How Emotions Persuade Entrepreneurial Decision Making
From Facebook to Uber, many companies were started because their founders wanted to solve a problem they, as consumers, faced
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As a human, you'd be forced to take several decisions on an everyday basis. It is almost impossible to rationally evaluate various choices, when it comes to making a decision. In fact, emotions from our previous experiences play a vital role in influencing our decisions.
Antonio Damasio, professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, argues in his book,Descartes' Error, that emotion is a necessary ingredient to almost all decisions. Emotions → cognitive processing → decision making → choice → outcomes!
Thankfully, most of the decisions are trivial with short-term repercussions. Should I have coffee right now or grab it from a Starbucks on the way? What should I wear for the weekend party? Should I have scrambled eggs or baked beans for breakfast? The list is endless. However, some decisions are bound to give us sleepless nights. Should I take up this cool new job or pursue further studies? Should I continue with my job or start my own venture?
Just like any other scenario, an entrepreneurial journey is full of instances where you'd be taking critical decisions. In fact, research in psychology shows that most of the entrepreneurial decisions are emotion-driven. Emotions will trigger your action to build your way forward in the journey.
Since emotions strongly persuade entrepreneurial decision-making, you'd better be aware of it and exercise this awareness to build positive outcomes. If the positive emotions are as overwhelming and omnipresent as the clouds in the sky, the awareness will give action the essential wings to fly. If the negative emotions are as wavering and inconstant as the water in the ocean, the awareness will give actions the essential boat to sail. Whether you sail through and fly with success depends on the action. In other words, starting up a venture is the best way to experience the ends of the emotional spectrum. The journey is full of emotional highs and lows and, therefore, it becomes absolutely essential to recognize what one is feeling at any point and make better decisions. Lows overpower the highs, on most occasions, and so, to constantly keep at one's calling will be challenging for most of the times.
If you're reading this, chances are that either you own a business or have been contemplating starting one for a few months now.
Let's start from the beginning
Ask yourself a simple question: Why did I start my business in the first place?
Most of you'd say, because I wanted to solve this problem. Chances are that most of you've experienced the problem that you wish to solve. When you experienced the problem yourself, you had a sudden surge of emotions. The experience stayed with you for a while and when you had to embark on the entrepreneurial journey, this idea overruled every other idea and you decided to pursue it.
Some of the greatest startup ideas of the 21st century were triggered by emotions. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook since he himself struggled hard to make social connections. He thought to himself, "Why not create a platform that helps people connect virtually with ease?" Boom! Facebook was born. On a winter night in 2008, two friends, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, struggled hard to find a cab while they were in Paris to attend a conference. A few months after Uber was born!
If you watch a few episodes of Shark Tank, you'd analyze a pattern. A lot of people talk about an idea in specific because they'd faced the problem that they chose to solve. Most of the companies have real emotions, people and stories behind them.
By now, you'd start to believe that the decision of pursuing an idea, in particular, is itself based on emotions. Isn't it?
Now, you'd "decide" to pursue the idea!
The decision to pursue the idea is also driven by emotions. Isn't it? You will have to be crazy enough to quit your cushy 9-5 job and dive deep to test the entrepreneurial waters. It's as challenging as breaking up in a relationship where you had attained the comfort zone, but now you've decided to embrace the change, and eventually discover one's true self.
Now that you've embarked upon the entrepreneurial journey, your journey can be broadly classified into:
The good days
In the beginning, you'd be so emotionally involved that you'd let your health suffer, won't call back home as often, and also decide to skip your best friend's wedding for that much-awaited investor pitch. But as long as you get to work on your dream venture, you'd feel good.
A positive customer testimonial will fill your heart with the ultimate bliss that the world has to offer, so will the positive tweets/reviews post-launch.
As a relationship progresses, the intensity to express love to your partner goes down but in the case of your company, the passion will keep building as you achieve short-term goals and feel the exhilaration to do more.
Positive emotions have proven to deliver better decisions and hence, the best outcomes. So, the good days aren't the ones that we need to lose our weight about.
The bad days
Have you ever imagined yourself a character while you were watching a movie? Meeting new people, day in day out, would be a process as immersive as watching this film. You'd want to be the hero, listen to all things positive and try and seek out a deal from every conversation. But a majority of the times, you'd be faced with criticism on your product or return home without the deal.
One fine day, you'll wake up to negative customer testimonials, and also read it on a blog that your competitor has raised more funds than you did. The kind of thoughts that will iterate in your mind will go like, "Gosh! So the investors potentially believed in the idea but did not see the potential in my team!"
Unfortunately, the negative emotions triggered on the bad days overpower the positive emotions triggered on the good days. More often, the bad days outnumber the good days. The entrepreneurial journey teaches one to believe in oneself and hustle no matter what. It fuels the optimism towards living a full life. Edison once said, "I have not failed, I have rather found 10,000 ways that do not work." Yes, that's the level of optimism we're talking about.
When you're emotionally involved with something, positive emotions and negative emotions become an indispensable part of your journey. But your ability to recognize the negative emotions, working on it and eventually converting it into positive emotion will determine a positive outcome. You'd have lived life to the fullest capacity should you choose to startup as you'd have experienced the whole spectrum of emotions in the truest sense.