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Alan Knott-Craig book – set yourself up to deal with adversity [Extract]

In being an entrepreneur you have to deal with adversity all the time. It could be closing that first sale, making a new hire or or even saving your company from liquidation.

In this fourth extract from his new book, tech entrepreneur Alan Knott-Craig Junior how you can devise a strategy to benefit from unpleasant shocks to the system.

With permission from Knott-Craig — the founder of Project Isizwe and former Mxit head — Ventureburn is serialising parts of the entrepreneur’s new self-published book 13 Rules for Being an Entrepreneur which is now available via his website http://bigalmanack.com.

Ventureburn is also giving away five copies of the new book. See below for details.

Here’s the fourth extract — taken from the fourth chapter titled “Philosophy”. See the first extract here, second one here and the third one here.

Be antifragile

Nassim Taleb’s book Antifragile is a bible for heroes. The theory is to set up your life in such a way that not only are you resilient to shocks, but 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 your loan, you’re in trouble. Not having debt makes you resilient. Having lots of cash makes you antifragile.

Being antifragile means devising a strategy whereby you benefit from unpleasant shocks to the system, like when you can’t find decent coffee.

Are you the person who simply won’t drink coffee unless it’s excellent? The problem with that strategy is that you are vulnerable to painful shocks when in a strange town and unable to find great coffee (eg in all towns between Cape Town and Johannesburg).

It’s time to change tack! Start drinking instant coffee again. When you start liking it again, you’ll be antifragile 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 antifragility:

• Stick to simple rules.
• Keep your options open.
• Don’t get consumed by the data.
• Resist the urge to suppress randomness.
• Experiment and tinker.
• Take lots of small risks.
• Make sure you have your soul in the game.
• Avoid bets that, if lost, would wipe you out completely.
• Build in redundancy and layers. Have no single point of failure.
• Respect history; 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 but also thrive. Set your life up in such a way that 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, and that means having cash in hand.

It also means loving what you do. Sometimes you simply can’t avoid failure, but 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 antifragile.

Ventureburn made five copies of the new book available. The first five readers that responded to our call have been sent copies. They are: Luke Keyser, Andy Skinstad, Jason Luboyera all from Cape Town, Mbangiso Mabaso from Johannesburg and Mamkhele Msongelwa from Pretoria. Ventureburn thanks all those that wrote in.