Using Risk to Your Advantage in Business

by Kristen Burgess
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Entrepreneurs have to balance risk. Different people can risk it all in different ways. Let’s just say that you are starting with nothing in life financially. You can risk it all, you have nothing to lose. But, if you’re multimillionaire, you probably don’t want to risk it all but, you might be willing to set aside $100,000 and risk all of that. Then you can get into the mentality that,” I’m going to risk it all because I have moved it from my personal bucket to my business bucket. I’ve put $100,000 into the account. I can risk it all. I can risk every single penny.”

Let’s look at it from a different perspective, time. You may not feel you can quit your full-time job, so you cannot risk it all. But what you can do is say, “Normally from 6 to 10pm, I have dinner with my wife or my husband in a fancy restaurant or from 8 pm to 10pm I watch television”. So you say, “Wife, husband, I think if we’re going to get where we want to go, we’re going to have to stop going out to dinner and you are going to have to watch television by yourself for a few weeks.” (Obviously, there is some agreement on the other person’s part.) But, you say, “From 6:00 to 6:30 we’re going to eat dinner together, but it’s going to be at home, even if we’re going to eat out of a TV box.” Then you say, “From 6:30 to 10pm I’m going to risk it all, I’m not going to get to watch my favorite show. I’m not even going to know what the weather is going to be like tomorrow. I’m not going to keep up with my friends. If anybody calls up to 6:30, they can get a call back tomorrow on my lunch break.” Then you can have this mentality that says, “I am going to risk it all.”

But, you are not really risking it all. You are risking it all on whatever it is that you’re working on. Because, sometimes when you are able to say, “I am risking it all”, you take more risks because you are never holding back. You are never worried about what happens if this fails. You do not have to worry about it, because you agreed to risk it all. You are able to risk it all without literally risking it all. Without risking other people’s lives. Without risking your financial future.

I want to leave you with something. Hopefully, you have taken notes and before I leave you with anything, I want you to choose what you are going to leave with. I want you to look over your notes, and I want you to put a star behind three things that stood out for you with what I have talked about today. Maybe it was the concept of bounded aggressiveness. Maybe it was the concept of separating whatever it is that you are working on so you can have the mentality of risking it all. Maybe it’s that you tend to be complacent and so you have to constantly ask, “Is this working?” Maybe you tend to over evaluate and so, maybe you do not need to ask, “Is this working?” quite so much. Maybe you have a problem with time management, trying to control something that is totally unmanageable, like time. Instead, maybe you realize that you need to start controlling yourself rather than trying to control time. Because you cannot control time, you can only control what you do with your time. Maybe the thing that jumped out for you is that you have to make more decisions so you can get more experience so that you can make better decisions, so that you can get even more experience. Perhaps that’s where you have to start. Maybe you are going to start saying, “I am no longer afraid of failure, because it doesn’t matter. Failure doesn’t matter. Failure is not wrong, it is not right, failure does not matter. I don’t care if I fail, it does not matter. I can give it everything that I have because I don’t care if it fails”. Maybe that’s where you start.

So now, taking the three things that you have started with, what is your next up? What do you need to do to begin making better entrepreneurial decisions? What kind of experience can you fall back on, or if you don’t have experience, what type of experience can you create so that you have something that you can look back on and say, “I’ve done something similar before and it did not work so well. Am I willing to try one more time? Or am I willing to say ‘You know what, that works for other people, but it doesn’t work for me.'” Maybe you have tried writing in the morning and it didn’t work for you, so you say, “I’ll try working in the evening”. If that was even worse, maybe you try on your lunch hour. Maybe you say, “That doesn’t even work, so I’m going to break all my writing up into five minute slots and every time I’m waiting in line in the grocery store, I’m just going want to write one line.” Maybe you have tried all those things and none of them work. But, which one worked better? And you say, “Waking up at 4 o’clock do not feel really good the first time around, but it sure feels better than everything else.” How do you ever get to that place? Experience.

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