27 January 2010 by Sophie
Smarta's founder explains why patience
isn't always a virtue.
OK, I have to declare my self interest as I write this blog. I
am somewhat biased, because I don't have the patience of a snail,
let alone a saint. I am also a big fan of Nike's 'Just Do It'
Now I have laid my cards on the table, I shall begin.
Like almost everything, deciding between patience and action is a
balancing act. How do we compulsive entrepreneurial types learn to
become a bit more considered and patient, and how do we do it
without killing the very instinct that made us successful in the
Some say: "Patience is wisdom and a virtue."
Undoubtedly I have demonstrated a great lack of patience in my
time. As any of the Smarties (affectionate name for those people
who work at Smarta) will tell you, I frequently hover over their
desks looking at new ideas, designs and concepts. Then all of a
sudden I pipe up with: "I know, let's do a really brilliant eBook
and get all the people we rate and respect to collaborate so that
we can showcase the Smartest Brains in Business.... For free" And
there goes all the planning and resources for the next week or
In this instance, I feel my action was justified. I felt it was a
great idea (as opposed to just a good idea). And it was time
sensitive. It had to be done by the middle of January and it would
be a great way to get the Smarta brand exposed to people who had
yet to realise just how brilliant we are!
If I had showed more patience it wouldn't have happened.
However, I am really, truly trying to manage my impulsive
behaviour - without losing the very DNA that lets Smarta punch
above its weight. When it comes to board meetings, cash flow
forecasts and balance sheets, I'm patient. We double and triple
check every last detail. When it comes to analysing our data, we
are almost obsessive. We don't rush anything.
When we really believe in what we are doing, we sure as hell don't
give up at the first hurdle. Ironically, in these situations, I
become the most patient and tenacious person ever.
We had to be patient with Smarta. It took so much longer to get it
right than we originally thought. There were all kinds of reasons
for that, not least of which the challenging economy we found
ourselves launching into.
Did I ever think: "It's not working quickly enough"? Every day.
Did I ever think of losing my patience and giving up? Never.
Some things just can't be rushed... Like SEO... Oh boy, you need some
patience for that.
Other things, like creative ideas, are actually killed by too much
patience and analysis. 'Analysis paralysis', as I used to say. Many
ideas can be tested without too much time, effort or money. If they
are going to fail, let them fail fast. Don't spend three months
deliberating, only to find it was never going to work anyway.
Understand the difference between what you can do today and what
you can't. Then: "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can
do today". Corny, but true.