We live in an era of ‘catch-22’ and ‘YOLO’ (you only live once). I’m sure most of you entrepreneurs out there would agree with me that we frequently encounter ‘catch-22’ situation/s. While bootstrapping it is a different catch, when business kicks-in it is a different catch, when you find a suitable investor it is a different catch, so on & so forth…
Y’day, I was discussing one of these catch-22 situation being faced @ work with a friend. My 13 year old daughter got all inquisitive about this term and asked me the meaning of ‘catch 22’ & who coined that word?? While I could explain what it meant, I didn’t know how this term originated and who coined it?
She intrigued me to find out more about this term which has now become an integral part of our personal & professional lives. Google told me that one Joseph Heller coined the term in his 1961 novel Catch-22, which describes absurd bureaucratic constraints on soldiers in world war II. There was only one catch and that was Catch-22. It meant during war, a rationale mind lay emphasis for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate more than anything else. This phrase also means a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions. Interesting!!
Incidentally, in the start-up eco-system ‘catch-22’ situations are dime a dozen. Isn’t it? Well, Literally!! The dilemma as to what is a wise spend, how to allocate shares/stakes, who is the right partner, whom to hire and whether the hire should be now or later, full-time/part-time is a perennial discussion that goes on with most founding team members. Recently, my co-founder and I were discussing & deliberating a typical ‘catch-22’ situation – how do we increase sales to achieve the target set, our execution mantra with financial limitation & resource constraint.. Uhhh!!! Sounds familiar?? I’m sure It does..
What we did? We decided to arrest the situation and not be ‘caught’ in the ‘22’ trap :). The core team came together, laid out a clear byte size business plan for next 6 months and worked backwards on the execution mechanics. The focus was on the things that we can achieve as a small team with limited funds factoring in payment receivables from clients & our individual expertise/capabilities. By doing this, we had a good understanding of the internal and external business realities. We helped ourselves come out of the ‘catch-22’ situation by sticking to ‘what is doable’ with a concrete plan of action than going after ‘what is desired’. It is IMPT to not waver from the original plan because it is easy to get swayed & be all over the place.
Going after an overtly aggressive & unrealistic plan will fatigue the entrepreneurial journey sooner than expected. Our strategic advisor always reminds us to ‘enjoy the journey’ amidst challenges. So very true! PAUSE @ frequent interval for a reality check & balance & then PLAY with optimism & enthusiasm.
Now, what’s your catch-22 situation??? We could probably help!!:)