Use these ideas from Nassim Taleb to create an antifragile startup

How a good dose of reality reduces your risk of failure

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I remember when I gave up on my first startup.

I was at my desk, staring at my scans.


No view.

No clicks.

No conversions.

I thought I had this great idea.

Write book reviews, add an affiliate link and earn money.

After all, others made money that way.

Why can’t I?

When I started closing my book review blog, I knew something.

I was too confident thinking that I would be a success.

Essayist Nassim Taleb doesn’t specifically tell us how to start a startup in any of his books or essays, but his insights are transferable between fields.

In this article, we’ll look at how to use Taleb’s insights into antifragility and randomness so you don’t end up overconfident like me in the world of entrepreneurship.

1. Be antifragile by anticipating and overcoming stress

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Antifragility is one of Taleb’s most famous ideas.

It’s not about having a robust business, it’s about having a business that can withstand stressors.

For example, Netflix has a software suite called Simian Army that randomly shuts down production servers and degrades services among other chaotic features.

The goal is to keep Netflix engineers on their toes when real servers and services go down.

How do we apply this idea in our startup?

Suppose we are content creators.

If we ever get sick for a while and can’t post in time, it could affect our audience.

To prepare for this, we need systems such as creating multiple posts over the weekend and posting them automatically in the coming weeks.

Another issue is server malfunctions. You may not be a big startup, but a server outage by your hosting provider can impact your audience.

This can be alleviated by hosting your website in multiple regions, or perhaps you could create content on websites with global servers themselves. By doing so, you negate your own risk of server failures.

Personally, I prefer blogging here because it’s a global platform and I’m confident enough that the IT team has server backups in case it fails.

2. Be resilient to biased decision-making by not trusting predictions

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Taleb likes to tell a specific story about Steve Jobs.

The IT entrepreneur had no faith in market analysis and forecasts. All he cared about was making beautiful products that consumers would love. In fact, Jobs even wanted the interior of Apple products to look this good.

Look how this kind of thinking turned out.

My mistake during my first startup was thinking that I could easily recreate the success of others.

Just because market analysis indicates that personal finance blogs are popular, doesn’t mean everyone should start one. He fails to mention how long successful blogs have been in the game already.

Then again, you shouldn’t naively believe that what you think is so valuable will be accepted by the crowd.

Just because you want to go against the grain doesn’t mean you’ll succeed.

What you really should do is take some sort of halfway approach.

For example, apparently content creators should start thinking about investing in AI for their content creation, now and in the future.

As someone who writes AI code, I have some skepticism here.

I can tell you that modern AI is simply a correlation between data points.

AI doesn’t spontaneously create new things like you and I think.

If you allow your content creation to be data-driven, you replicate what exists. It cannot capture the emotion unless many people have written about that particular emotion in a similar context.

Personally, I have a lot of crazy ideas that I want to put on paper. So for me, AI can’t really write quality content for these wacky ideas.

I say. I tried.

3. Be on your toes by respecting chance

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Probability is not a simple calculation of odds on the dice or more complicated variants; it is the acceptance of the lack of certainty in our knowledge and the development of methods to deal with our ignorance. ~Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Perhaps the most important reason your startup needs to be antifragile is simply that the world is random.

We cannot know all the information in the world. Even if we had a lot of information, it would be too difficult for us to process it.

For example, who could predict the success of Facebook?

In the 2000s, MySpace and Bebo were the main social media websites, but poor management led to the demise of these companies. But, who could have foreseen that a Harvard student-only social media website could suddenly profit from the gap in the industry?

Your startup will face many stressors and random opportunities.

For example, you might be sick and not be able to write for a month, or better yet, one of your competitors falls ill, so you can take advantage of their absence.

As Taleb alludes to it, we are ignorant. So all we can do is accept our ignorance and work on it.

For example, I dwell on a few topics because I don’t know which niche will succeed and which niche will suddenly crash.

My main niche is using technology and critical thinking to better invest, but I also get into entrepreneurship and exercise not because I’m an expert on it, but because I’m interested in it.

I can never guess when I will need to pivot my writing.

Here is an example.

At the start of my blog, I covered a lot of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, but those weren’t the only topics I wrote about. I also branched out into value investing.

It was a good choice for me.

Interest in my blockchain articles just died out after the crypto and NFT bear market.

If I had continued to write only about crypto and NFTs, I might have struggled to retain readership.

Could I Predict the Crypto Bear Market?

Definitely not.

But, I respected that random events happen, so I prepared.

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