Guest Post

Be Irrational.

by Brad Oberwager

"Finding your nerve" is not always easy for an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs get credit for being risk takers, but to the contrary, I believe entrepreneurs are quite poor at analyzing risks. I have never started a company I did not think was going to be successful! While this may sound foolish — and it's certainly irrational — it is also how entrepreneurs create solutions and overcome adversity.

If entrepreneurs viewed the risks we face rationally (risk/reward), few of us would have started our companies. Capital, strategy, competition and customers are all components of a successful venture and are not always under our control. Looking at the venture holistically, with confidence, and maybe a touch of irrationality, is the only way to convince yourself you are going to be successful. That belief is what drives us to start down the path of entrepreneurship, giving us the nerve to start a company.

Building something from nothing takes a lot of nerve. Every day brings a new challenge, and rough economic times can be particularly challenging. For example, we had to refinance debt when the credit markets collapsed. When you have a crisis of that magnitude and you find yourself literally spending every conscious moment working to solve the problem, you can become so physically and emotionally tired that you really have to have an irrational belief in what you're doing to keep going. You have to have faith – faith in yourself and in your team.

Most of us identify with our occupations or professions. We're lawyers, doctors, bankers, teachers, and so forth. But in the case of entrepreneurs, what links who we are and what we do professionally is even more compelling. In the eyes of every investor, customer, employee, we are the business – when it fails and when it succeeds. We know that we aren't the only ones responsible since there are so many people and things that make a business successful, but that doesn't make a rational difference. When the odds of success are stacked against you, and they always are, you really have to be a little irrational to go for it. You need passion and nerve to persevere when you're identified so closely with the business.

Brad Oberwager, who started his first consumer products company in 1997, is Founder, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of his third venture: Sundia Corporation, Forbes' sixth Most Promising Young Company of 2009.

  1. Brad:

    Seems you perfectly captured the ball of emotion that most entrepreneurs carry around with us all the time, ranging from fears and doubts on the one hand to elation and confidence on the other.

    At the end of the day, that willingness to plow forward is either pushed from behind by not being willing to succumb to the negatives or pulled forward by successes and wins. Either way, it’s a fun ride and most entrepreneurs would have it no other way.

    Steve and MWC crew, great idea on this site! Another example of clear thinking by a talented group of people.

    David Wiggs
    Seattle, WA

    Comment by David Wiggs — 10/15/2009 @ 1:32 PM

  2. Thanks for the wise words and encouragement! I’m somewhat new to entrepreneurship (started my company a little over a year ago) and it’s great to hear that my occasional irrationality is not only normal but necessary!

    Godspeed in your pursuits Brad!

    The only easy day was yesterday!

    Adam Wainio
    Orlando, FL

    Comment by Adam Wainio — 10/15/2009 @ 3:04 PM

  3. Great read and so true! Thanks for the post.

    Elizabeth Gordon
    Silicon Valley

    Comment by Elizabeth Gordon — 10/15/2009 @ 3:29 PM

  4. This is one of my favorites to date from You perfectly describe what is feels like be an entrepreneur. How many successful companies started out as crazy ideas?

    Well done!
    Esther Steinfeld | Public Relations Manager

    Comment by Esther Steinfeld — 10/16/2009 @ 10:47 AM

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