Recently, I saw a parent teaching a child how to ride a bike. It made me smile to see both the excitement and fear on the little boy’s face as he said “now don’t let go ‘til I tell you,” and then the joy when he realized he was riding all by himself.
Entrepreneurs face that fear and excitement constantly in the early days of a business. And much like a child who will only learn how to ride a bike, by riding a bike, running a business is the same. The issue is we get jaded and become more cautious and won’t take the risks we did as kids. Kids have that wonderful mindset that isn’t cluttered up with “what is,” like most of us adults. They live in wonder about “what could be.” They see a bike, see others riding bikes, and figure how hard can it really be? It’s muscle memory once you get the hang of it, but it’s a leap of faith on that first ride because you’ve never experienced it before.
If more entrepreneurs looked at their business challenges and opportunities as new adventures, (a new bike ride), instead of something scary or dangerous, or less comfortable than where they are now, more innovation would happen. More risks would be taken, more would be won than lost, and more confidence would be built into the business – more muscle memory, if you will.
The minute we start playing it safe, we backslide. The business exists, growth is at single digits, and we’re okay with the status quo because we “know” what could happen if we risk anything. The real risk is to not risk trying. We need to “think like a kid” who hops on that bike not knowing. Sure he might get a banged up knee or two, but it’s unlikely that he’ll die. Same goes for a business – what if we didn’t “know” what would happen, what might happen instead?
If Jeff Bezos had not started selling books online and amassing one of the most valuable databases and distributions systems in the world, what would online retailing look like now? If he had listened to everyone around him, he would never have gotten on the bike, but he did and look at the results.
Look around your business and see what you need to do or try because what you “know” is probably incorrect. It might have been true at one point, but it’s now become a ball and chain against innovation. Just pick one thing that you’ve been afraid to try or to implement and pretend you’re learning to ride that bike again – just have someone hold the seat until you’re ready to ride! You’ll be glad you did.