Entrepreneurship Is Like A
Half-Court Basketball Shot
The success of each often depends on taking more than one shot.
By DAILY TREASURER
I recently have been in the process of trying new things. After reading some books and doing some honest thinking, I realized that my tendency is to stick with what’s familiar and comfortable. This isn’t an earth-shattering realization. I have known this for a while, and I knew that I needed to do something if I wanted things in my life to change.
I knew I needed less thinking, and more doing. Within the past couple of weeks, it has clicked in my mind that I grew up in environments that prized perfection over persistence. God bless my parents and teachers growing up, but I was raised to understand that doing well often meant the need to be perfect with no second chances.
I had one chance to do well on an exam. One chance to get into a good college. One chance to make choices in life that would determine the course of my life, for the rest of my life. If anything, this “you have one shot” mentality was a product of societal expectations.
THE TURNING POINT
Entrepreneurship and innovation fascinate me. I have been reading books and listening to podcasts of entrepreneurs who share their insights as to what has brought them to the success they are experiencing today. I picked up on a few things.
1. It is common for successful entrepreneurs to have tried and failed many times before their first success. Remember what I said about persistence? Some of the best entrepreneurs keep trying out new and different things before they finally arrive at a successful idea. They were not deterred by their multiple failures. Rather, they believed that reaching success was a matter of knocking on enough doors of opportunity before one finally opened.
I began to think that the quest for a successful entrepreneurship idea is a lot like trying to make a half-court shot in basketball. You might get lucky and make the shot on your first attempt, but it is highly unlikely. The more shots you take, the better your chances of making that shot.
“…the quest for a successful entrepreneurship idea is a lot like trying to make a half-court shot in basketball. You might get lucky and make the shot on your first attempt, but it is highly unlikely. The more shots you take, the better your chances of making that shot.”
I feel like society has taught us that we need to do everything we can to make that half-court shot in one attempt. We need to calculate the optimal angle at which the ball leaves our hands. We need to figure out how many revolutions per minute the ball should spin off of our hands. We need to figure out whether it is better for the ball to hit the backboard, or if we want to try to swish the shot. What ends up being done is everything other than actually attempting the shot.
And, the most frustrating part? No matter how much we try to calculate and analyze the optimal numbers and methods, we will probably still end up missing the shot. In the time I spent making all of these calculations, I could have already made that half-court shot using the more non-scientific approach of “do it and learn from my mistakes.”
Sure, my first shot might have been terrible. I might have even been facing the wrong way. But, at least I know that I need to make an adjustment or two. For my next shot, I would know to at least face the basket. Then, I might not throw the ball far enough. At least I would know to throw the ball with more power on the next attempt. And, if I figure that making a half-court shot is not worth my time and a lost cause? I could move onto some other endeavor.
The point is that the cookie-cutter approach in life of believing that “we only have one big shot or else we lose our chance” is limiting a lot of potential innovation and persistence in this world. Even from the standpoint that we are all unique, we naturally create based on our characteristics and quirks.
“…the cookie-cutter approach in life of believing that “we only have one big shot or else we lose our chance” is limiting a lot of potential innovation and persistence in this world.”
2. The wants and demands of society change so quickly, that we have to keep up with those changes in order to maintain success.
What do Kodak and Blockbuster have in common? They were business giants in their respective industries before a digital revolution took over. Both businesses were unable to adapt quickly enough to society’s changing demands and preferences.
We live in an age where information is distributed and absorbed almost as quickly as it is created and produced. Trends seem to come and go quicker than one can ask, “What’s trending?” Constant innovation is seemingly no longer a luxury, but a necessity, in today’s world. If history is to repeat itself, we need to be aware that sitting comfortably on current success does not guarantee future success.
So, how am I putting these principles into practice? The concept of sales makes me nervous, especially as someone who is naturally shy and introverted. I recently put myself in an uncomfortable situation and decided to try selling something to people that I know.
I had a brand new Google Home Mini that I had been wanting to sell for a while. I had thought of selling it on eBay, but the fees and shipping would barely net me any meaningful profit. I had no choice but to advertise to friends. I set a price (higher than I normally would, which also took me out of my comfort zone), and started to spread the word.
Long story short, I ended up finding a buyer within a few hours of getting the word out. By getting out of my comfort zone (multiple times), I was able to squash the notions that I could not be good at reaching out to people and selling something. The fact that there was a buyer helped a lot, but I think just the thrill of trying something I would not normally try was empowering.
I am getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable, and that is not a bad thing. I am going to keep shooting those half-court shots until I make one, celebrate a little bit, and then look for the next half-court shot to make. The ball is on your court, and it is time for you to shoot your shot.