“Entrepreneur and stubborn are synonymous,” the speaker at an angel meeting I was at said yesterday. “Perhaps, ‘single-minded’ would be a more polite term,” he added.
Or, I thought, naïve, or ignorant might work too. Well, I added, perhaps that’s strategically naïve or strategically ignorant. I think I might really like strategic stubbornness, ignorance, single-mindedness, or, yes, even naïveté. (SISN)
Seems to me that the task facing an entrepreneur is really daunting. I recently heard Alan Patricof tell the story of an entrepreneur who started out as an iron scrap monger and today owns smelting operations around the world that he visits with his G4. Imagine that guy and the challenges he faced – one after another. Not much different from the path a really great entrepreneur will unerringly follow through her own field of challenges.
But what’s that got to do with SISN? (Don’t you just hate instant acronyms?)
Well, our prototypical entrepreneur (a great, world class person!) clearly can map her competition. Knows who the potential partners are, and what other players are out there in various roles.
But more than anything else, she has an unerring sense of what the customer wants today and will want tomorrow. And will need the day after that.
The problem is, of course, getting there. And that’s where SISN comes in. If she accepts that new challenges can’t be overcome because of (one of my favorites!) “the laws of physics don’t allow it,” or “there’s no way to accomplish x,y, or z” nothing much will happen.
But, of course, the stubborn entrepreneur simply finds a way. Now that doesn’t sound like a big thought. But I think it might be.
We were once told by great software engineers back in the 386 days of early 1989 that we couldn’t construct a reliable database that would query hundreds of millions of individual transactions on a pc in anything under tens of hours. But, being able to do it would carve out an ability to deliver value to our retail customers well beyond any other way then available.
We were fortunate to have a couple of outside the box thinkers who figured it out, on paper, and were confident we could do it. So, we announced it. While I don’t recommend that as a strategy, it sure did focus our minds. And V1.0 came out of the lab on time and working.
So, if your challenge is finding a way when you here “it can’t be done,” put on your SISN hat and do it anyway. In fact, send me an email and I’ll send you a SISN t-shirt for that next important meeting.