entrepreneur lessons

A few Sundays ago, I had time to enjoy and reflect on the interview Sumiko Tan had with Pritam Singh — the Leader of the Opposition (LO) in Singapore.

A good read, but what caught my eye was how Singh regarded the good and the less good experiences life throws his way: “While today [life] may be an up — or you perceive it to be an up — don’t be too excited or too happy because there will be a down. But when that happens, don’t be too sad either. Think of the recovery.”

“I think a lot of life is like that. So when things are going good, keep your feet grounded, don’t get too exuberant, because these things come in cycles.”

Relevance to the Lunar New Year Celebration

With 2020 behind us, and yet the end of the COVID-19 tunnel remaining elusive, I sense some of us in Singapore are getting somewhat careless in how we handle COVID-19.

This resulted in our government imposing rules on gatherings — which is somewhat of an annoyance given Lunar New Year catch-ups is what we do during the festive period.

Thankful as I am that the COVID-19 community spread cases are kind of under control, we should not be “..too excited nor too happy”, and throw caution to the wind because there could be super-spreaders and we could be miserable when more tightening measures are introduced as a result.

At the same time, when there are restrictions on gatherings. I am reminded that I should not be too dismayed nor should I grumble. Instead, I ought to be thankful for having the opportunity to have some form of visitation … and instead of finishing all visits in one day, we now have the excuse to do multi-day celebrations and visitations. Not too bad …

Also Read: 9 fundraising mistakes entrepreneurs and founders must avoid

None of the entrepreneurs I have dialogued with is spared from having roller coaster experiences. The high points in the entrepreneurs’ lives are when they raised a new financing round, secured a large contract, displaced a competitor, and more.

And these high points are repeated … at higher altitudes as the companies mature to raising Series B, C, D … and the alphabets go on. But before the exit celebrations roll along, entrepreneurs will have more dark days.

These dark days are the flip side, and they include when the funds run low when teams are unable to deliver on sales targets and more.

At a recent board call, one founder was sharing his 2021 plans, along with exciting news of a new financing round. As board members, we celebrate with him and his team for having come this far. However, as I rewound the journey just a few years back, it was a very different founder I observed then.

At that time the company had people challenges, less than ideal hires who slipped targets. Board updates reflected missed targets, and the founder was tired — overall. We were concerned about his health — physical and mental.

Self-doubt set in, stakes were high as he was also responsible for the livelihood of the many peoples who were under the company’s payroll. Frightening and weary times.

As shareholders and board members, we rallied around him. We shared with him our resources including our time, ears, networks and thoughts. Just like what Singh says, recovery comes around … and now, a few years later, the company is in a very different place.

Through grit and perseverance, and peppered with some luck, the founder was able to hire strong team members who helped reshape the company culture, instituted repeatable processes and shared the load with him. The spirit among team members are high, sales folks are geared up and ready to charge into the new year.

Also Read: What should be the vision of an entrepreneur?

This time around, having grown older and wiser, the founder is now grounded on the fundamentals of ensuring corporate culture and values permeate through the organisation. While they will continue to chart growth and performance metrics, the founder will be keeping a close eye on the bottom line and cash position of the company — which is a wise thing to do.

With a lack of clarity of how 2021 will unfold, founders need to demonstrate wisdom and courage to do the right thing to take their companies through another fluid year. Right could mean different things for different companies, hence the consultation and dialogue with shareholders, board members and staff will remain important.

Regardless of the outcome, founders must know that this is life, and this life journey will have its highs and lows.

Founders will need to remain grounded and not be swept away when things look good, and not be overly dismayed at low moments … for these too, will pass.

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Image credit: Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

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