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Running a Startup: It’s all in the guts

5 min

Data and analytics can only go so far when running startups. Running a proper startup requires you to have a gut feeling, because if you don't, how are you going to make the important decisions?

Ever heard of the popular phrase or saying that says that in order to be glorious in something, you need to have the guts to do it? Turns out, it’s not just about how big your balls (or ovaries, I don’t discriminate) of steel is, it’s also about how well your intuition is on the decisions that you’re about to make.

No guts, no glory — Major General Frederick Corbin Blesse

Okay, the geek in me cannot. I need to tell you about Maj. Gen. Frederick Blesse, cause bless his soul, his contribution not only to the war, but to the phrase and culture, is monumental.

What’s the big deal about a guy named Blesse?

Late Major General Frederick Corbin Blesse

So, the pretext behind the phrase, “no guts, no glory”, is from a manual/book that Frederick Blesse wrote as the Major General in the United States of America’s Air Force and was a popular bloke who flew two tours in the Korean War and another two in the Vietnam war. Needless to say, he’s done a lot of fighting in the skies and has weight to his experience.

So, in 1955 he wrote and published a training manual aptly titled, “No Guts, No Glory”, that will go down in history as a long standing manual for leaders within the Air Force. It was in service and used for twenty years, that's a long time for what is essentially just a training manual. This manual not only stood the test of time, but also did a lot to inspire leaders and its trainees to push limits and boundaries of what is sane or possible to achieve the ultimate goal, defending their nation. “No guts, no glory” means exactly what it says, if you don’t have the guts to do it, you will not achieve glory.

For over 6 decades, this phrase is not only widely used, but also embraced by not only the army, but regular civilians that you see on the streets. This one general was the key to many other people’s success and motivation, what came out of a need to train Air Force Pilots, became an inspiration for many others, years later.

What does this have to do with guts and startups?

Let’s look at it from a different perspective. It’s all about guts on this one and have you heard the other phrase? Eat your guts...? Rip your guts out..? Wait...

Trust your guts

Ah! That’s it. People say to trust your guts, and that’s not without reason. It all roots back to the feeling in your stomach when fear and adrenaline sets in. You brain does not think and it’s all gone to instinct! This is where trust your guts come in, you have to trust your instincts are right and lead you to survival. Of course, without guts to trust, you won’t survive.

You don't want to get killed by mummies do you?

Which brings us to the startup world. You need to constantly survive and overcome problems one by one. That’s the only way forward for any startup, because, let’s face it, all startups are always in a constant fight, be it to survive or thrive. Your guts as a founder or CEO of a startup, is one of the valuable thing to the company. Without it, mistakes and worse can happen and take place without you even knowing.

It’s important for you to understand that with any startup, you are the last line of defence. It’s your idea, your little baby, and you know what’s best. You only know this with your guts. That’s why it’s important.

It happens all the time, in the decisions that you have to make, in the people that you meet, the deals that you make, and the opportunities that knocks on your door. Your guts is the best thing to listen to when you are working on the next decision you need to make, and all factors aside, your guts will tell you all you need to know. There will always be a decision, where all the factors and information leads you to saying yes or no, but your guts will be the one that tells you if it is a good deal or not.

How do I know if my guts is right?

Now, your guts will not always be right. I made a mistake with Aersure and it has led to a very quiet and dry New Years that eventually became a very difficult time after Chinese New Year. That bad decision led to Aersure struggling to stay afloat and as a result, required us to work twice as hard to fully recover. Case and point, my guts isn’t always right.

But it has helped me countless times to make decisions, business or personal. My guts tells me all I need to know about the people I meet, the companies I do business with, the customers I onboard and most important of all, determining if a deal is worth it or not.

Ingrid might have her reserves on my guts sometimes, and like I said, it’s not always right. However, it is an important tool for you to make decisions and a gauge that you should always consider and study before pulling decisions.

If the decision makes you sick to your stomach, then don’t do it; if you have a good feeling about it, then pull the trigger. — Me

Should I trust my guts?

Yes. But not always. It goes without saying that you don’t want to listen to your guts if it is telling you to jump off a cliff for no reason. However, if it is asking you to take a leap of faith, do it. Because you will regret if you don’t.

It’s also always good to have a second opinion or a second set of guts to bounce ideas off. On the basis that your guts can be wrong, you should always have your partner’s guts to rely on. Sometimes, your guts can be clouded with feelings, desperation or otherwise. At which point, the second set of guts should always be your go to as it is not swayed by anything but the decision and circumstances at hand.

So, if you ever get stuck in between a cross-road, listen to your guts, but be smart about it.

Have a thought or differing opinion of this? Let me know! I love to know what you think!


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