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  • The Role of Bravery in Business spacer
  • What is the role of bravery in business?

    Bravery can drive us to do what needs to be done, especially if it is challenging or scary to do so. Growing a business can be challenging, and especially during the start-up phase of an entrepreneurial venture, might even be scary. Thus, bravery would seem to be a useful trait for businesspeople to have.

    But, how does bravery benefit business?

    A recent Wall Street Journal article, “Maybe Winning is Quitting in Tech Right Now”, which ran on November 28, 2022, raises some interesting issues about bravery in business. The article’s theme is that sometimes it is better to quit and move on, rather than persist with something that is obviously failing. The article says, “Silicon Valley embraces failure. Maybe it should applaud quitting too.”

    Regarding bravery, the article features the following quote: ‘”Fortune favors the brave,” exclaimed Matt Damon in last year’s commercial—pretty much a cautionary tale for new and shiny investments from the moment the words left his mouth. History is filled with those who ‘almost adventured…almost achieved,’ he said.” Thus, the article is making the case for bravery as an important success factor in business. But, the article ends with this statement: “Sometimes it takes even more bravery to turn back”—in other words, quitting may require bravery.

    Thus, from what we see in the article, bravery in business takes on two dimensions. Bravery can provide the impetus to persist despite difficulties. And, bravery can provide the drive to quit when it is tempting to keep trying.

    However, as someone with over 25 years researching business success and failure patterns, I find that far more crucial than the bravery based persist-versus-quit issue is the importance of identifying whether or not a business strategy has a good chance for success. Understanding what has good success potential can guide the persist-versus-quit decisions far better than bravery can.

    If a business venture is strategically wrong, bravely persisting for a long time will probably be futile. Granted, there may be isolated cases where a poorly fitting business becomes profitable after many years of failing. But, in these situations, is it really worth enduring many years of huge losses merely for the sake of bravery?

    There are definite patterns regarding what kinds of business strategies are likely to succeed. Paying attention to these patterns helps determine whether to continue onward with a business or whether to quit and shut the business down. Bravery can help weather tough times, but the patterns are far more likely to determine what succeeds.

    Nonetheless, the above quote about history being filled with almost achieveds is true. And, even when the strategy is right, business is not always challenge free. So, bravery and the persistence it might bring can be an asset. But, despite its benefits, bravery is less likely to matter as much as paying attention to the patterns.

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