You may have heard that entrepreneurs are often “married to their work.” Running an organization requires astonishing amounts of time, energy, and commitment. Marriage and startups aren’t all that different. Both require skill, commitment and an effort to work at the relationship and dynamics involved. Keeping those relationships healthy, specifically antifragile, is non-trivial and is a skil worth mastering.
Smart entrepreneurs acknowledge that their prosperity is entwined with other organizations, people, partnerships and associations. Those connections must be continually supported. For this to work successfully, founders need to build anti-fragile relationships. Having a huge network doesn’t imply that it is a solid one. Entrepreneurs must know how to build up symbiotic relationships that are useful for both sides, and, once those relationships are established – effort is required to maintain them.
What are Antifragile Relationships?
Before delving into antifragile relationships, let’s first decode the meaning of word “antifragile” as its not commonly used, and it’s rarely used as an adjective for a relationship. What it means is that a relationship between two people or between a person and a group cannot be broken, even when there is adversity. Rather, antifragile relationships grow stronger even in times of uncertainty and crisis. And it’s a challenging skill to develop.
When the chips are down, you want people in your inner circle to be able to tell you the hard truth – and to be there to support you until you get to the other side of it. Antifragile people are those who do not fear shocks or become paralyzed in the face of a challenge. These people look for opportunities and try to find solutions. Entrepreneurs have more potential to gain something from antifragile relationships versus those without the grit and gravitas that’s going to be needed when the times get tough. It’s a critical skill.
‘Anti-fragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the anti-fragile gets better.’― Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Skill-check: How to form Antifragile Relationships?
Solopreneurs work hard, too. In fact, by definition, they do everything on their own and that’s really tough. But they rely on relationships, too. Indeed, even the smallest organizations work with others to meet their business objectives. At each stage, there are specific kinds of business connections entrepreneurs have to keep up. Building antifragile relationships is an essential skill to make your entrepreneurial venture successful.
Investors come in various forms, like public shareholders or angel investors, to name a couple. An entrepreneur provides investors with the incentive to trade capital for equity with the promise of a return. In order to gain financial backing, an entrepreneur needs to build a symbiotic and resilient relationship with investors that will help them endure even challenging situations and times of uncertainty.
Business advisors guide entrepreneurs on how to improve their ventures to make their businesses more successful. Advisors offer insights and direction to help make the big decisions. Finding an antifragile advisor is a related skill – it’s someone to whom you can turn to for advice – and that makes them critical to your success. Entrepreneurs must show reverence towards advisors and share that you are grateful for their assistance. In this way, a strong connection can be built with advisors that will ultimately enhance your mental as well as emotional resilience. Not to mention the resilience of your business.
Finding a reliable partner with a similar vision, mission and objective to your own can offer an incredible advantage for your entrepreneurial venture. Having a great connection with business partners is crucial; you need people that you can trust and can depend on to successfully tackle unexpected events. Non-violent and non-confrontational communication tends to play a significant role in developing antifragile relationships. In other words, in any adverse situation that might surface, be sure to support each other to find effective solutions instead of indulging into a rage. Anger solves nothing!
Entrepreneurs who just listen to the positive opinions about the business choices they are making are headed for trouble. Doing that makes it easy to mask the problems which will eventually surface anyway – it’s just that, by the time that the errors do surface, they’ll be so grand that you may not be able to recover them. In hindsight, you’ll realize that if you had stopped the problem sooner, you may have recovered from it. Critics can be an incredible fountain of data, inspiration and even motivation for entrepreneurs who need to develop, improve and make extraordinary progress. That comes through learning and growth which begins with honest feedback. Antifragile entrepreneurs must have good self-awareness and self-management. That means, they need to be able to take criticism, negative feedback, and even failure to get stronger; each of these is a skill to hone. Entrepreneurs who are unable to see criticism and failure as an opportunity for their own growth will be impaired in their ability to build antifragile relationships.
How do you maintain antifragile relationships?
Entrepreneurship doesn’t come without a healthy dose of social interaction. From events to gatherings with financial specialists, partners, and investors, entrepreneurs need to maintain great connections. “Always working” is the mindset to consider when it comes to networking.
- Make Time To Connect
Entrepreneurs must find ways to connect with their partners and investors. This could be a couple of hours online spent contacting them on Linkedin or other forums. Investigate related Facebook Groups, Slack channels, Meetups and private gatherings where you are probably going to discover similar individuals. Look outside your industry to connect with diverse people and determine who is causing a ripple effect and has incredible business proposals.
- Practice Empathy and Build Trust
While you’re contemplating how to invest in a relationship, think about the significance of empathy and the capacity to interface at a human level —outside of business and work. Thinking about how the other person might react to your words or behaviors is important and it will go a long way towards strengthening existing relationships.
- Stay Committed To Your Words
There is nothing that will break a relationship quicker than a lack of following or disappointment by either party with respect to a commitment. Time is important, and entrepreneurs need to show that they value both their time and that of others. Returning messages promptly and getting back to individuals when they leave you a phone message is important. Show up to scheduled meetings on time – be punctual! This will demonstrate your commitment and dedication to the relationship and venture.
How to Connect With People You Can Trust?
One of the harsh realities that each entrepreneur needs to learn is that the majority of the things that are critical to startup achievement are outside of their immediate control. Trust is the most integral asset that a business person can use, both inside and outside of his domain of control. Like attracts like, and therefore becoming a trustworthy person is crucial to attract reliable business people that you can trust.
Besides, keeping promises is another thing that will help you connect with other people. If you can keep promises to yourself, you can do it for others too, no matter how trivial those promises are. Furthermore, keeping business commitments over time creates the image of an entrepreneur as ‘fully-committed’ in the eyes of prospective partners, investors. If you fail to keep commitments, you will lose respect making your relationships fragile – and that’s the opposite of what you want to happen.
All in all, an entrepreneur must offer trust before expecting from someone else to do so. Trust helps you in building anti-fragile relationships. The intensity of trust is that if your constituents believe that you can change the world, you most likely will. Isn’t that why you pursued this way of life in the first place?
Today’s question comes from Dante. He asks:
What qualities should I look for in an investor?
You’re going to want many of the qualities that we’ve covered in today’s blog. You want to build antifragile relationships with your investors where you can comfortably share hard truths. Trust is at the core here. Personalities have to mesh – if you can’t get alone with your investors, you’re in for trouble. Investment contracts are even harder to dissolve than marriages – ending a VC relationship makes divorce look easy by comparison. You want your investors to know your market and be in the same market to offer insights on trends and to help you be more forward-looking around your innovation efforts. Investors should value the same things that you do, what are your personal values? Do they value money above all else or is their moral compass aligned with your own?
The Weekly Wrap-up highlights key news stories in tech over the past week. Of course, no surprise, the emphasis will be on the underdog entrepreneurs, their challenges and their victories.
- Martin Zwilling’s 10 Lessons for Entrepreneurs on Building Trust. He is an entrepreneur and knows well how trust can be built with partners and investors to strengthen relationships with them.
- How can entrepreneurs make themselves anti-fragile and resilient? Learn from Michael Trinh. LINK
- Learn this skill from Nassim Nicholas Taleb ‘How To Live In A World We Don’t Understand’. Nassim Taleb was the first person who coined the term ‘Anti-fragile’.