This past summer my son has become more and more adventurous in the ocean. We have a cottage that’s just a couple of minutes walk from a really great provincial beach so I’m happy he’s enjoying it but there is that part of me that is consistently terrified of impending doom. Now sometimes your child might say something that imbues you with a sense of ease and comfort. Sometimes they don’t. This summer my son walked out way too far out into the ocean and said, “it’s ok, I can touch…as long as I’m on my tiptoes.”

Know your limits. Know your skills and your abilities. When I think of the people I know that have owned businesses, both the success stories and the failures, there are some common themes that seem to spring up. Some of the successful businesses have had what I believe to be suspect business plans and models however the owners understood what they were good at and what they were not good at and acted accordingly. Similarly, some of the businesses that failed were cool ideas with solid plans but they got in over their heads.

When my wife did her lone business course as part of her medical degree, there was one singular concept that she gleamed from the (too short and not intensive enough) course, which was, “do what you do best and hire people for the things that you don’t.” Do no be the judge, jury and executioner of your own brand. My son almost drowned (not really, I was right there…but…STORIES) because he thought that if NOTHING bad or unexpected happened, he’d be fine. Here’s what I know about business. There’s always a surprise wave or an overpowering undercurrent and at some point, you’re going to go under. If you’re swimming alone without a PFD, you’re probably screwed.

I’m not suggesting that you don’t push yourself to the limit. I’m suggesting that you don’t push yourself PAST the limit. I’m suggesting that before you get in the water, you understand the tides and you understand the current. Understand that even if MOST waves are only one feet high, there might occasionally be a two foot wave…or a three foot wave. Be in a position where you can survive EVEN IF the waves are bigger than expected.