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Archive for January 2012

What if I fail?

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In my previous article, I was talking about an entrepreneur I met recently who was building her first project as entrepreneur. We talked about the fact that the entrepreneurship is always a risk, and that the chances to succeed and to fail exist. The possibility to fail is probably a important reason making that some people don’t want to take the risk of entrepreneurship.

As Peter Drucker said, to become an entrepreneur, you don’t need an entrepreneur character, but character only. A character able to face risk, looking for change, and seeing change as an opportunity. But the ability to face risk is not enough, you have to manage it too. When you start a project presenting risks, have always an alternative plan, and measure the level of risk you will not go over. These two conditions will make that you will take more easily risks and be able to take appropriate actions if you don’t succeed.

The character is not only a condition making that people are scared to become entrepreneur. Failure is ofter considered as negative by people around you, and failing people have a guilty feeling. Failure has to be seen as a fact and something you can learn from. Such experience is not useless for many reasons:

  • By launching your own activity, you will have to do a lot of things and to manage things you were not used to manage. You will develop skills and maybe discover hidden talents. This talents and skills are open doors to new opportunities,
  • In an entrepreneurship project, you meet people to take advices, to contract specific expertise. You will meet new environments, you build a network, with people who bring you advice, and maybe new ideas. These new ideas or advice you acquired are feeding your knowledge and experience. You will can use them for other projects, or in other contexts.
  • By analyzing the reason of your failure, you will identify your mistakes, and to develop alternative solutions or scenarios. Such analyze make that you will be ready to restart other projects on a more appropriate way, without repeating the same mistakes,
  • Your experience of failure can make that you could be a valuable partner for future projects, build with other partners. Expertise is most of the time acquired by experience,and failure is a part of experience and contributes to bring added value,

By having this in mind, failure doesn’t mean that you are back to the start point. You are just on an new start point, with more skills, more experience, making that failure is probably not an absolute necessity, but an experience you can use as a raw material to build new and stronger projects. By do not deciding to take the risk to launch your own project, you will not fail but you will not succeed too. Remember this quote I don’t remember the author: “There is no such thing as a failed entrepreneur. You are a failed entrepreneur only when you quit. Until then, you’re simply not successful yet.”

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 11, 2012 at 21:35

An entrepreneur, an optimistic person?

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Philippe Gabilliet, professor in a MBA school and auteur of "L'éloge de l'optimisme"

The year 2011 is over, and traditionally, the new year is the time to build new projects, new resolutions. Nevertheless, if you red of heard to the news, it is not a secret that 2012 will probably be a difficult year (one more you will say), particularly in the euro zone. Some countries are already in economical recession. Such times are concerns for people, who are wondering if they will keep their job and will be able to pay the bills at month end. The entrepreneurs are concerned also by the crisis and the negative impact on their business, are facing lack of visibility, making the decision-making difficult. What can they do to face such difficulties? The entrepreneurs who have long term views know that they will face difficult times in their life, and are prepared to such situation. The only thing they have to do also is to stay optimistic. Really? You probably think that it sounds like a joke. What the fact to be optimistic can solve in such situation? Let us talk about this.

Few weeks ago, I was reading a book about the optimism, written by Philippe Gabilliet, a professor in a French MBA school. I can only recommend to everybody and not only entrepreneur , or people having a entrepreneur mind, to read this book. Here, I would like to talk more specifically about entrepreneurs, who seem to be by definition optimistic persons. Indeed, to become entrepreneur is always a risk. The success an entrepreneur can meet is proportional to the risk of failure he can meet too. Does it mean that he is not aware about the risk he can meet, by deciding to start a risky business? Let us consider that most of the time, he is aware of the risk, if he prepared seriously his project, and was well advised by mentors. By being aware about the risk, for which reason is he still motivated to build a project of business? This is a good point, and to explain this, we have to mention a distinction that professor Galilliet makes in his book.

We have to consider two kind of optimism, or pessimism. The is the optimism or pessimism of way, and the optimism and pessimism of goal. Each person can present these two characteristics.

  • The one who is an optimistic of way and an optimistic of goal is probably the one who is not conscious about the reality. His thoughts are “We will succeed and it will be easy.”
  • The one who is a pessimistic of way and pessimistic of goal, is the most negative person of the four we can define here. He thinks that “It will be difficult, and finally, we will not succeed”. Such person has not to become an entrepreneur. He has the certitude to fail.
  • The one who is a optimistic of way and a pessimistic of goal. For professor Gabilliet, this is the most strange attitude we can find. Such person thinks that “We will probably not succeed , but he will have learned something”. Interesting, but does such person believe to the pursued goal, or does he favor his own interests?
  • The one who is a pessimistic of way and an optimistic of goal, is probably the most conscious of the difficulties. He is convinced that “We will succeed, but it will be not easy at all”.

The pessimistic of way and optimistic of goal is certainly the most prepared person to the entrepreneurs life. He is aware about the difficulties he will face. Despite the fact that he is an optimistic of goal, he is yet aware that he could fail too. The question is how can he still stay motivated, in front of a potentiality to fail? The optimistic is somebody who can use the failure as a raw material to learn something and to develop other alternatives, strategies, to reach the goal he assigned to himself. Failure is an element that will feed his knowledge base and that will give him the resources to anticipate. I was speaking recently with an entrepreneur who was building her first project. She was aware about the potentiality to fail, but she told me that such experience is an opportunity to meet people, and to learn a lot of things you can use for other future projects. An optimistic will consider the positive side of things and to use it to move forward.

In my mind, entrepreneurs are optimistic persons. There are persons who believe to that famous quote “We didn’t know it was impossible, so we did it”. To become an entrepreneur is always a risk, and if they were no optimistic persons like entrepreneurs, most of the inventions around us would not exist. If you move 30 years back, and that we told you the future inventions that would exist today, a lot of people would consider you as crazy. But optimistic entrepreneurs who probably met failures in their life, realized these inventions, like the web, the solar airplane “Solar Impulse”, etc..

As conclusion, I would say that even if times are difficult, you can always move forward with your creativity and your optimism, two key components who will gain more and more value in the future.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 7, 2012 at 18:21