Entrepreneurs are anti-fragile

Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile, is a bible for entrepreneurs.

The theory is to set up your life in such a way that not only are you resilient to shocks, you actually benefit when adversity strikes.

One of the best examples he uses is debt. Debt makes you fragile. If interest rates go up or the bank calls in the loan, you’re in trouble.

Not having debt makes you resilient. Having lots of cash makes you anti-fragile.

Being anti-fragile means devising a strategy whereby you benefit from unpleasant shocks to the system.

Like when you can’t find decent coffee.

I used to be the guy who simply wouldn’t drink coffee unless it was excellent. The problem with that strategy is that I was vulnerable to painful shocks when in a strange town and unable to find excellent coffee (i.e.: all towns between Cape Town and Johannesburg).

So I changed tack. I started drinking instant coffee again, and I started liking it, again. So now I’m anti-fragile to coffee.

If there’s great coffee available that’s awesome! If there’s only Ricoffy that’s awesome too!

Thank you Nassim Taleb.

Here are some other tips for anti-fragility:

  • Stick to simple rules
  • Keep your options open
  • Don’t get consumed by data
  • Resist the urge to suppress randomness
  • Make sure that you have your soul in the game
  • Experiment and tinker — take lots of small risks
  • Avoid risks that, if lost, would wipe you out completely
  • Build in redundancy and layers (no single point of failure)
  • Respect the old — look for habits and rules that have been around for a long time
  • Focus more on avoiding things that don’t work than trying to find out what does work

When adversity strikes you should not only survive, you should thrive!

Set up your life and business in such a way that you ensure no matter what happens, you benefit.

It’s a form of opportunism. Everything that happens, good or bad, creates opportunity.

You want to be in a position to be able to take advantage of any opportunities that arise.

That means having cash in hand. It also means loving what you do.

Sometimes you simply can’t avoid failure.

Even the best entrepreneur in the world can’t save a business on a receding tide, no matter how much cash she has in hand.

At least if you love what you do you haven’t wasted your time. No matter whether you win or lose, you’ve benefited.

If you love what you do, you’re anti-fragile.


Originally published at The Big Almanack.

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