Today I was reading an article that was written by Michael Skapinke on the Financial Times called "Entrepreneurs need to know when to let go". You can read it if you feel like here.
On the article, there was a phrase that particularly called my attention: "Scepticism is the journalist's default position, just as optimism is the entrepreneur's".
Only few people would disagree with the fact that these "let`s be positive that it`s gonna work - attitude" that Entrepreneurs share plays a key role. It`s on the Entrepreneur`s DNA to hope for the best (no matter which risk level they are handling), and they do so because they trust the power of their own ideas and performance. And it`s great. Self-confidence is one of the most powerful characteristics that one can have to reach extraordinary things.
However "right" and admirable the former can sound, there are limits. Indeed there must be limits ... the biggest challenge is to be aware of them. Out of my personal experience supporting Entrepreneurs as also trying to be one since we opened our restaurant with a couple of other partners, few situations where Entrepreneurs might suffer from "overdose of optimism" are:
- Not letting go a business that market has shown not to be profitable and still trying to artificially keep it alive though capital investment. If you do not change the strategy (management, plan, leader) to make it work, a business won`t get back on track by just being positive that a bit more of time is needed.
- Not letting go a worker/employee that shows some potential, but that has not been able to exploit it. "I think he/she will improve" - Second chances to underperformers are most typical than what we believe. Unfortunately (and fortunately) Entrepreneurs tend to think with the heart when it comes to managing employees, specially if these employees are those who happened to be around when you started your business. There is a hidden feeling of gratitude involved.
Coming back to the phrase that inspired me to write this post ("scepticism is the journalist's default position, just as optimism is the entrepreneur's"), I feel like modifying it a bit to tap better into the entrepreneurial arena: "Scepticism is the manager`s default position, just as optimism is the entrepreneur's". When Entrepreneurs accept their overdose of optimism and realize that it can threaten their business, normally they call managers, creating a healthy balance. If Entrepreneurs are not there to hope for the best, innovation and "out of the box thinking" couldn`t probably flourish.
I think the biggest conclusions of this reflexion is that:
1. It would be a mistake to pretend to remove the natural optimism that Entrepreneurs have, it`s like going against their essence
2. Entrepreneurs need however to be aware when optimism blinds them and affects the soundness of the decisions they make
3. It`s important to look for a "counterweight" once one is aware that optimism is hindering growth: involving an objective manager or investor or advisor could be a way to go.
Meanwhile "WORKING FOR THE BEST WHILE HOPING FOR THE BEST" might sound like a healthy balance.