Optimism – It gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you scurrying throughout the day despite whatever is going on around you. This appealing quality is necessary in entrepreneurship. However, did you know that an overabundance of optimism can challenge business growth? Read on to find out why.
#1 Neglecting important research
Optimistic entrepreneurs are easily caught up in their own genius. It blinds them from doing necessary research and thinking the strategy will work. This will definitely cause devastating effects on business.
Take for example, Pets.com – launched in 1998, the pet supply website went public in February of 2000. Unfortunately, the company failed within a year of its IPO. Pets.com’s model was built upon early marketing investment, with no actual market research to support decision-making.
It succeeded in making its sock puppet spokesman well known, but ultimately found little demand for its services. The business folded upon realising it had no chance of raising the US$300 million a year, which was required to break even.
#2 Ignoring warning signs
Viewing your business through rose-colored glasses is like flirting with disaster. Overlooking early warning signs of trouble and delaying the response will cost you more time, energy, and money in the long run.
For instance, United Parcel Service, Inc.(UPS) faced a massive fine, US$872 million, for making illegal deliveries of more than 683,000 cartons of untaxed cigarettes. According to the The Fiscal Times, the company repeatedly ignored red flags that many of its shipments from American Indian reservations contained untaxed cartons of cigarettes.
This is one conundrum you’d never wish to face. So, make sure to act fast before it’s too late.
#3 Expecting no setbacks
Let’s face it. No matter how good or successful you are, you will suffer from stumbling blocks. There will be times when you lose an important contract or sales pitch. So, being in denial and convincing yourself that things will always go smoothly is unrealistic and not a good plan.
Let’s take Apple’s latest invention – Airpods, wireless earphones for the iPhone 7, which will be available in late October, for example. Even though Tim Cook is optimistic about the outcome of launching the product, the reviews say otherwise. The expensive and small-sized Airpods are prone to getting lost if they don’t sit properly in your ear. It can also be a problem if your ears canal are not shaped in the way that the wireless earpieces are designed for.
Apart from that, power efficiency, audio quality and noise cancellation technology are areas in which the AirPods are limited compared with current top-tier mobile audio options.We feel that the product could’ve been better if more meticulous research and testing was done by Apple before launching it to the market.
#4 Quitting doesn’t exist
Many entrepreneurs have this idea that ‘quitting is for losers’. We hate to break it to you, but that’s not always the case. More often than not, it’s important and necessary to recognise when to quit. To fail is normal and it doesn’t have to break your stride. Learn to embrace it because it’s a stepping stone to success. Unless you’re repeating the same mistakes, then that’s a different story.
In the movie The Gambler (1974), Kenny Rogers laid out a pretty good strategy that we can carry forward into entrepreneurship: “You got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run!”
Sidecar is a US company that provided ride-sharing services and business-to-business delivery services. Based on GeekWire’s report, Sunil Paul, Sidecar CEO mentioned that the company was unable to compete against Uber, which raised more capital than any other company in history at that time and is infamous for its anti-competitive behavior.
In a blog post, he said: “When it was clear we needed to sell the company, it was important to the board and me that we continue Sidecar’s spirit of innovation and land Sidecar employees in great jobs. Finding a buyer like GM fulfilled our goals. Once the term sheet was signed with GM in December and the strategy was clear, we ceased operation of our ride and delivery operations and focused on closing the deal.”
If he was too optimistic and kept on pushing the competition, the company might’ve ended up in bankruptcy.
#5 Putting fear aside
Usually business owners want to be fearless and be known as risk takers. It’s not a bad thing and we’re not asking you to be a pessimist. However, the right amount of fear will help to keep you in check. It heightens your awareness and stops you from making rash decisions before weighing up the consequences.
In Entrepreneur’s article, Jason Ankeny shared that one of the startups founder, Angela Mader, Founder of Fitlosophy, used her fear as her backseat driver to clear the company’s first hurdle back in 2008 and began its ascent to establishing a presence in 10 countries accompanied by retail partnerships with Amazon, Target and Walgreens.
She’s a proof that you can use fear as a drive to solve problems that you face. The trick is to let fear be your inspiration and guide without letting it paralyse you.
A healthy dose of optimism can get the entrepreneurs through both good and bad times in business. That been said, it’s important to know where to draw the line. As long as you can balance between being an optimist and a realist, you’ll be just fine!