Real People. Real Stories. Real Business.
Chris Bell

Exploring the Boring Business Data

Unless you’re dealing with the sciences or a field of study such as mathematics (built on precision), for the most part we’re being grossly misled by the manner in which we approach the study of subjects like economics and subsequently how we handle our approach to business. History can perhaps also be thrown into the mix – our approach to how we educate ourselves in an attempt to equip ourselves with the necessary tools for success is fundamentally flawed.

Think about how the eager entrepreneur goes about the manner in which they gather inspiration. This applies to both established entrepreneurs as well as those who are just starting out – they garner inspiration from following the stories of successful entrepreneurs who’ve gone before them and done it before, don’t they?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve swapped books with other entrepreneurs and both ways it’s been some kind of autobiography, biography or a collection of the success stories of established entrepreneurs. The likes of Richard Branson is naturally very aspirational and his success story in particular is a favourite amongst budding entrepreneurs who dream of one day realising similar success, but when it comes down to seeking some kind of blueprint to follow, such success stories are no good.

Business success stories are great as a source of motivation and while entrepreneurs seeking inspiration from such sources are keen on hearing about the other side of things – the failures and the bad times, there just usually aren’t enough of these. This is because the other side of the coin is not so interesting and nobody really wants to turn the story of a failed entrepreneur into a motion picture or publish it in a book. It’s way too boring and nobody is going to buy a publication entitled “The 50 failures of Unknown Entrepreneur X from Ethiopia,” for example.

Or will they?

It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg syndrome at play where it would probably be the entrepreneur who has already realised some success who would indeed see the value of reading about some unknown fellow entrepreneur’s 50 business venture failures, but this eagerness is something they’d wish they had before they had to go through their own journey of many failures before realising their success. You in a sense don’t know where to look for information until you’ve had your own experiences which effectively play out as those which could very well contribute to that information you’d need.

So I guess what I’ve been building up to is the fact that in our pursuit of success we tend to look for clues in information which won’t help us much. Learning of how a certain businessperson who went on to be resoundingly successful survived on payday loans to get them through a lean period doesn’t make for very exciting reading, for example, does it? Instead we look towards history-making events and those exceptions rather than the rules.

This is how many budding entrepreneurs come unstuck, whereas where we should really be looking is in the direction of the boring business data.