They do have a secret though, as they inherently know the methods for acting and understanding the obstacles that life throws at them.
In a time such as this, when we are facing the COVID-19 crisis every day and its economic effects, it is important to take some of their strategies and apply them – for the sake of your business. Even one of the visionary entrepreneurs, Pravin Shah, believes that this could be a right time for many businesses to enhance their growth by digitizing it. Using a few examples of exemplary entrepreneurs, I hope to encourage you to weather the storms that today’s life poses to you.
One of the most famous entrepreneurs who eventually grew an empire was John D. Rockefeller. Coming from a struggling family in Ohio, raised by a single mother, and working hard to raise money to take care of his family, he eventually got his first job – but the infamous Panic of 1857 occurred after less than five years in this job, and he eventually faced hardships.
However, he did not let this overpower him – instead, he chose to see things differently and see opportunities wherever he went. Opportunity soon found him in the oil business, and he became a millionaire within 20 years of that incident, with his wealth growing as the years went by.
The lesson we can learn is to stay cool, even in times of crisis. Even when the hardships you face attempt to cloud your thinking, you can train yourself to look for new opportunities in times of hardship – because they are always there.
Challenge yourself to think differently
You think that things ‘cannot be done’, just because the logical implication tells you so? Think again. Reality can make you think that nothing can be done, and it gets even worse when you watch the news all the time – all because of seeing the negativity around you.
A lesson to learn in this respect is from Steve Jobs – who regularly dismissed the negativity by using what observers termed as the ‘reality distortion field’. He took major risks with the Apple Company, coming up with ideas that seemed impossible to fulfill – and yet he was never afraid. His courage to think differently challenged his employees to think differently as well, and they began to make things they thought were impossible.
Using this knowledge, you have a choice: rejecting the negativity that comes from your ideas, or choosing to follow the negativity. Like Steve Jobs, I encourage you to be brave and have faith in your ability to see new things; that will lead to growth in these uncertain times.
Don’t always follow the established rules
Have you ever thought of a business idea, but someone else dismissed it when you told them about it – just because it went outside the established rules? You are not alone in this; part of the entrepreneurship experience is coming up with ideas that seem not to make sense.
Sometimes, you might have a great idea – but you will need to take bold choices that ignore the established rules. You might try to establish the business, but the rules in place do not allow you or your business to thrive – and yet you can clearly see that this business is significant to helping you grow and serve others. In this case, you might need to ignore oppressive regulations, and see whether it will work for you. That is the essence of risk taking.
Think negatively (anticipate)
In the world of startups, it is common for entrepreneurs to give you the advice of ‘anticipating’. This technique is not exactly new, as it became popular knowledge from a psychologist known as Gary Klein, and is seen as an exercise that practices hindsight, although the original use was from the ancient Stoics.
As optimistic as you might want to be, things will not always turn out the way you anticipate – like the COVID-19 suddenly interfering with the growth of businesses and economies. However, one tactic of helping you remain cool under pressure of the daily occurrences of life is to rehearse negative scenarios in your mind – at least for the sake of reducing the element of surprise. Through this method, you will not be unexpectedly shocked, which allows you to quickly pick up the reins and move on.
Accepting your fate
There are many examples of entrepreneurs who have gone through shocks and unfortunate circumstances in their lives. However, there are many who did not let these setbacks overcome them and dampen their resolve; Thomas Edison is one example. When his production suffered due to the burning of his campus, he did not let the despair take over him, and he never became angry.
Rather than anger, he became more energized. In fact, he was so determined to get back into production, he had the factory repaired, and then he re-opened it three weeks later. All his determination was because he believed in the philosophy of ‘Amor Fati’, or accepting your fate – a belief also practiced by the ancient Stoics.
In this environment, you can be upset when you see an investor leaving your business or when you have to lay off employees. However, you do not need to be depressed about it, as you can always use it as a chance to get something new out of your passion.
While you might not think of yourself as a philosopher, the entrepreneurs I mentioned were not philosophers either – but you can learn plenty of lessons from them and take similar action in your own business.