Timing is everything in investing and business … or is it?

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David FullerPeter told me about his latest and greatest idea to improve his business. He was so excited because this new revenue stream was going to ensure his organization had stable income and would thrive again.

This particular business seemed to have had its glory days 40 years ago. But this new leader was adamant that his creative idea would revive that glory.

Peter didn’t know that his unique idea had, in fact, been floated 25 years ago, and there had been no action. Could it be that the time was now right?

Timing is important when it comes to business and investing. I’ve bought the right stocks at the wrong time. I’ve invested in ventures that were too advanced for their time.

In 2001, my brother Rob, several others and I put time, money and energy into a product we called Butterfly Mail. This email service software could send pre-scheduled emails to an audience, crafted in advance and sent to populated email addresses. Unfortunately, we gave up after 18 months because we couldn’t gain traction.

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In 2001, a tech startup called Mailchimp created something similar to Butterfly Mail to send greeting cards. This company morphed into an email marketing service that’s now valued at $12 billion.

If we had stuck with Butterfly Mail, we might have been rich, but I probably couldn’t spend 20 per cent of $12 billion anyway.

In another investment in property, I ended up holding something akin to swampland with some partners for 20 years in the hopes that a community would grow when, in fact, it shrunk.

For most people, the saying “We could have, should have, would have, but didn’t”  is more in line with their style of action. Theodore Roosevelt’s quote from The Man in the Arena states it well:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

You’re going to look at many of your projects and recognize that perhaps your timing was off. That you could have been rich or famous, but you aren’t. That as an investor, entrepreneur – or even a lover or parent – you weren’t as successful as you wanted to be.

But so often we focus on our failures, errors and bad timing and consider ourselves to be unworthy. We let our past events hold us back and create doubts about our future endeavours. In many cases, we are our worst critics.

What if your timing is just off?

Peter might be successful in his venture, even if it hadn’t been a roaring success when his predecessors initiated it 25 years ago.

While timing is important, action is more important. From action comes the fundamentals of success, the relief from anxiety and the dreams of a brighter future.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc. Take action and email your questions or comments to [email protected]. For interview requests, click here.

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