One of the biggest and most consistent battles all entrepreneurs always fight is the battle of conviction vs calculation. I say this out of personal experience. In my case though, for many reasons which I now regret, I went with calculation most of the time, not with my conviction.Conviction is the gut feeling that an entrepreneur has about something based on his intelligence, knowledge, vision and experience. Calculation is market statistics, market or consumer perspective about something. It can also be the arguments or perspectives put forth by people around the entrepreneur. Let me give an example to explain this further. The founder of the world’s largest social network acted on the basis of his conviction. When he started, there was no method of calculation to prove that over a billion people would one day form a single social network. Many similar businesses have become what they are today because of the conviction out of which their founders or leaders acted, not because a calculation proved that they would become world-changers.Search engines, online calling, gaming, email, online shopping, new age mobile phones, tablets are a few examples of that.
There is no simple and straight method of determining whether the correct way to take a decision is through conviction or calculation. Both are equally important depending on circumstances, but can be dangerous in others. I believe that an entrepreneur should give higher priority to conviction when calculation cannot prove it wrong. But, if there is any kind of calculation available for discussion, then, it should be given consideration before arriving at a decision. For example: An entrepreneur in today’s world can be convinced about the fact that online communication modes are evolving and that there is place for better and more convenient ways to do it. There is no data to prove that it would be wrong to innovate on newer methods for it—this would be the entrepreneur’s conviction. But if the same entrepreneur is equally convinced that a better email service could be devised, then a simple calculation would prove him wrong. Statistics show that email usage is going down and that the newer methods, such as mobile and social networking, are coming up. Every entrepreneur also needs to know the difference between conviction and other feelings, such as faith, belief, perspective, opinion and so on. Conviction, if misunderstood, can make you take a lot of incorrect and disastrous decisions. Firstly, conviction needs to survive the test of time and circumstances and it needs to be progressive and to go with the times. If the entrepreneur does not continue to believe in a particular point over a period of time and if his confidence in it does not grow, then it is weak enough to be termed a conviction. There should be some logic or method behind it. In other words, there needs to be some sane and acceptable argument to it. At the same time, the convictions of great entrepreneurs have succeeded in changing the way the world works. If it had not been for Bill Gates, there wouldn’t be a computer in every household.
My one-line suggestion to every entrepreneur is: ‘Go with your conviction as long as you know that it has a rock solid foundation and that it is not a passing feeling, but always be on the lookout for calculations that will win over your conviction.
Written by Rudrajeet Desai