Burn The Boats (Part One)

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     In 1519, a Spanish Conquistador, Hernán Cortés, took 600 men and sailed to the Yucatan Peninsula in search of the world’s richest treasure. To do so, he had to conquer the Aztec Empire. This was a seemingly insurmountable mission for his small army against an indigenous people that understood the landscape and had far greater resources. Cortés was committed and so he was rumored to have ordered his men burn the 11 boats they arrived on. In fact, history shows that he had them scuddled, sunk. It doesn’t matter. Cortés wanted to eliminate the possibility of retreat. There were only two options: victory or death. Death was a very strong incentive not to fail. Cortés and his men were victorious.

     Most people, when they decide to take on an endeavor that involves a high level of risk, have a back up plan, a plan B. There is logic in this especially if you have people who depend on you, a wife, and kids for example. If you have spent 20 years developing a career with a stable and predictable income, it’s hard to leave for something that is high risk and unsure. The world is littered with souls that have given it a go and had to return to their back up plan after failing.

     Becoming an entrepreneur involves a high level of risk. There is money involved, perhaps someone else’s money. Most new start up business take several years before becoming profitable. There are all sorts of things that can go wrong. There could be an economic downturn, an underestimation of profit margins, instability of workforce, or a global pandemic. There could be an event that is almost impossible to predict. The variables are endless. So, having a backup plan makes logical sense.

Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I hate plan B.” I really do.

     Here’s the thing. There is a heavy price that must be paid in the form of time and energy. The emotional, psychological, and physical toll it takes to become a successful entrepreneur will take your breath away. It takes a 100% commitment and an adherence to the reason, the why, you started in the first place. Having a plan B or an exit strategy in your back pocket when things get tough is the opposite of full and 100% commitment.

……. To be continued in part 2.

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