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Real entrepreneurs never complain during tough times

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Remember all those weekender profiles on outside-the-box thinkers who made the most of the latest technology to carve out a fresh slice of the economy for themselves? You know the types: wealth chasers who monetised the most unthought-of services in our world. Some call them entrepreneurs.

Now the papers blowing unread at my empty local cafe are stained with the tears of these same entrepreneurs who are bleeding coin because of the coronavirus and knock-on effects.

On the one hand, they want a pat on the back for seeing opportunity where others didn’t. On the other hand, they want a long-distance hug because they didn’t plan for unforeseen happenings to knock over their nascent empires like a house of cards.

It reminds me of the people caught short with a warehouse full of Pink Batts a decade ago. These people were happy to tell everyone how smart they were to ride the home insulation wave. Then they cried foul play when it crashed.

The uncomfortable truth

If you’re going to crow about the fact you turned Airbnb into a slumlord’s dream or bought a bunch of cars to rent out to Uber drivers so you don’t have to interact with the public, don’t cry when you’re left in the lurch because nobody’s going anywhere at the moment. Or even worse, stop getting on the blower to journalists and asking for a medal because you’re offering refunds. Especially don’t organise a photographer to snap you sitting forlornly on a non-descript couch that converts to a bed.

I’m not entirely unsympathetic. If you want to sit in one of your empty-pantried, IKEA-decorated flats and be upset about the vagaries of fate with your family and/or business partners, that’s fine. That’s what the rest of us are doing with our normal jobs and Sydney Airport shares.

But why do we have to hear about how hard done by you are? I’m not hearing a lot of firefighters whingeing about how difficult it is to practice social distancing on the job. School teachers aren’t… well, school teachers are always complaining, so they don’t count.

Being an impresario who correctly judges the mood of the market is really difficult, it turns out, and even if you get lucky once, there’s no guarantee that your pink streak will continue indefinitely. That’s why most people don’t do it; they’re not addicted to the risk–reward that comes from branching out into the unknown.

If you want the glory that comes from reward, you have to be prepared for the risk. And now it’s here, take your hits like the hero you were in those older puff pieces about your greatest success.

Start thinking about your next pivot instead of weeping into the ashes of your last chance-not-taken. Adapt like humans are intended to.

Now excuse me while I go prep some teacher’s notes for my English linguistics class for subtropical parrots.

Read next: Characteristic traits that differentiate real entrepreneurs from pretenders

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