In the early hours of April 14, 1912, the largest and most luxurious ship in the world at the time, the Titanic, sunk hours after hitting an iceberg, killing 1,502 people. It was on its maiden journey from Southampton to New York.
At the time, the ship epitomised the cutting edge of technology, inspiring awe and wonder. But what is significant to us is the attitude of the owners and builders of the ship. They thought it was unsinkable. In fact, it is alleged that a couple of days before the accident occurred a local newspaper had said about the vessel: “The ship is unsinkable, even God himself can’t sink it.”
The story of the Titanic, documented as one of the worst maritime disasters in the history has been told and retold over the years. It spins the imagination of many people to this day. But perhaps the most tragic part of this disaster is that it did not have to happen at all.
Less emphasised details reveal how the Titanic’s captain and her crew ignored the increasing signs of danger as the ship sped through the night on a rendezvous with disaster. Believing it was unsinkable, the builders did not prepare it for an iceberg ripping through several compartments or any other possible accident. It was not fitted with enough lifeboats and there was no organised plan for evacuation in case of an emergency.
The overconfident captain did not slow down or put adequate measure in place even after being warned of a giant iceberg ahead.
Most entrepreneurs more often than not behave like the captain and crew of the Titanic. They believe their ideas, strategies or business as a whole is infallible. Consequently they expose themselves to grave dangers in the market place.
As a rule in business every venture is risky. No project or plan is infallible. Any ideas, product or strategy can fail. It is always safe take precautions. Never be too confident of certain results. This can cloud your reasoning and expose you to risk of the worst happening. Always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
Finally never ignore the advice of those in the field. The captain ignored the warning from other ships because he believed his vessel was infallible. In the same way some entrepreneurs ignore or take for granted certain advice such as having a business plan, conducting market research, and following certain business practices that are key to success. They consider them unnecessary or perhaps their business unsinkable because of their experience, financial muscle or market share and brand name.
As we approach the end of year, many individuals and firms are finalising plans for next year. It could be starting a business, diversifying or introducing changes in the organisation. This is good but one thing can never be overemphasised. There is no risk proof venture. Always be prepared for any eventuality and never let overconfidence cloud your judgment to the extent of exposing yourself or your firm to possible disaster, however remote.
Mr Kiunga is the author of Entrepreneurial Journey: From Employment to Business.