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Anti-fragile: a guide for entrepreneurs

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • December 27, 2016


Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile, is a bible for entrepreneurs.

The theory is to set up your business in such a way that not only is it resilient to shocks, it actually benefits when adversity strikes.

One of the best examples he uses is debt. Debt makes you fragile. If interest rates go up or the bank calls in your loan, you’re in trouble.

Not having debt makes you resilient. Having lots of cash makes you anti-fragile.

Being anti-fragile means devising a strategy whereby you benefit from unpleasant shocks to the system.

Like when you can’t find decent coffee.

Are you the guy who simply won’t drink coffee unless it’s excellent? The problem with that strategy is that you are vulnerable to painful shocks when in a strange town and unable to find great coffee (i.e. all towns between Cape Town and Johannesburg).

Change tack. Start drinking instant coffee again, start liking it again. Boom! You’re now anti-fragile to coffee.

If there’s great coffee available, that’s awesome! If there’s only Ricoffy, that’s awesome too!

Thank you Nassim Taleb.

Here are some other tips for antifragility:

  • Stick to simple rules.
  • Keep your options open.
  • Don’t get consumed by the data.
  • Resist the urge to suppress randomness.
  • Experiment & tinker  – take lots of small risks.
  • Make sure that you have your soul in the game.
  • Avoid bets that, if lost, would wipe you out completely.
  • Build in redundancy and layers. Have no single point of failure.
  • Respect history – look for habits and rules that have been around for a long time.
  • Focus more on avoiding things that don’t work than trying to find out what does work.

When adversity strikes you should not only survive, you should thrive.

Set your life up in such a way that no matter what happens, you benefit.

It’s a form of opportunism. Everything that happens, good or bad, creates opportunity.

You want to be in a position to be able to take advantage of any opportunities that arise.

The ultimate anti-fragility is loving what you do.

Sometimes you simply can’t avoid failure.

If you love what you do, you haven’t wasted your time. No matter whether you win or lose, you’ve benefited.

Be anti-fragile.