“If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.”
~ Ray Kroc, McDonald’s founder
One of my business mentors is a guy called Charlie Munger. He’s Warren Buffett‘s business partner, a fellow billionaire, and one of the smartest people on the planet.
A cornerstone to his success has been looking for problems before they become problems and doing everything he can to avoid them.
His exact words: “Invert, always invert: Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward. What happens if all our plans go wrong? Where don’t we want to go, and how do you get there?
Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead – through sloth, envy, resentment, self-pity, entitlement, all the mental habits of self-defeat. Avoid these qualities and you will succeed.
Tell me where I’m going to die, that is, so I don’t go there.”
Most of the problems you’ll face in business will be internal problems.
I forget who said this, but someone once told me most businesses don’t die due to starvation – they die due to indigestion.
They make unforced errors – like mismanaging cashflow. Or hiring the wrong person. Or ignoring a customer complaint, which turns into a legal issue. Or having a lagging fulfilment process that can’t keep up with sales, etc.
All of these challenges can suck up cash very fast. And there’s a strange habit of them all showing up at once, at the most inconvenient times. This is why making predictions about what could go wrong, and then proactively fixing them is so important.
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Remember to invert, always invert.
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