Faith, Hope and Strategy – an Entrepreneur’s Life

An entrepreneur’s favorite word is “yes.” We are perpetual optimists. Success is always possible. If you ever stop believing that, shut your operation down immediately and find something else to do that will make money.

Put simply, we take a leap of faith daily. Faith is “taking that which is not as though it already is,” and connotes a rational sense of certain expectation. It defines an entrepreneur’s life. However, reality can get in the way of your great story.

Often, the world seems to turn against you: prototypes don’t meet specifications, deadlines are missed, suppliers fail to perform, or random chance throws a wrench in the works. Under such conditions, your confidence and faith in your dream can wane.

Perhaps we should change our mantra to “Yes….but” We must be forward looking with the “but” as a caution to be sure we also understand our constraints, competition and the market.

Success is possible, but only by recognizing barriers, accepting reality and overcoming true obstacles. In business, this is generally correlated to the validity of your assumptions. While this may appear self-evident, twenty-five years of entrepreneurship has taught me that accepting this fact is often rare.

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In this respect, it is important to note that Faith is not the same thing as Hope, which is the want of something to happen or be the case. Wishful thinking does not overcome constraints. It often creates false or overblown expectations.

Ultimately,we must manage our own expectations as well as those of our customers in order to be successful. After all, “Hope” is not a strategy.

Strategy is the methodology by which we allocate limited resources to accomplish prioritized objectives in a competitive environment. It is more than just a plan, it is a continuous way of thinking that requires us to always keep the end game in sight.

Optimism requires a supreme effort. Developing a good Strategic Plan is the best way to align expectations with reality, which will allow you to maintain faith in your success in the face of an often harsh reality.

Strategy is the handmaiden of Faith.

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Dave Clark

Dave Clark taught Strategy at West Point and is a co-founder of FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.