The diehard entrepreneur

  • Sme
  • Tuesday, 22 Apr 2014

In business, there will be days when nothing seems to go right.

When I watched the fifth Die Hard film last year, I could not help but wonder why it was so hard for Bruce Willis’ character in the movie to die.

If you ever get to act in a Hollywood film, then you better hope you get to play the hero or heroine.

Why? Because the bad guys die fast but the protagonists seem to have supernatural ability to dodge bullets (which only hit the bad guys), recover from life-threatening wounds fairly quickly and some even get up and walk immediately after being hit by a car!

Understandably, the director of the movie cannot “kill off” the main character else there will be no movie, but I sometimes think they stretch it too far with all the heroes’ near-death but never-die experiences.

If only entrepreneurs or business owners can be like these heroes in Hollywood movies and have their “happily ever after” ending.

Perhaps in the first few months of starting the business, we really did think we could be like these heroes. And then reality sets in. This normally does not take long to hit us.

We find out the hard way that not all customers we talk to want our products and services, and not every product we come up with will sell.

We also find out the hard way that not all promising employees turn out to be star performers.

Sometimes, it seems as if Murphy’s Law is working hard against us. One entrepreneur I know who has a 15-year-old IT business shared with me an incident that happened when he set up his company.

After many tries, he was able to secure an appointment to see the general manager of a large listed company. En route to this prospect’s office, located in another state, his car broke down. He arrived a little late and when he switched on his laptop for the presentation, for some reason, the presentation slides refused to run.

The general manager asked him to make another appointment but obviously he had already failed to make a good impression.

Later, as he sat at the reception area of the prospect’s office, despondently thinking through the events of the day, the general manager walked past, saw him still sitting there and began a conversation with him.

To cut a long story short, he was given a second chance to present again, got the deal and today, this particular customer is still with him.

Recently, I had my own share of Murphy’s Law incidents that were of a much more serious nature than the one I just described.

The task at hand involved many attempts and a lot of hard work that was very energy-sapping and emotionally draining.

Yet I failed, again and again due to reasons beyond my control. As a human, I have to admit that I felt tired and was tempted to give up.

Although I did not share details of what happened, I was amazed at the outpouring of support from everyone. One friend who works in the media immediately had flowers delivered to my office after I vented about being tired and discouraged.

In her card, she wrote “Keep going. You are strong”. My former boss, who is also my most vocal critic and mentor, wrote to me and encouraged me to “soldier on and that each negative thing that happens along the way is but a bump in the road, not a wall” (his words). My father told me, “You only lay down your arms when you have succeeded”.

I took all these encouragement to mean that I must be doing something good enough for them to keep spurring me on. When Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”, I wonder if he ever felt tired of trying. Perhaps he did but he did not give up.

So fellow entrepreneurs, if you are being beleaguered by Murphy’s Law and tempted to give up, remember good entrepreneurs die hard.

We will (like this paraphrased Winston Churchill’s quote), “Never give in. In nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

Jeanisha wonders what went on in the mind of the movie director when he came up with the title of A Good Day to Die Hard. She thinks there is never a good day for this. Talk to her at

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Opinion , Starting Out column


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