Last Sunday I thought, prematurely as it turned out, that I was on the mend from the ailment that had struck me down a few days before. It was a beautiful sunny day and as the river is only a two minute walk from the front door I decided to wet a line and see if I could catch us a nice fish dinner. Fresh air, some sunshine, non-stressful – practical recuperation.

Not that I’m a champion fisherman. In fact, I hadn’t been fishing for years. But I knew enough to get the hook baited and the line in the water.

Des fishing on the Tweed River

And on my second, or was it third, cast, I got a bite!

After a short tussle I landed my prey. And saw immediately that this was not going to grace the evening dinner table.

The poor little flathead was returned to the river, to live and fight another day.

And in the time-honoured way of fishing persons being reflective and philosophical, that led me to the thought that:

  • being in business for yourself can be a lot like fishing – a lot of casting and waiting, without always getting bites
  • some tugs on the line turn out to be very modest proposals, not even meal-size

As in fishing, there are some business opportunities we need to throw back in the water, however long it took to attract them, however anxious we might be that they don’t have any bigger brothers or sisters coming along.

I used to take on just about all the opportunities that came along and try and figure out, first how I could deliver and second how I could make a buck from them. A bit more careful now, I give them a lot more consideration and take advice. I’m also much more interested in working out at a very early stage the likely dollar return (or lack of it) for the investment of my time and money.

And while I like a lot of blue sky, even with a few nicely placed clouds, when I’m fishing on the beach, I am very wary now of business proposals that offer “lots of blue sky, mate” in return for dollar and sweat equity. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

I still like to know about the opportunities. I’m just more sensible about the risk assessment.

And more philosophical about throwing the little baby ideas back in the water.

Do you have a systematic approach to assessing new business proposals and joint venture offers?

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