Jan 8, 2014

Enough is enough!

Vishen Lakhiani said it today on his Facebook, "entrepreneurship is one of the most stressful, roller coaster rides of anyone's life. And more than business savvy, being mentally fit is paramount!" That was short and sharp, and I couldn't agree more.

Naah, I'm not going to whine for the stress I have being an entrepreneur. Not today. but I want to share one important lesson I learned that has helped me to stay mentally fit, and kept me going whenever the pressure is on.

There are loads of research that discuss the skill set every entrepreneur needs to cope with all the challenges ahead. In fact, if we, (please say my favorite phrase) "do our homework," we can find many articles about it on Google. Now, I just want to point out one, and that, is knowing when to say: "enough is enough!"

Before I share my story, please note that this can be applied to different situations. And I believe it is essential for everyone to know when to say it, or using Eric Ries' words, when to pivot.

So here it is.

When my friends and I started Arabian Meal in 2009, the one and only purpose at the time was to raise fund for Wangsa Jelita's product development. To cut a long story short, the business was a failure. Although we could clearly see the sign after a couple of months, we chose to persevere until a year. So instead of helping Wangsa Jelita, Arabian Meal was draining its cash.

Looking back, I can see that we made three big mistakes that had kept us from saying the words.

When we decided to use Arabian Meal to raise fund, we're supposed to see Arabian Meal as nothing but a tool. However, along the way, we got distracted and looked at it as a destination. Thus we kept running and became willing to spend and spend until we ran out of money. We were blinded from other opportunities that we could take to reach the real goal - raising fund for Wangsa Jelita.

I notice that one of reasons why it's hard for me to say that "enough is enough" was because the fear of the change that might occur after. Like in many other cases, the uncertainty that awaits ahead when we change our direction, more often than not, scares us big time.

I believe many people will agree that uncertainty sucks.

But no, the problem was not with the uncertainty. In my case and many others', the problem was with the fact that we didn't prepare ourselves enough to face it in a way that we could minimize it.

Before my team finally said, "okay, that's it, Arabian Meal. You're done!" We were very certain that the plan would work. Why? Because in the first few weeks we ran the business, we haven't just reached our target - we've smashed it! I will never forget how we managed to serve hundreds of breads in few hours on the first day, while the target was waaaay less than that.

I think Charlie Rae was right. If false hope is the only thing that keeping us alive, we'll be dead by dawn. Yes, we were hanging on too long to the false hope, so instead of taking a moment to evaluate the progress regularly and (re)structure our way, we kept running for we believed that "hey it did work, just keep going!"

I can see how hanging on to a false hope made us physically and mentally exhausted. It made us busy doing the same thing over and over and expecting better outcomes, for which Einstein had a name - insanity!

FYI. Arabian Meal finally died after a year. It might be too late to say the word but we're grateful that at least we didn't let it dragged Wangsa Jelita down completely.
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Lastly, a note to myself and everyone of us, what we have to keep in mind is the importance to evaluate objectively and regularly. And more importantly, the second we notice that there's something that weirds us out and/or in some ways potentially harms us, do not waste much time and do consider to say this,

Enough is enough.
I'm done.