This post is coming from a deep place, I hope you will recognize that. Success is celebrated around the world, but nobody cares about failure. When people fail, it’s like they are dropped into this ocean of disappointment where they are drowning slowly. Some fail so hard they cannot summon the courage to do any innovative thing anymore. Many are drawn into addictions and rough mental states that they won’t be able to break free from even when they later succeed. The psychological hit from failure can be so strong when the focus is solely on success.
I loathe being in that state. I have taught myself not to assume certainty where there is a probability. However, many people haven’t.
I had a conversation with a friend that began a startup. He quit his previous working place because the top management was ridiculous about money. They couldn’t pay the salaries of his subordinates, yet they could throw a party in Dubai. He started a company in an entirely different area. While he planned to get a job on the side as he ran the business, things haven’t gone as planned. It’s almost a year now, and the business is yet to pick up. We all know starting up is not easy, but we often underestimate how complicated it is.
I don’t believe experience is a teacher; it is better suited as the exam. Experience is the exam that tests your knowledge. If you fail, it means there is something you ought to know that you are yet to know. People claim to learn from failures, but do they? People who claim to learn from failures are the most unfortunate because they set themselves up for further failure. They think that the opposite of what made them fail will make them successful. Or they assume that what they knew and did not do was what made them fail. That is why you’ll hear the phrase, ‘I’ve learned my lesson’ from them. Nobody asks, ‘what is it that I don’t understand?’
The first thing I thought about after leaving school was a startup as well. You know, there are some of us that regular jobs do not fit at all. I knew right from my school days that I would not be sitting with a regular job. However, I assumed that being an entrepreneur was the only other option. That, I discovered, was wrong.
Perhaps you don’t fit with the employee thing, just like I don’t, that is not the pointer that you should become an entrepreneur. What I am trying to say is:
There is so much more into being an entrepreneur beyond your reasoning and decision to be one
Too many people have been fooled by the success stories. The companies that started from a garage and grew into powerful corporations. Don’t let the stories narrow down your range of thinking. If you aspire to be like them, you have already taken the first step in your story of failure.
This is how I map out success; I define my goal and then start eliminating the chances of failure. If I make failure impossible, I will succeed. But if I chase after success, I would probably be blind to the potholes of failure. So, the point here is:
Never chase success, instead make failure difficult
Those who chase after success and eventually become successful have so many things going right for them that could have gone either way. Some call it luck, some call it being favored, others call it good fortune. I can begin to sight the instances in every of those big success stories. Incidentally, nobody gives huge credit to those things. But without them, those success stories we celebrate today will not exist. Imagine if Warren Buffet was born in Oman, imagine if Bill Gates didn’t go to schools that had computers, imagine if one of those billionaires had a loved one diagnosed with a sickness that required an expensive surgery at the exact time the business was struggling to stay afloat.
“Again I looked throughout the earth and saw that the swiftest person does not always win the race, nor the strongest man the battle, and that wise men are often poor, and skillful men are not necessarily famous; but it is all by chance, by happening to be at the right place at the right time” — Ecclesiastics 9:11 (TLB)
Anyone who tells you that hard work is the key to success told you a lie. However, that is not an excuse for laziness. It just helps you to stay sharp to focus your energy on what really matters. Yes, it is all by chance but you can plot your way into the “chance”. This is the secret.
I believe everybody in the world can be responsible and successful
Now, to startups. Just because you have an idea and you are not the employee-type doesn’t mean you should launch a startup. If you do, the chances that you will fail are very high. Going ahead is not a leap of faith, it is a step into the darkness. Even if you succeed, you will likely lose your soul. There are factors that your success depend on that are way beyond you. The most important thing for a startup is not an idea, it is the right resources. The right resources include the right people, the right place, the right platform, the right time and the right schedule. One wrong element in the resources can mean the failure of the whole thing.
Consider how the natural world is; it takes a lot of things to come together to make good things happen. However, a crack or deficiency in a small area can lead to catastrophic failure. All organs of the human body have to be okay for the human to be fine, however, a problem with just one organ will mean sickness. Plants need all kinds of minerals to stay healthy and produce. However, if just one mineral needed is lacking the production of the plant will be affected. Think this way.
Do you still want to go ahead with your startup? Great! List out all the possible ways you can fail. This is because as we have seen; the force of failure in this world is greater than the force of success. It is only smart to roll in the direction of the wind. Don’t deceive yourself. Be completely honest. If you know you will not be honest enough with yourself, ask a friend or colleague who is sincere enough to hit you with the hard stuff.
Write down all the possible ways you can fail
If you can plug every one of those possible ways seamlessly, then you can go ahead with the startup. If you can’t, halt! I am not saying you should give up or throw away your dreams, but you need to be wise and put your plans on hold. After you have resulted to holding yourself, you need to ask yourself this sincere question:
Why do I want to do this?
If the aim is to make money, don’t begin a startup. If the aim is to give yourself a challenge or a work to do, don’t begin a startup. If you can’t find a job and you feel the need to do something; don’t attempt a startup. If you just quit your job or you got fired and you are tired of having a boss, launching a startup is a very poor option for you. If you have an idea that is driving you crazy and you feel you can make it happen, that is not enough reason to begin a startup.
The only reason to begin a startup is if you have a good idea, a sound plan and (most importantly) the required resources. If you can’t see the resources, keep scouting for them. Never launch out until you have what you need to perform. You should know why by now.
So, what are the other options apart from entrepreneurship? As far as your eyes can see! The key to enjoying the best life has to offer is relevance. Relevance doesn’t have to be connected to entrepreneurship. Instead of starting a company that requires a lot of working parts to be successful, why don’t you become a vital piece of success that organizations seek after? Nobody really cares about school degrees when it comes to the productive world. What everybody cares about is what you are capable of. What I am trying to say is:
You could become the one in demand; meaning that people need what you know and can do
How is this different from an employee? It is! An employee is like a pawn in a chess game, this is like being an official. An employee is like a youth taken to be trained as a soldier, this is more like a rogue general that every country tries to lure to their side during times of war. If money is your goal, this is the direction you ought to head! The point here is:
Make yourself special. Make yourself someone everybody wants on their side
This comes by doing something. I told my friend (that I shared about earlier who launched a startup) that he should compile a list of the top people in the country in the industry he was in. And then position himself at the center of them such that he is the surest link between any two individuals on the list. In settling in that position, he will expose himself to more resources that will drastically reduce his chances of failure. If you don’t give yourself a unique relevance, nobody will desire to be productively associated with you after a while. Make yourself special. Create a reputation of yourself as the person that did something wow. This way, “chance” can find you and resources can beg you to launch a startup.
Finally, if you are going to forget everything you just read, don’t forget this; NEVER AIM FOR SUCCESS!! MAKE FAILURE DIFFICULT!!
I rest my case