When you insert your opinion into the world, you need to be prepared for the possibility you might be wrong. It may be the timing, and people aren’t prepared for what you’re offering. But it may also mean that the path you chose just doesn’t work. You need to listen carefully to the feedback you receive to separate the two. Could what you’re doing work better with a few tweaks or at a later date? Or do you need to accept that it won’t work period and move on?
When you insert your opinion into the world, you may discover that people don’t understand your vision. You’ll need to listen carefully to feedback so you can separate the advice that’s worth acting on versus the advice that should be ignored. With this creative entrepreneurship comes a great deal of uncertainty. We don’t know if our gamble will work, but we can increase our resilience when it comes to handling uncertainty.
A few weeks ago, my daughter Lindsey called from the Salt Lake City, Utah, airport. She was on her way to serve a mission in Italy for the Mormon Church and had a chance to call us before she boarded her plane. Since the rest of the Richards family recently moved to New Zealand for a year, we’re all on what feel like crazy adventures.
While we talked, I told Lindsey that we loved New Zealand, but it was turning out to be harder than I expected. Wiser than I am, Lindsey, who is 19, laughed and said, “Dad, I think it’s funny that you are surprised by that. What did you expect? An awesome adventure with no challenges?”
The stereotypes we associate with business – boring, guys in suits, only about profit – aren’t the only options available to us. For me, I see creating and building a business as a way to insert our opinion into the world. That’s why entrepreneurship, at its core, is about creativity. Just imagine the difference you can make in the world if you choose to make your business a platform for supporting the change you want to see.
In a bit of detour, I’m doing a series that combines two things that I’m really passionate about: real financial advisors and entrepreneurship. Even if you work in a big firm, there’s still many aspects of the job that require you to act like an entrepreneur. Maybe you’re the principal of your own firm. If so, when you began, you were running a startup. It’s a fascinating overlap that I’ll explore in the next few episodes.
Just over a week ago, we learned that in 1995 Donald Trump “claimed almost a billion dollars in operating losses that could be used to avoid future federal income taxation.” On Sunday night during the presidential debate, he bragged about his tax expertise.
So let me just clear up something that should be obvious to most people. A net operating loss of $916 million in one year isn’t a good thing. This is true even if he was losing other people’s money. And it’s true even if it did “wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over 18 years.” It doesn’t make Mr. Trump a genius.
But I bring it up here because this kind of talk does reflect the thinking I’ve seen countless people use to justify spending (or losing) money. They think it actually saves them money, and it just isn’t so.
What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? I find it most interesting when entrepreneurs act like artists. They feel compelled to start something, and the business became a way to insert their opinion into the world. I’ve noticed that this definition describes many of the real financial advisors I know.
For real financial advisor we often have to walk a fine line between our opinions and what clients tell us they want to do. But we need to remember, what our values don’t trump our clients’. Of course, we need to give the best advice possible. But if two options exist and a client prefers one and we prefer the other, we shouldn’t try to force our preference on clients.
Remember that kid in your high-school geometry class who raised his hand and asked the question everyone knew the answer to? Remember how the class laughed and thought he was so dumb?
It turns out that kid wasn’t dumb. That kid was humble. More humble than most of us. And being humble, when it comes to money, is incredibly smart.
One of the hardest things for humans to do is allow a little slack in our systems. Of course, we should be going all the time. We’re wasting time if we don’t…except it leaves no room to avoid burn out. What happens when we add some slack and give ourselves room to breathe, to reinvest?