Practical Growth

Entrepreneurs are both optimistic and realistic

Entrepreneurs are optimistic. They find hard problems and think “I could fix that.”

Normal people don’t do this. Most people run into problems or frustrations and just think “that sucks.”

A big part of any entrepreneurial opportunity is the fact that nobody else is trying to fix it (yet).

If everyone were trying to fix it already, there wouldn’t be much opportunity left for the entrepreneur.

Opportunity exists where there is an unfixed AND important problem that isn’t obvious yet.

The optimism of “crazy” entrepreneurs is actually much more realistic than people think.

It’s not simple naivete or simply hope.

It’s “I see this problem and I’m going to do the hard things to solve it for these people.”

That’s just opportunity disguised as hard work, courage, and grit. And well-managed risk.

During the COVID lockdown and meltdown of spring 2020, I saw many great examples of realistic optimism.

Things were melting down. Hard decisions were being made. It was a desperate time for a lot of software companies and founders I know.

But they kept saying “We’re going to figure this out” and “It will be OK” as they were dealing with hard realities very quickly.

A few months later, some of the most experienced founders were telling me, “This is the best thing that could have happened to our business” when they weren’t out of the woods yet.

Regardless of the challenge, they were telling a positive and useful story about it.

They didn’t ignore their challenges. They were CHOOSING to tell themselves and others the MOST USEFUL version of the story.

That’s entrepreneurial optimism.

  • It might not work, but there’s a good chance.
  • It will be brutally hard, but we can do it.
  • I don’t have all the answers, but we’ll figure it out.

Did they KNOW that their optimistic scenario was going to work?


But the pessimistic scenario probably had the same odds.

So if those are equally likely…

Why not choose the most useful version of the story and go all in 100%?

That’s optimism.

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