The Start-up Mindset

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The Start-up Mindset

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 13:51

Regrets? Thankfully, I’ve had a few

I had a great chat recently with a successful businessman – a man in his 60s who has made money in a lot of different industries and lived through both good economic times and bad.


The conversation eventually turned to the subject of the opportunities he failed to capitalise on. It was amazing to hear that even for someone so successful, there have been countless missed opportunities.


He told me stories of businesses he could have invested in and markets he could have gotten into that would have earned him untold extra millions.


It ended up becoming a conversation about regrets – of the downside of being timid or short-sighted and not going after things with sufficient aggression or conviction.


I then asked him what seemed like an obvious question: How many things did he almost go into that would have been a disaster?


He looked at me and smiled. I could almost see the hundreds of near-misses running through his consciousness.


Up until that point, as the conversation flowed, he was becoming obsessed with his mistakes and oversights but he didn’t for a moment consider the kind of reverse luck that he’d had along the way as well.


He then opened up to me about all the things he nearly went in to – the companies that went bust, the people who were crooks, the markets that crashed. Luckily for him, for whatever reason at the time, he simply passed on them.


It got me thinking. We spend so much time replaying in our minds all of our errors, all the times we procrastinated or chickened out of things. We often really rip into ourselves over them, too.


Yet those very characteristics that result in us missing out on opportunities, of not diving into things with abandon, have also no doubt saved us from making terrible decisions that would have cost us dearly.


I think back over my own professional career and wish that I’d gotten out of working in an advertising agency earlier and started something of my own.


Then I remember some of the schemes I was toying with in my mind during those years of working in advertising agencies and thank my lucky stars. In many ways, my fear of taking that leap, protected me from plunging a lot of time and money into rubbish.


What’s my point?


The next you bemoan an opportunity missed whether due to fear, laziness, lack of vision or whatever, by all means acknowledge the missed opportunity.


But also keep in mind all the times those same characteristics have saved you from diving head-first into a swimming pool that was empty of water.


In the calculus of business life, I reckon the results often work out to be about even.


Jason Rose is a director of consultancy and media-buying platform – a website designed to help SMEs compare and save on their advertising.

He blogs on the lessons he has learnt and continues to learn about the necessary mindset to successfully run a start-up business.

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