The number game. A game that can be exhausting at best – yet, it has been known to get people’s adrenaline pumping, leaving entrepreneurs and successful people asking for more. So when does it pay to be a statistic – and when does it pay to ignore those numbers and go with your gut? Let’s do a quick head count!

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image: inc.com

But before that, what exactly is this number game? In urban language, the number game has become a metaphor for competition, success and all round measurement of where one is going. Entrepreneurs and professionals in various fields follow these numbers in most cases. While the corporate world depends on statistics to take decisions, several individuals who constitute this world have been known to look past statistics and boldly go with their instinct. So when is it good to look beyond numbers?

Creativity vs Feasibility

Sometimes, letting the number game take a back seat is a good idea. Especially if you know that you have something creative up your sleeve. Following your heart and letting your creativity do the talking is the best way out. Walt Disney comes to mind here. Did you know that he was given a rejection slip which said, “Not creative enough?” Well, that was before Disney became what it is today – a well loved epitome of all things creative!

All those rejection slips could have deterred Mr. Disney, if he had listened to the numbers rather than his imagination. In that case, the world would have lost out on a whole generation of imaginative visuals that we have all grown to love. Creativity sometimes is the best anecdote for those tiresome numbers – and a game changer that brings in something new and fresh.

Quality vs Quantity

Your social media following counts. Markets and numbers count. Best seller lists and numbers count. But not always. Imagine having a 1000 followers who are yet to make a single purchase because the quality of your content or brand means nothing to them? Have you heard of the old adage – less is more?

Many authors, painters and singers have stuck to this adage. Jack Canfield (motivational speaker and author of Chicken Soup for the Soul series)  has been one of the champions of this thought process. He believes in going after the great rather than settling for the good – even if it means letting go of 10 mediocre projects for that one really great, well paying, satisfying project!

So if you find yourself wondering how many likes you have on your Facebook page, or just how many people have bought your books – do not worry. The numbers don’t always talk – but your work, if it resonates, will speak louder than the numbers and translate in some manner or the other to bring in a profitable experience!

The Overkill of Overthinking

A definite no no. Which is why entrepreneurs like Neil Patel do not even write business plans! Yes, that’s a first – and you heard it here! An over-thought-out path may limit your options and restrict you from taking risks. Liken it to being asked to enjoy only one flavour of ice cream. You never know how good the other flavours might taste, right?

Technology and rapid globalisation, thanks to social media outreach, throw multiple ideas all at once. While one may tend to get overwhelmed, it is best to keep an eye on the goal and the mind receptive to opportunities – than turning out a thoroughly researched business plan that will limit what you do with new opportunities! Imagine this – Red Bull was first created as a beverage for truckers who would have to drive along highways and freeways all night long. Now imagine if the makers of Red Bull had stuck to a business plan rather than pouncing on the opportunity to introduce it to a varied audience, we would not even know what Red Bull enabled wings feel like after a tired and weary day!

Fit in or Build a New Mould? 

Did you know that Bill Gates had initially created Traf-O-Data, a company that could read raw data produced by roadway traffic counters so that one may create reports for further tasks? Well, it was rejected. And that was before Bill Gates decided to stop following the numbers, and went with his gut instinct to create something that would be a perfect fit. And the rest as they say, is Microsoft History.

So when you are faced with a clear instinct but are told otherwise by the numbers in say, a similar market – you know which route to take. Well, at least that’s what Bill Gates did.

Playing Safe vs Taking Risks

Yes, that’s a number none of us want to dial. But ring it did, for Steve Jobs. The dismal performance of a product named Lisa led him to be kicked out of his first company. That’s when he bade adieu to the numbers, and decided to tenaciously go in the direction of his radical ideas. Apple was born and today, Steve Jobs is a household name like none other!

So failure is a good number too – provided we learn the lessons well, and truly in time. Lessons sometimes speak a far better and louder language than numbers. A lesson learnt and applied in time, will convert into numbers within no time at all!

So yes, it is possible to ignore competition and do your thing – but it is advisable to keep an eye on the latest trends to find a niche, a window of opportunity for yourself too! So pick and choose your numbers – and do what you do best the rest of the time!