On Paper I Was Once a Millionaire

On paper I was once a millionaire. Informal investors valued my Internet start-up at 10 million euros, and I owned 70 percent of the financial fiction they created around me. I was even awarded the title of Entrepreneur of the Year, because I was so good at describing my vision. And my diagrams of expected revenues and profits looked fabulous, on paper.

But the money that we invested didn’t result in more profits. The extra content we created did not bring more visitors to our site. The programmers we hired did not significantly increase the number of our features. And the deals we made with other sites did not result in increased advertising. In fact, we were earning less than before the first round of investments. I’m sure you wouldn’t even know the name of our less-than-glorious site if I told you. We created as much buzz as a fruit fly in a hurricane. And when the dot-com bubble burst it wiped out our little venture, like all the rest around us.

But we had fun. And we learned. Oh, how we learned! If it’s true that people learn from mistakes, then by now I must be pretty close to the status of an Omniscient Being. As development manager, project manager, and software developer, I made so many mistakes, it is strange I didn’t bring the whole Internet down with me. But learning we did.

One thing I learned is that no matter what you plan, it is not going to happen. The world doesn’t work that way. The system you live in doesn’t care about your plans. You may think that A leads to B, and in theory you might even be right. But theory never works in practice, and causality has a devious and twisted mind.

So, if you’re considering your own business, the best survival trick I can give you is not to predict anything. Whatever happens, don’t be surprised, just seize the opportunity. You can gamble with your money, and put it in this lottery that you call your “small business start-up”, but instead of the first prize a giant chicken will appear out of thin air, and land on your desk.

Don’t be surprised. Grab the chicken, and sell it.

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