The Importance of Patience

They say patience is a virtue, and in startups, that’s never been more true. A.T. Gimbel shares about the importance of patience.

A.T. Gimbel
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November 17, 2020

Buckle up because there will be highs and lows in the journey

Patience is a valuable skill that is often hard to come by in today’s fast-paced society. We want instant answers and gratification. If you have children or challenging co-workers or employers, you often run thin on patience. As a startup founder, there can be a false perception of these overnight success stories, when in fact building a business requires lots of patience and grit. One of our portfolio companies, Rigor, recently announced they had been acquired. That great outcome took over 10 years and lots of hard work from the time the company started.

Be prepared

A lot of times we fool ourselves into thinking things happen quicker than they will. Every financial forecast I have seen has a hockey stick that usually starts too early. Many entrepreneurs think building that one more product feature will instantly propel the business forward. I love the quote “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” Know you are playing the long game and that things will often take longer than you think in the immediate future.

Trust the Process

As I have written before, I am a big fan in trusting the process vs. focusing on short-term results that can be bumpy. In the long-run your actions will more likely yield the expected result vs. in the short-term that result may be skewed by outliers. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t adjust your process and refine your business idea based on new information; but rather don’t throw everything away just from one bad result (a lost sale, a lost customer, a poor month, etc.). From a statistical perspective, the more time/data points you have, the more the results converge on the expected value vs. swinging too high or too low.

Do the right thing

Lastly, there is a lot of temptation to sacrifice the long-term for the near-term. This temptation could be in the form of signing a deal that won’t make money, spinning results to look more favorable to investors, making strategic decisions to look better for quarterly results or prop up an acquisition candidate. Or even worse making moral decisions that ultimately undermine your trust and relationships. Don’t make an emotional decision today under pressure that you will look back on ten years from now with regret. Time and mentors are two great ways to reality check any critical decisions.

Trust yourself, remember you are playing a long-game where you win with persistence and effort, not flash and manipulation. Lastly, buckle up because there will be highs and lows in the journey … but be patient and you can make it!

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