Entrepreneurs feel fear too – just not when it comes to their businesses

by Ivan Mazour

felix-620_1601553aA few minutes ago, I took off from Heathrow on a short flight to France, and noticed once again the intrinsic and uncontrollable fear that went through my mind and body as the plane went through its usual period of turbulence. I remember, very clearly, never being afraid of this as a child. I looked forward to the roller coaster-like physical forces that I’d experience during the plane journeys back to Moscow for every school holiday. And yet at some point, a point I do not remember, this changed.

Entrepreneurs are always described as people who not only aren’t afraid to take risks, but actually crave taking them. Based on this, and how I’m currently feeling, it seems I’m not made to be an entrepreneur – it is clear that my subconscious is not comfortable with the tiny, statistically insignificant risk of this plane getting in trouble. But this deduction wouldn’t be correct. There is more to it.

Last week I had lunch with two very smart individuals – a highly intelligent technology journalist, and a CEO of a software company which has just confirmed their IPO for September. We had a fascinating discussion, where we compared differences in our character traits. The CEO was brought in a few years after the company was started, in order to run it as it scaled and became a global corporation. He pointed out something he had noticed about entrepreneurs, who, like me, seemed to ignore all of the risks of starting companies. It’s not that entrepreneurs like to take risks, he said. It’s just that when it comes to their businesses, they simply don’t see them.

And as I sit here, I understand exactly what he means. I don’t see the risks in Ometria. Our industry is huge, the growth potential is even bigger, and the opportunities are almost endless. The market has been analysed, and the financial model has been prepared in full detail. My team is the best. It’s not even 9am on the first day I’m away from the office, and I’m already itching to find out what they’ve been up to. There will be obstacles and we will need to overcome them, but I understand the rules of the game, and now it’s just making sure I play well. There are no risks, just a challenge. Things aren’t certain – where would be the fun in that, anyway – but overall, I feel in control.

This plane however, definitely seems like a risk. I don’t understand the rules of the game. I have no idea whether this model was designed without any flaws. I don’t know the team who did the pre-flight checks. And I can’t see whether the pilot has decided to have a quick nap. The point is – I am not in control, and I can’t even give myself the false sense of being in control that would shut down this pointless, completely unactionable fear response. And this is a great lesson. If I ever have this feeling towards my company, then something is wrong. As long as I don’t – we are on the right track.


Find out more on the about Ivan Mazour page.
And watch Ivan Mazour's TEDx Talk - "Why we shouldn't be scared of sharing our personal data".

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