Sunday, June 10, 2007

In Business, you gain some, you lose some

I rejected a business recently. A client called me in regards to a quotation that we sent to him two years ago. It was some kind of networking and integration project. It wasn’t our company’s core business and frankly speaking we do not really have the expertise to undertake the project. However two years ago, our business was so bad that we were desperate enough to take up whatever projects that came to us. And thus, during that time, we issued a quotation to that client, with the intention of outsourcing the project to some other company if we happened to get it. Surprisingly, the client did not proceed with the project back then, only to come back to us two years later. I hesitated before I rejected the project. I am thinking of whether I should refer the client to other companies but in the end I didn’t, because I did not know those companies well enough that I can be sure they will do a good job.

Ever since I was at the helm of the company, I had been very careful and selective on the projects that my company undertakes. My approach towards business is obviously very different from my ex-partner K in the sense that K was more concerned about earning as much revenue as possible, while I always think of the long-term growth of the company as my top priority. To me, building up the core capabilities of the company is much more important than earning revenue through some ad-hoc projects, although sometimes revenues from some ad-hoc projects can be too attractive to reject.

Coincidentally, I have another rather lucrative software project coming up, but I still haven’t decided whether to take up because I have some considerations that are holding me back. Firstly, the level of complexity of the project is extremely high. Secondly, the project isn’t something that I liked to do. I may sound idealistic but one of the motivations behind setting up my own company is to be able to do things that I enjoyed, and create products that I really wanted to create. However, the potential revenue from this project would enable me to expand the company quickly.

I believe in business, there bounds to have some level of compromise between idealogy and pragmatism. Sometimes you choose to hold on to your ideals. Sometimes you need to do stuffs that you may not like, yet is good for the company. I am still in search of this balance. In business, you gain some, you lose some. Losing some deals is just part and parcel of the game, but losing your ideals can be disastrous.

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