Creating a Startup – Lessons in Uncertainty

In Business, Philosophy, Short Thoughts, Stoicism

I recently started a new company called Mäd, which is a communications agency based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

We’ve had an incredibly strong start, hitting our financial targets for first 18 months in our first month, which obviously was quite unplanned, and that’s bring me to one of my favorite topics:

Control. 

I’ve become quite good at dealing with uncertainty in the last few years, especially since I started reading and studying Stoicism, and creating a new company is a really practical way to test these ideas out in the real world. 

I can tell you what I don’t know:

  • Where our office will be in the next two months – we are likely to outgrow our current office quite shortly. 
  • In fact, I’ve got very little idea how many people I’ll have working with me at the end of the year. 
  • How many sales we will have, and how much money we will make. 

And you know what? I’m actually comfortable with that. Anyone who tries to predict any of the above (or anything else, for that matter) is simply deluding themselves. 

There is no-one alive today that can predictably and repeatedly forecast the future, there are simply too many variables. Yes, there will be some people who appear to able to do this, but then we come back to the Million Monkeys with a Million Typewriters Eventually Writing the Full Works of Shakespeare argument. 

An interesting question is how does one stay calm (or even sleep at night) if this uncertainty is always at play? Well, one simply has to let go, and accept that this is the way things are.