Samuel Taylor Coleridge defined drama as “that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic faith.” Most modern entrepreneurs would probably call the act of making business the willing suspension of doubt, and in many ways it is true.
When anyone is starting something, anything, no matter what it is or how well planned or how calculated the risk has been, how measured, proved, tested, verified, confirmed or analysed there is always an ingredient of uncertainty. No matter what kind of decision, and how convenient it sounds, no one can be one hundred per cent sure that the new option is better than the old one.
Imagine an executive that decided to change a job. Even if the salary is bigger and the benefit package is better, even if the new office is nearer home and there is a space in the company´s parking lot, there will still remain the ambiguity instilling a doubt. There will always be a space for that little voice that keeps asking what if…?
Things get more complicated when we imagine a person who wants to start a new business. It can either be a big international company trying to start operations in a new country, a super experienced executive who is planning to run an independent operation, or a housewife that is thinking of starting a bakery, uncertainty is the uninvited guest.
Let us imagine that the big enterprise has made an exhaustive analysis, a well-designed strategy, a budget and an operational plan, just as the executive superstar, and maybe the housewife has not. Who is brave enough to tell me which one amongst the three scenarios is going to be successful and which will not? Believe me, it is not as easy as it seems.
Business is a strange arena. You may be surprised how many housewife businesses have turned into wild victories and the many others, calculated up to the millimetres that have gone wrong. Silicon Valley is filled with examples of business that have started in a garage and today their products are changing our everyday lives. Yes, Steve Jobs is one of the main examples, but not the only one.
Faith is an element of business. As a matter of fact, faith is a core element in business. It constitutes step number one to start anything: a new job, project, or business. Believing that what we are about to start is good, is the best ingredient of the recipe. Nobody will start by saying I do not like this path unless he is crazy or silly or likes to suffer. Faith is not enough though, it is just the first step.
Business is an adventure that has to start with the real will to go for it, to make things happen. If such an impulse does not exist, then it is better not to start. But in the picture that it does exist, the adventurer will have to make reflections, listen to Bruce D. Henderson on competitive dynamics and Porter on competitive advantage and Punkaj Gehmawat on sustainable advantage and George Stalk on the source of innovation and Kenichi Ohmae on listening to customers and all the gurus on the administration field that have so many wise advises to give. And yet, even when all of that has already been made, when analysis has been applied to each and every part of the plan, turning to a poet´s words is not a bad idea. I trust that Samuel Taylor Coleridge was right.
Extra-analysis can lead to paralysis. I am a believer in analysis, but I also advice to put an end to it when time has come to become real. There is no way numbers can tell us what the future has reserved for our idea. There is no magic trick or any crystal sphere that will reveal the mystery of the future. There is no theory that will elude risk. There is no way to know if our idea is good or not if we leave it on paper. In order to unveil the mystery, the plan has to come to reality.
Business is a risky arena; it is in its nature. This scenario does not welcome all kind of persons, not everyone is invited. The guest list is exclusive, only adventurer spirits will be requested. Only courageous spirits will have fun. Failure is always a possibility, but failure is not the end of the road. The faster we acknowledge it, the merrier the road will become. I am not suggesting to freely go into making decisions without analysing as much as possible, because that is not what I believe should be done, what I am saying is that executives and entrepreneurs have to know when to stop playing with numbers and scenarios and turning dreams into real stuff.
That is the moment Samuel Taylor Coleridge defined so well, the very precise minute in which one has to stop doubting and willingly stop the disbelief. That is the very moment in which you start having faith in your idea. It is a matter of decision, of drive power. It is odd but it is true, making things happen is also a matter of faith. The first and the last step in the business arena is the very same one.