Perspective is Everything

Coming off of the Holiday rush of product sales, high customer engagement, and larger website views, it was a very slow January and February hasn’t been looking too promising either. By the 12th day without a sale I realized two things: 1) I was feeling like we were on the brink of extinction due to a lack of sales, and 2) growth or lack of sales should never determine my mood or outlook — it’s dangerous and foolish.

Although sales have been slumping, as much of retail does after the holiday season, we have a bright future to look forward to. We are currently working on prototyping for 3 new products, 2 of which we plan to launch this year. But, for some reason, sales seem to easily become the main focus of my attention. Perhaps it is greatly attributed to the fact that sales = cash, which is the lifeblood of our business, but I think it is dangerous to let this otherwise necessary part of the business take a tyrannical grip of our attention.

... and as soon as there was an 1-2 day dry spell of no sales, I found my anxiety reaching new heights.

I saw the same thing happen when we launched our Kickstarter. Although $17,000 doesn’t seem like that much now, it was a big deal then, and as soon as there was a 1–2 day dry spell of no sales, I found my anxiety reaching new heights, and I knew then just as I know now, this has to stop.

I have listened to a great many podcasts on the topic of business. These podcasts give me a chance to think about different issues that businesses face at different times in their journey. Big or small, all of the problems feel big at the time of the encounter, but appear smaller as time passes. For example, when Netscape went public in August of 1995, the company soon became worth more than I think even Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark could have hoped for. What they were then faced with was trying to keep employees focused on their jobs and less on the stock price. For those who know, Netscape was, at the time, the best performing tech stock and lead the way for the first .com boom. This left many employees at Netscape dreaming about how much their stock options were worth, which was exciting, but also dangerous. Usually, as stock prices rise, so do morale and excitement, but in the case that they dropped. Anxiety set in. This is a great example of how allowing moods and attitudes to be affected by any one business metric is foolish and unnecessary.

If we keep our emotions and expectations in check, we will have less emotional stress to work through.

Business, just like our lives, has many ups and downs. Through the ups and downs, the yes’s and no’s, the acceptances and rejections, it is always important to keep a level head. Knowing that waves come and go with the tides helps me keep a resolve to make decisions more along the lines of logic and data than with emotion. For example, when I first began Swayy I soon realized that finding a manufacturer for our gear was one of the hardest tasks to be completed. After 7 different attempts that seemed as if they would work, I realized that suppressing excitement about a success that seemed within reach was a good thing because often times rejection was just around the corner. On the flip side, the same was true when a definite “no” seemed inevitable. If we can keep our emotions and expectations in check, we will have less emotional stress to work through.

Packing these ideas up into one pretty package isn’t very easy, but if I had to give a few words to adequately wrap up my main point, it would be this: Work hard, expecting nothing. Let emotions play their part, but never let them control the decisions that need to be made. Emotion has a part to play, and it is a weighted force, but never let it take the reins.