Contrary to popular belief, smart entrepreneurs do not take big risks. They mitigate and manage them. But that doesn’t mean we don’t take risks – we do. Big ones.
Managing another company’s network and data is risky. There are a LOT of things that can go very, very wrong, and it’s a complicated undertaking that requires a lot going right on multiple levels – so if you’re smart, you do it, but with systems and processes, management of people, oversight of work and other controls to reduce the chance of disaster.
I took a big risk last year running the first virtual Boot Camp event with over 5,400 people registered. Fortunately, taking that risk worked out very, very well. I took a risk continuing to host events throughout this year – again, a risk that has paid off and was definitely the right thing to do for my clients despite the criticism I received from a small (but noisy) group. I take risks every time I hire another employee or client coach. They represent me but do not all make decisions like me or share my values, my skills or my discernment. I cannot control their every action, so my reputation is at risk. You take the same risks with everyone you hire too.
I am at risk investing money. I took a big, expensive risk when I decided to build our virtual event platform and an entire team to sell it and manage it, not knowing with absolute certainty that Covid restrictions would continue or that virtual events would be a “thing.” Fortunately, my assessment of what would happen was correct and my investment is paying off. But I didn’t know that with absolute certainty at the time. It could have ended up being a very expensive investment with no return, which brings me to the key point I want to make:
A LOT of the risk we have as entrepreneurs is in NOT taking action. In NOT investing in a new initiative, NOT investing in a new department, NOT investing in a new product/service. It certainly FEELS a lot less risky to say “No” and stay where you are, save your money and avoid the work. As my friend Chris Voss would say, no makes people feel safe and in control.
But saying no to opportunities again and again creates risk. If you don’t have a productive marketing system in place that you can rely on to generate sales, your business IS at risk. If you have piles of debt and no saved income (at least one year’s salary for you and at least 2 months of operating capital), you are at great risk. If you have a lot of “ones” in your business – one customer that represents 20% or more of your revenue, one really good tech, one really good salesperson, one key pivotal person (you) – you are at risk.
Of course, many of the small, struggling MSPs we talk to don’t see it that way. We offer them a program that is 20 years in development, proven to work, with a money-back guarantee, to resolve a BIG problem they have in their business – yet they say no. How can that be? It logically makes no sense – but they’re not operating on logic. They are operating with a risk-adverse, scarcity mindset that locks them into playing and staying small, broke and struggling.
Some people can’t see this and simply cannot stomach “risk.” They ought not be salespeople or entrepreneurs. Playing scared and reserved causes you to make a lot of bad decisions and miss a lot of opportunity.
If you’re going to succeed in business, you need to be able to handle failures and mistakes. Deals gone bad. Very disruptive and destructive employees. Mistakes and bad calls. Lord knows I have enough egg on my face to feed the Sunday-morning crowd at Cracker Barrel. But being willing to screw up and TAKE risk ultimately pays off more than standing still and doing nothing – but you cannot have success without some level of risk.
Here’s another, somewhat related final thought I want to add: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. And the rest of your life is going to be pretty much the same as it has been up until now. Maybe that’s okay – but maybe it’s not. Maybe there are things you don’t like. That you’re frustrated with. Situations that are “not good” right now but relatively tolerable – but that 5, 10, 20 years from now will be absolutely unacceptable.
But that IS the path you’re headed on UNLESS something dramatic occurs – not externally, like the laws change, you get lucky, etc. The “something dramatic” occurring has to happen within you. And until and unless you make a real commitment to change, you’re essentially making a daily choice and resolution to get more of the same.
Ignoring what’s bad and hoping things will get better is foolish. As the saying goes, doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results is insanity. Nothing different is going to occur without you taking dramatically different action. Because if there’s anything we can count on, it’s that BAD will happen. Gravity is automatic. The question is, are you going to play this stupid game anymore of wishing and wanting more but doing nothing, taking NO risks, doing NOTHING different because what you do every day right now is comfortable and safe?
Choose something dramatically different.