Turning Crisis into Opportunity

Last night NEF candidates, alumni, friends and supporters gathered at Google Campus to hear war stories and words of encouragement from four entrepreneurs who have, at many stages in their careers, turned crisis into opportunity. They were:

Shahbaz Ali, CEO, TARMIN

Jenny Campbell, CEO, YourCash

Charlie Osmond, Co-founder of FreshMinds Group

Eze Vidra, Head of Google Campus

These panellists shared very personal examples of crises with our audience. The examples ranged from the harrowing story of being forced into liquidating his company by an investor, to the everyday trials and tribulations of running a company: having to fire people, losing people, investors pulling out, products breaking or being cancelled at the eleventh hour.

The themes which emerged were ones which have been highlighted throughout the year: the importance of leadership, resilience and self-awareness. Get good people around you as they are the ones who will go to war with you and stand by you in crisis; when you’re going through hell, keep going; learn from your mistakes.

And a couple of other pearls of wisdom…

  • You must lead in a crisis. Never stop believing in your dream. Selling the dream is part of being an entrepreneur
  • Embrace ‘Optimalism’ not ‘Perfectionism’. The latter does not allow room for mistakes and sees success as a simple upward trajectory. This is unrealistic and unhelpful. Optimalism sees the journey to success as a bumpy road with big ups and big downs
  • Work on how you see the world: remind yourself every day that it is not a question of ‘if’ you fail, but ‘when’ you fail. Mourn the losses and then learn from them and move on.Work on how you see yourself: do not take failure or rejection personally. Know your self-worth. You are smart and could find a job if it all goes wrong. You have friends and are unlikely to be homeless if it all goes wrong. Use this to bolster your confidence
  • See crisis as opportunity and embrace the challenges. Some of our guests argued that dealing with crisis is the best bit about being an entrepreneur because it makes you feel alive…

A couple of books were mentioned by the speakers which helped them greatly. They were…

The Lean StartUp, Eric Reis

The Start-up of you, Reid Hoffman

The Pursuit of Perfect,  Tal Ben-Shahar 

Oh. And Merry Christmas from NEF!