Tag Archive for 'risks'

Small business owners tackle risks

Photo credit to DandB

Photo credit to DandB

A friend of mine with a good job once observed, “It must be frightening being a small business owner. You know, not having a guaranteed paycheck, benefits, and all.”

I told him, “You’re right. It scares the hell out of me.” And then, remembering being downsized twice in 18 months, I hit him with, “It’s almost as frightening as when I was an employee.”
In that spirit, here’s a jewel I came across by John A. Shedd, American author and professor, from his 1928 book Salt from My Attic.
“A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships were built for.”
Were you built for the safe harbor of employment? If so, God bless you. The world needs lots of loyal, productive employees.
Or were you made to sail the entrepreneurial open seas? If so, God be with you. You’re not part of a large fleet, you navigate by the stars of the marketplace, and the storms, reefs, and pirates of the marketplace take no prisoners.
If you’re made to sail and not to lie at anchor, you’ll not only know storms, reefs, and pirates, but you’ll also know what your ship is made of. Perspectives not possible at anchor and voyages of which others can only dream.
All of life is a risk. Raising anchor and setting sail merely introduces you to different kinds of risks from those found in a safe harbor.

Risk what you know

Ever wonder what makes someone take risks? Take the next step? Have a go at something they’ve never tried before? I ask myself these questions, mostly about myself, all the time.

This jewel is from my friend, Tom Feltenstein, and it’s in his book, Uncommon Wisdom:

The times when I’ve been truly creative - when I’ve been the boldest and most imaginative, when I’ve taken the lead–have been those times when I was willing not to know. When I was willing to risk what I knew, for what I might learn.

I believe the ability to “risk what I know, for what I might learn” is the essence of entrepreneurialism. And in the not knowing, but going forward anyway, we find the conjoined, twin emotions of fear and exhilaration.

The Twins presage possibility: Might be good–might not be. Might be extremely successful–might be a train wreck. And contemplating the possibility produces the head-rush entrepreneurs get at the moment they risk what they know for what they might learn.

You will never hear me minimize doing research. An entrepreneur’s hunch without some foundation of research is like a belt without belt loops. Some entrepreneurs take risks; smart entrepreneurs take calculated risks. Still, there comes a time, especially for entrepreneurs, when you must take action even though you don’t have all the answers.

The difference in entrepreneurs, therefore, is in how long each one can wait for answers before taking action: How the point of possibility is defined, and when to risk what is known for what might be learned.

To know, or to act? That is the question.

Seeking the essence of entrepreneurship

Ever wonder what makes an entrepreneur decide when to take a risk? Examples of entrepreneurial risk-taking range from the calculated to the fool-hardy.

You’ll never hear me minimize doing due diligence on your entrepreneurial dream. Indeed, an entrepreneur’s hunch without some foundation is like a belt without belt loops. Still, there will come a time when an entrepreneur must take action without all the answers.

And in the not knowing, but going forward anyway, we find the quark of entrepreneurship and the paradoxical twin emotions, apprehension and exhilaration.

These emotions presage possibility: Might be good, might not be; might be successful, might be a train wreck. And contemplating either possibility produces the headrush entrepreneurs get the moment they risk what they know for what they might learn.

The best way to manage these emotions is a two-step process. First, believe in your own ability to take the next step. This confidence comes from gaining knowledge and experience, plus the perspectives of others – like a mentor – who have already been where you want to go.

If you’re having difficulty finding this confidence perhaps your subconscious is sending a message that you have more work to do before you take that next step. But if your credentials and preparation are reasonable and you’re still lacking confidence, perhaps it’s time to risk what you know for what you might learn. And that leads us to the second step, which is about faith.

Faith is defined as a belief in something unseen. You must have faith in yourself to handle future plans. You must have faith that your plans will be flexible enough to deal with the unknown. And you must also have faith in one more thing which may surprise you – serendipity.

My friend, Jim Ballard, author of “Mind Like Water,” says serendipity is “a meaningful coincidence.” Jim thinks the more we expect serendipity the more of it we will find. I think business serendipity is good fortune that happens when you show up in the marketplace with your plan, preparation and faith – every day.

Always research the risk you’re taking, believe in yourself and what you’re creating, and have faith that something good will come from your commitment. But when you take the next risk, be prepared for the possibility that what you get for your efforts might not be what you expect, and for the possibility that this is a good thing.

Expect serendipity whenever you risk what you know for what you might learn.

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Be sure to check out Jim Ballard’s page linked below. Jim Ballard is a management consultant, leadership trainer, motivational speaker, and consulting partner with the Ken Blanchard Companies, and author of What’s the Rush? He founded Maudala Press, a direct-mail educational publishing firm, and wrote a series of children’s books and books for teachers on humanistic education.

Click here to see Jim Ballard’s latest interviews and books

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

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Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Olympic and small business heroes

Every four years, you can watch special people participate in a noble cause – the Olympics.

These heroes commit countless hours over many years to achieve a level of excellence that might somehow qualify them to represent their country in the Olympic Games.

Notice no mention of winning, medals or glory. Most Olympians find neither. And yet they train and compete.

Watching an event, we’re at once self-conscious and grateful as the camera’s lens permits us to invade that private moment just prior to competition. Self-conscious because of the intrusion, but grateful to share the moment and benefit vicariously from the Herculean effort and sacrifice.

The TV camera moves in closer. We can actually see the color of their eyes — even imagine their thoughts.

The swimmer: “Twelve years of training and it all comes down to the next few seconds – must remember the fundamentals.”

The runner: “Today I will perform my personal best.”

Then the long lens captures the mouth. There’s a lick to fight the cottonmouth that only those who risk failure have tasted. The lips move ever so slightly, as if to offer a short prayer or claim an affirmation.

Every day, you can watch another group of special people participate in a noble cause – small business.

Small business owners are a lot like Olympic athletes. They commit countless hours over many years, pushing mind and body to achieve a level of excellence that might somehow allow them to merely … make a living.

Notice no mention of winning, medals or glory. Most small business owners find neither. And yet they show up, year after year, to work, compete, and contribute.

Like an Olympic race, sometimes the future of a small business’ success rides on how well the owner performs over a very short period of time. If the camera could take you in close, you might see an owner thinking: “All these years of work and risk could come down to how well I deliver this proposal inthe next few minutes - must remember the fundamentals.”

The long lens would also capture the lick to lessen the cottonmouth that only those who risk failure have tasted. Then the lips move ever so slightly, as if to offer a prayer or claim an affirmation.

Olympians and small business owners are dedicated to what they love. Both work hard, in search of excellence, take great risks against all odds, and usually at their own expense.

I’ll gladly spend my admiration on that kind of spirit.

Because of Olympians and small business owners, the world is a better place.

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Today on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked more about my heroes, Olympic athletes and small business owners. Click here to download or listen.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

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