Which is Better for an Entrepreneur - Optimism or Realism?

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Entrepreneur - Optimism or Realism?

Starting your own business often takes something of a herculean effort.  You have to write a business plan, find financing, determine a legal structure, register your business, obtain licenses and permits, etc., etc., etc.  And that’s just what it takes to get the darn thing off the ground; you haven’t even started the process of actually running a small business at that point.  It’s a process not for the faint of heart, one which requires a good deal of gumption just to attempt.

With all that being said, it is a wonder that anyone attempts to run the harrowing gauntlet of entrepreneurship.  Approximately 50 percent of all small businesses fail within the first year.  That number skyrockets to 95 percent within the first five years.  You can look at these statistics as either a warning or a challenge for potential entrepreneurs, but no matter what your perspective, it’s obvious that it takes a certain disposition to be successful in the world of small business.

But what exactly is the most constructive outlook for a young entrepreneur first starting off?  Should you acknowledge the doom and gloom of an uncertain fate, or is it better to ignore the intimidating odds against success and plow forward with unwavering vigor?   

On the one hand, if you don’t remain optimistic throughout the startup process it becomes a lot more difficult to rationalize the long hours and inherent stresses that come with entrepreneurship.  You have to know that all of your blood, sweat, and tears will pay off and yours will be included in that 5 percent of businesses that make it to the fifth year.  You have to believe in your product, believe in yourself, and believe that no matter what, you’re going to succeed.

On the other hand, without a good dose of realism infused in your thought process it becomes very difficult to accurately plan for the future.  Starting a business is hard work and there a multitude of variables that could pop up at any time, eager to derail even your best efforts.  With devout realism comes the intrinsic ability to anticipate pratfalls along the road to success.  That trait might very well be the difference between a business that makes it and one that doesn’t.  

So what do you think, when starting a business is it more important to be optimistic or realistic?