Idea's space

This blog is dedicaded to share ideas about personal and professional development.

Posts Tagged ‘risk

What if I fail?

with 4 comments

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.”

Advertisements

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 11, 2012 at 21:35

An entrepreneur, an optimistic person?

leave a comment »

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

Change of life, yes but….

leave a comment »

Michel Kacenelenbogen, founder of the theater "Le Public" in Brussels, was first a business man.

Some of us are dreaming to change of life, by changing of professional activity, by doing something different from what we are doing now. We see of course the positive side of such changes but there will be also new constraints to these changes. These changes imply to take decisions, to make choices, but these decisions and choices have to be the result of a reflection process and not of improvisation.  There are several things we have to think about before to operate such change and to be sure we are going in the right direction. Walt Disney said “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Nevertheless, we have not to neglect the importance and the consequences such changes can have. What is a dream will become a reality and we have to make sure that we can assume this new reality. I would like here to share some ideas about some aspects you have to think about, if you dream to change of life.

  • Indentify clearly why you want to change of career, of job. Is it because you do not like what you are doing, or because there is another problem not related to your actual position. I remember a single-handed sailor, who was telling that he received often letter fro people who were fed up about life and who want to come with him on board to sail with him around the world. The sailor do never accept to take these people with him, he said, because they have to solve first their problems before to be on board. By not solving their problems, they will come on board with their problems and in this case, it could be a danger.

  • Make sure that the choice you will do is really the one you will be passionate by. If you decide to move to something you are passionate by, it is because you are already doing this activity as a hobby, or you are bringing a lot of interest to that activity, and this is motivating you. This kind of decision is something you decide because you discovered something new that brings motivation. It is difficult to say that you will be motivated by something if you never did it. In this case, your dream could be simply an illusion.

  • Be aware that you will have to deal with new constraints, and you will have to be able to face to them. You can prepare this future activity and  build scenarios, but if you are paying attention, you see that very often, things does not happen as foreseen. I remember friends of my parents who decide to leave Belgium and to buy a farm in south of France. For these two scientists, it was a total change of life, with new positive things but also new constraints to deal with. There is a huge difference to live permanently in another country and to go in this country for your holidays.

  • Be sure that your choice is matching with your values of life or new values you decided to follow. To switch to another activity does not mean that you will only gain advantages. As mentioned before, you will have to face new constraints, and one of these constraints is money. I read in an economical magazine some testimonials about managers who changed of life. Most of them were saying that there were earning less money than before, but they were much more happy with what there were doing now. Such choices make that you will have to move from a passive consumer position to a creative actor.

  • Make sure that you have enough competences to do what you are dreaming of. This is another essential condition to switch successfully to another activity. To start a new challenge makes that you will be a junior in that new domain of activity, and in order to be at the same level of your competitors, you will have to provide intensive efforts and hard work. This is a period where you will have to be strong, and the only things that can support you during these times are your capacities and your motivation.

  • Be prepared to such change and have always an alternative plan. Such change can have an impact on your revenues and your comfort. To move to another enterprise is always a risk, but you can prepare such situation. Determine how much risk you can take and you are able to face, and have always an alternative plan if you do not succeed.

Make a change of career is not a decision you take suddenly. You are lead to make such choice in function of the circumstances of your life. But as a sailor, when you decide to change of road, you have to know first where you want to go, and to be aware about the constraints linked to this new choice, this new road. The new choice you will do will not be necessarily more easy that your present situation, it will be different and more matching your values and expectations.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 6, 2011 at 19:28

If you can dream it, you can do it.

with one comment

If you can dream it, you can do it - Walt Disney

This quote as title of this article was from Walt Disney. Recently, I was attending a presentation session for web entrepreneurs, organized by the Betagroup in the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels. The organizer of these sessions is used to end the session by telling a quote related to entrepreneurship. After the session, ending by a networking drink, I had the pleasure to talk with a freelance journalist about the experience of entrepreneurship. She was raising the question to know if the fact to dream about doing something is a sufficient condition to do something and to succeed. This question seems to be a bit naive, but it is not the case at all.

Today, we can attend a lot of coaching training sessions where some coaches says that everybody can do what he is dreaming and that he will succeed. I wrote on this blog an article about the fact to stay focused on your goal. I agree with the fact that if you do not believe in what you are doing, you will never reach your goal. But in order to succeed in the project or the job of your dreams, there are several conditions you have to keep in mind:

  • Do I have the talent for this? It is important to know about yourself, to clearly determine what are your strong points and your weaknesses. Peter Drucker was used to say that it is better to work on your strong point in order to go from the competence to excellence instead of to work on your weaknesses in order to go from the incompetence to the mediocrity. I would add that you can be able to play piano, but there is a huge difference between knowing to play piano and to be a piano player like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In a competition environment, you have to appear to be one of the best player.
  • Am I entrepreneur minded? To become entrepreneur is not only a change of social status, it is also a question of mind. An entrepreneur needs to have always a project in advance. He is somebody who wants to move things forward, who is curious and who has of course the entrepreneurship spirit.
  • Is there a market for the services I want to propose? You can not escape to that question. It is important to know if there are customer interested by your product or services and if they are ready to pay the requested price.
  • Are you ready to assume the risk linked to start as an entrepreneur? As you know, entrepreneurship is always risky. Are you ready to loose a part of your money if your project do not succeed? If you can not sleep anymore, it is because you invest probably a too big part of money in a project and you are scared to have a lack of revenues.
  • Have you an alternative plan? If you do not succeed, have you develop an alternative plan in order to still have revenues? I remember an article about a entrepreneur who launched his own activity after a 15 years employee career in a bank. This man was explaining that he invested a part of his money in two apartments he gave to rent, ensuring an alternative revenue in case of business failure.
  • Do not hesitate to ask advices to serious advisers. It is always an asset to have different points of view from professionals in different areas. There is more in few heads than in one. Make the difference between serious people and the others. The others are building time to time their own legend, or are telling you only their success and not their failures.

These points I mentioned are important to maximize your chance to realize your entrepreneurship dreams. If you can dream it, you can do it, but stay in contact with the reality and be creative.

Interesting links for entrepreneurs: http://www.betagroup.be/ – http://www.westartup.eu/

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 27, 2011 at 00:38

Development, a sustainable way of growth.

leave a comment »

BP's oil spill, an ecological disaster.

The United States of America are facing the worst ecological disaster since more than a month with the BP’s offshore platform accident. The flow was already categorized as the largest offshore oil spill in the American nation’s history, but the new figures are much higher than the previous estimates. President Barack Obama pronounced a speech, saying it is time to develop the field of new and renewable energies, cleaner for the environment.

But the question is to know if there is really a will to develop such energy field? There is a debate and different mind regarding oil reserves. The extraction of oil becomes more complicated as we have to extract it deeper. The development of more sophisticated extraction techniques shows that we are able to find new oil reserves. But this has a cost, not only on an operational level but also on the ecological level. Money is spend to develop more sophisticated extraction techniques, but have we the full control of the process in case of accident, and are the safety measures always followed? The present situation in the Mexican gulf seems to show it is not the case. As often, companies are focused on short-term profit, forgetting the risk management. Oil generates appreciable profits, but in the Gulf oil spill, the ecological and economical cost is probably much higher for the country, compared to the generated profits on the same period. The balance of such disaster is clearly negative, as the estimated cost amounts to 1 billion usd. This oil spill will have short and long term effects on an economical and ecological point of view.

I would like to make the following comment. Often, ecology and economy are considered as two distinct things, incompatible and with no links between. This is a wrong point of view. Each natural and ecological disaster generates re-construction costs and no added value. In the case of the gulf oil spill, it would have been more interesting to spend the lost money to the development of renewable energy technologies. Research and innovation are an economical motor. The development of sustainable and renewable energies resources provides long terms economical and ecological benefits.

In order to develop a sustainable economy, it is important to analyze the benefits and the risk of each choice, each alternative, but we have also to distinct the difference between growth and development. Let us take an easy example: the growth of the pharmaceutical industry in a country is a good deal for the economical statistics, but it means that the consumption of medicine is increasing, which means that people are not in good health. This is not a really positive situation. On the other side, if the building industry growth is increasing because you build new schools and empowered the education system, this growth contributes to development with future long term economical and social benefits.

Development is the key of sustainable growth. Each crisis we met is destroying values, and the time and energy we spent to recover the lost value, to be again on the start point is a pure waste. A growth based on sustainable value contributes to a long term development, where each step contributes to the next one. It means also that in a development process, each component needs to be taken into account, not only the economical side, but also the social and environmental components, and all these components need to be integrated on a long term view.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 20, 2010 at 10:27