Shaa Wasmund: Action vs patience

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' motto.

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 first place?

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 two.

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.

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