Jump off the cliff and build the parachute on the way down. Is a lie.

For anyone starting out a new business. The myth that you "Jump off the cliff and build the parachute on the way down" is something that many of you will have heard of.

This is, of course, a complete lie.

In my last blog, I stated that you don't have to have a 100%, locked-down, clear plan before starting. You don't have to have a  perfect website... but you do have to have something that will get you customers.

All entrepreneurs that I have read about - and I have read a lot - mention one clear thing. Minimise the risk. Yes... Jump... Yes... jump with a few 'unknowns'... but jumping and hoping is just plain dumb.

From Richard Branson to Warren Buffet the 'tao' is "minimise the risk". Mr Buffet's classic 2 rules for success.

Rule 1. Don't lose money
Rule 2. See rule 1

You can survive on glitter and charm and energy and coming up with new ideas every few weeks because the last one didn't work. And you can send out as many press releases claiming success. But after a while, someone is going to ask:

  • What is is your business plan?
  • Where are your customers?
  • What have you actually achieved?

And, without some kind of plan... you have just jumped off a cliff in a big fireworks display - to look good and get attention - - - but the end result is utter failure because, in reality, nothing tangible got delivered. No customers paid. No profit was made.

Go to any respected business training organisation - such as the Henley Business School. Go to Business Berkshire Growth Hub. Go to actionCOACH. Read "The Lean Startup" by Mr Eric Ries.... Go to any recognised business resource and the very last thing they recommend you doing is jumping off the cliff and building the parachute on the way down.

Every single entrepreneur I have met, who has actually run a business successfully has never, ever said to me, "Yeah... I just ran headlong into harm, jumped off the cliff... and made it up as I went along". True entrepreneurs do take some risks. They do expect a significant amount of 'unknowns'. But only an exceptionally small amount jump, pray and land successfully.

Personally, for me, I believe business is always a bumpy ride. That's why it's fun. You need to take action when it's a bit scary. You need to face your fear.... But I would much rather figure out an awesome landing first rather than naively jumping.

Maybe that's why so many startups fail within the first year. They believe this kind of startup flannel.


  1. Wise words, I agree with it all. What I would add, though, is that actually I meet far more people who have the opposite problem! Rather than diving in at the deep end before learning to swim, they earn a Gold Medal in procrastination. They're SO worried about eliminating 100% of the risk (impossible!) that they never actually take action and get started.

    When I encourage people to create a 5-year plan, I also encourage them to keep it very simple. One page is great. What you can say on one page will all be important, and what you would write in 50 pages would probably all change during the course of the five years. Get past the fear of making mistakes, get comfortable with a level of change and uncertainty. Create a rough plan for five years, then more detail for 1 year, then lots of detail for the coming quarter, THEN GET GOING.

  2. Absolutely Rob. And I know why people feel like they might be jumping into the unknown without a parachute - - because of that procrastination and fear you mention. But I have recently experienced someone actually thinking that it was OK to have almost no idea what they were trying to achieve and thought that was "OK" because they had been told "Jump off the cliff and build the parachute on the way down." was the Entrepreneurial thing to do...

  3. I have started on my five year plan and at long last I am seeing my business in a different perspective. Martyn Herriott, Complete Beverage Solutions

  4. I am producing a 5 year rolling plan and at long last I am seeing my business in a different prospective.


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