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The Entrepreneur’s Challenge

May 28, 2019

One of the greatest challenges entrepreneurs face is the need to be fully committed to a project, idea, cycle, platform, or product while also being willing and able to adapt.

Most of us find ourselves falling into one of two camps: fully committed or easily adaptable. There are benefits to each, but there are risks if we can’t balance both.

1. Fully Committed

This fully committed person will see the project through until the end no matter what. They have an idea or concept that they believe in and will push through obstacles, distractions, criticisms, and even failure to bring it to life. These people are consistent. This drive is admirable and positive. In fact, entrepreneurs cannot succeed unless they fully execute their projects. But the risk is that this person can sometimes be too rigid and too locked into their way of doing things. Even when the facts and data say that it’s time to change, this person struggles to adapt or to take a different course.

2. Easily Adaptable

Many entrepreneurs, especially the ones who always have new ideas, are willing and ready to adapt, to shake things up, and to change in order to make the new product a success. They can stay agile, shift the messaging, and even change the offering to make it appeal to the customer. They are the first to implement a new system and also the first to vote to scrap that system in favor of something new. While this tendency scares and intimidates a lot of people, this is the boat I find myself in; this comes naturally to me. The risk for someone like me is that we might abandon too quickly. We are ready to move on before we’ve given a new project a full shot. And because our eye is always on adapting, we don’t always give the execution a true chance.

Any successful product, project, or company is the result of executing with excellence while remaining agile enough to change when it’s necessary.

When looking for inspiration, we can find other people and organizations that do this well. Chick-fil-A is a prime example.

Chick-fil-A initially built their business on operating restaurants in mall food courts. However, they didn’t just stay in malls. Even when malls were thriving and business was going well, Chick-fil-A began to explore a new strategy of operating free-standing stores. They remained committed to the mall strategy but explored a new one. Now, they have the best free-standing fast food restaurants in the industry, which worked out well since most malls are struggling. However, Chick-fil-A is still willing to adapt, troubleshooting ways to deliver food, testing take-home meal kits, and exploring a world of mobile technology and convenience. They are staying committed to excellence in their free-standing stores while finding new ways to serve their customers.

If we are going to find a way to be fully committed and willing to adapt, there are two things we must do:

  1. Understand your bias. Know if you are more willing to commit or more willing to adapt. Until you’ve acknowledged your preference, you won’t be able to adequately work on your weakness.
  2. Surround yourself with people who complement you. If you are hyper committed, do you have people close to you that adapt easily? If you are hyper adaptable, do you have people close to you that are committed to seeing projects through to the end?
Each of us need individuals or systems that help us balance both. 
By the way, this truth doesn’t just apply to entrepreneurs. It applies to many areas of life. 
Do you have your baby on a schedule? Maybe you are so adaptable that it’s difficult for your child to fall into any sort of routine. Or maybe you are so rigid with the schedule that your child doesn’t easily adapt to new environments. 
Have you ever tried a new diet plan? Maybe you were so committed that you stuck to the same plan for months even though you experienced no change. Or maybe you adapt so quickly that you gave up after three days when you didn’t see an immediate result. 
How do you respond to relationships? Maybe your appetite for change has you getting bored and moving on too quickly before you’ve really given it a chance to work. On the other hand, maybe you remain committed to hurtful relationships for far too long. 
We’ve got to be willing to change, and we need to stick to our commitments. Understand your bias, and surround yourself with people who push you to see a different perspective.

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