If you want to follow your dreams to be an entrepreneur, you need to become comfortable with not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow.
You need to be comfortable with uncertainty. Do everything you can to increase your tolerance for uncertainty. Put yourself in a position where there is no such thing as an unpleasant surprise. Make all surprises be pleasant.
Nassim Taleb’s book, Anti-Fragile, is a treasure chest of advice for ensuring that you not only are immune to adverse events, but that you actually benefit when things don’t go your way.
Making yourself anti-fragile allows you to take the path less travelled.
1Don’t care what people think
Make yourself immune to the opinion of the crowd. The way to do this is to regularly embarrass yourself in public. If you always seem perfect, your ego will become brittle, and you will develop a deep fear of public failure.
Rather get into the habit of doing things outside your comfort zone, like public speaking, or singing, or anything that makes you cringe.
Cringing is the cure for fear of humiliation. After enough cringes, you’ll be immunised.
2Have a safety net
Don’t leap from the cliff unless you have a safety net. If you’re lucky enough to have been born into a wealthy family, good for you. If not, you have two options: Marry rich or start saving.
If your business doesn’t make money as fast as you think it will (it won’t), your safety net will ensure you don’t hit the ground with a thud.
3Live a simple life
The most important tool for taking risk is to live a simple life. Don’t be ostentatious and drive a flashy car. Keep your overheads low, regardless of your income. Keeping your life simple has benefits other than allowing you to take risk.
- Avoid the wrong spouse. It’s easier to attract the right spouse if you’re not driving a Ferrari. Do you really want to marry the kind of person that finds a fancy car irresistible?
- Avoid being stupid. The high life brings temptations to go to the dark side. Why test your resolve? You have enough on your plate making your business a success. Rather avoid temptation. A simple life keeps you away from doing bad stuff.
- Extend your runway. If you keep your personal overheads low, then your runway gets longer and you can plug away at your start-up for longer. High overheads equals shorter runway.
- Maximise profit. The habit of frugality in your private life will port into your start-up. The easiest way to make a profit is to keep your costs down.
- Keep humble. No one likes arrogant people. If you’re flashy you’ll be perceived as arrogant. That’s all fine and well when times are good, but when you have a setback there will be a pile-on whilst folks savour the schadenfreude.
- Think clearly. How can you think when you’re constantly surrounded by your courtiers and cars and houses and stuff? The less distractions you have in your life, the more you can focus your mental energy on your business. Remember, you can’t take any of your assets and trophies with you when you die. When you die, you’re dead. You’re dust. All the material goods are meaningless.
The only meaningful thing is whether you left a positive impact on the world during your short time alive. Owning a super-yacht is not a ‘positive impact.’ Build a profitable business that helps its customers and that can outlive its founder. That’s a positive impact.
Living a simple life doesn’t mean living a common life. You can still be extraordinary. You can eat great food, send your kids to world-class schools, travel to amazing places, and create great memories.
You can still be rich, and have the peace of mind that comes with financial freedom. Just keep your lifestyle simple. It’s easy to be simple when you’re poor. It’s also easy to be flash when you’re poor. Easiest of all is being flash when you’re rich.
Choose the hard path: Keep it simple even when you don’t have to.
- Do you have a burning start-up question?
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