It may be a bit of a generalization, but I don’t think that I’m out of line when I say that entrepreneurs, on balance, are an impatient bunch.
In order to build a successful business, you have to hustle and be somewhat of a hard-charger. Impatience, unsurprisingly, is a common byproduct of the entrepreneurial mindset.
I know that I certainly used to fall into this category. It was only after several years of running BodeTree that I came to realize that in business, patience truly is a virtue.
Avoid “ready, fire, aim” syndrome
I have a tendency to rapidly evaluate situations as I encounter them, which is both a blessing and a curse. In the best cases, this rapid assessment enables me to quickly grasp a situation and plot a path forward.
In the worst cases, however, this rapid-fire though process creates a chasm between me and the people I’m working with. When this happens, I find myself jumping forward to a conclusion while others are still processing the information at hand.
This “ready, aim, fire” syndrome is all too common amongst entrepreneurs, and while sometimes it leads to rapid iteration and growth, more often than not it results in problems.
In my experience, the rapid conclusion I reach is occasionally not as solid as I think. Sometimes, I overlook critical details, implications, or opportunities. Other times, I grow impatient and end up alienating the people I’m working with.
Impatience is self-sabotage
When you jump to a hasty conclusion, you end up creating an artificial timeline in your mind. When people or processes fail to align to that timeline, the mind can run wild.
You begin to question the motives and intentions of the people on the other side of the equation and put forth ultimatums that may or may not be considered reasonable. This often leads to two unfortunate outcomes.
First, impatience makes you look desperate. Pushing a partner too aggressively or issuing unreasonable ultimatums is extremely off putting. In my experience, I’ve found that such actions come across as a major red flag to external parties. More often than not, it kills the deal.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, this kind of impatience is the ultimate self-sabotage. It clouds the judgement, detracts from your credibility, and damages relationships.
I’m particularly guilty of this behavior. Several years ago, my co-founder and I were approached by a public technology company looking to acquire BodeTree. The deal would have been transformative and extremely lucrative, but the due diligence process seemed to drag on for longer than necessary.
In my naïveté, I adopted a “take it or leave it” stance with the other company. Unsurprisingly, they opted to “leave it.”
Looking back, I realize that I allowed my impatience to influence my actions, which in turn ultimately scuttled the deal. It was perhaps the most powerful example of self-sabotage in my career to-date.
All good things take time
One thing I’m sure of in this world is that nothing of value comes easily. In fact, anything of value takes time, whether it’s a matter of developing a skill, building a relationship, or launching a business initiative.
Although entrepreneurs like myself like to simplify matters as much as possible, the truth is that the world is a complex place, full of nuance.
For example, a recent deal that saw BodeTree acquire another business took seven months from start to finish. As far as acquisitions go, this was relatively fast, but of course it didn’t feel that way while in the thick of the process.
I’ve said before that every deal dies three times before it closes, and this was no exception. There were a number of instances where it appeared that the deal would fall through, and I know that had I given into my natural impatience, they would have.
Fortunately, everyone involved was able to keep their wits about them and reach a successful conclusion. The result was an opportunity that made sense for everyone involved. It reminded me of the old maxim: all good things take time.
Patience really is a virtue
As entrepreneurs, we live in a world that values quick thinking and dynamic action. This is not a bad thing in and of itself. However, when you allow these traits to manifest in the form of impatience, problems arise.
As difficult as it may be, entrepreneurs must remember that patience, especially in business, truly is a virtue.
Credit: Chris Myers