I don’t know Jeff Haden but I like his work and respect him. Still, when he posts on BNET that The Entrepreneur’s Most Important Asset is “irrational optimism,” I say no. Absolutely not.
Jeff wrote that “irrational optimism” is more important than “plenty of capital, a comprehensive business plan, a solid market analysis, or great employees.” I completely disagree. Maybe he’s exaggerating for effect, but still … here’s his explanation:
Entrepreneurs must embrace belief and ignore self-doubts: Feelings that we aren’t smart enough, dedicated enough, adaptable enough… or simply that, in spite of our best intentions and best efforts, we cannot and will not succeed.
Ignore stupid self doubts, sure … but irrational optimism in the face of market problems, quality problems, sales and marketing problems, competition, changing technology … that’s going to get you nowhere fast.
It’s much better to recognize weaknesses as well as strengths, threats as well as opportunities, and manage your business away from threats, and towards opportunities. Deal with your business’ weaknesses, and take advantage of its strengths.
Fear, when it’s irrational and stupid, is harmful. But fear, well harnessed, linked to awareness and alertness and flexibility, is good for a real-world business owner. In my opinion.
(Image: Jackie Kever/Flickr CC)