Tagged serendipity


Lessons learnt from our first business: stay open to serendipity

My husband and I have been working on a side project recently. At first we wanted to generate some revenue so we could afford the Leica camera which he had been longing for years. Then one thing led to another, and we decided to put his engineering knowledge and my internet skill into use so we could create a small personal business. The preparation for our first product was both daunting and hilarious, and it taught us so much more than we had expected.

Stay open to serendipity

One thing that I’ve learnt from life in cooperations is that we hate unplanned event: it interrupts the agenda, it excesses the budget, it messes up the annual plan and it stresses everyone up. To avoid accidents, we plan daily, weekly, monthly and annually to make sure that things will follow a designed path and nothing is out of control.

While this have its positive aspect in organisations, in personal life, tendency to plan for everything beforehand prevents serendipity coming to us. We might stay in our comfort zone, keep doing the same thing that we are good at, follow a life path that we or our families have planned for us. The several times that I loosed my guard and let uncertainties happen to my life  always brought me good surprises.

My husband and I are both engineers, we are good at many things, but one thing that we both aren’t good at is dealing with money, which we thought is the expertise of financial guys. Since we decided to earn money instead of save money for the Leica camera, we suddenly became more creative about doing things. We attended courses about business; we started to do investment; we learned selling skills that we never thought would be useful for engineers. One small step led to another, and we started to try out business ideas. Our original goal, the Leica camera, was not that important comparing to the new hobbies that we both found on the way.

If we never decided that it was OK to try things that we were unfamiliar with, we would have been putting aside a small amount of money each month. We might have already bought the camera by now, but we would miss all the fun about learning new things and challenging ourselves.

Stop worry about “what ifs” , and focus on “what is”

One reason that serendipities won’t come to our lives is that we’ve killed them in our minds. When we have an idea and won’t do something on the spot, then our logical sense gets in the way bringing all kinds of doubts, eventually we decide that the idea is stupid. More than often, we spend too much time worrying about things that will never happen that we don’t have enough energy to deal with matters before our eyes. I’ve learnt this from my own experience.

Before my husband and I started to work on our first product, we spent almost 6 months doing(worrying) the(for) research(nothing):

What if we chose the wrong topic?

What if we don’t have enough engineering knowledge and people find the course too easy?

What if people hate the course and start sharing bad comments about our course?

What if people steal our content and share it on the internet?

What if we price it too expensive and nobody will buy?

What if we price it too cheap and people would associate it with poor quality?

What if the system broke and we can’t provide constant service?

What if nobody buys and it will traumatise us so much that we will never try it again?

We wanted to make sure that we have solutions for all these potential dangers before getting our hands dirty. To answer these questions, we were reading books, running surveys, talking to friends. The truth is as we answered some questions, there were more coming out. The more we understand about this topic, the more risks we can foresee, and the less courage we have to take any action.

Finally we were tired of the endless research and decided to start doing something even though we were not fully prepared. As we started to take the action, things were lots easier.  We met many problems and we are still dealing with some, but none of them was in the prepared list. By stop guessing and worrying about the future, we were able to concentrate on solving problems that actually happened. The six months spent on “what ifs” were not that worthy after all.

You can spend months preparing for “what ifs” but if you don’t start deal with “what is”, all these “what ifs” will never have a chance to happen. On the contrary, if you focus on dealing with “What is”, you will learn to be creative and improvise. Life is not that short, we always have some chances to try.