Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Risky business

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     If your mother had not taken the risk of carrying you to term, you would not be reading this. If you had not taken the risk of failing, you would not be in business. 

     Life is full of risks. A tree limb can fall on you, but you walk under trees. An oncoming vehicle can swerve in front of you, but you still drive here and there.

     In business you are continually taking risks. You offer additional products and services. You tackle new markets. You change the way you manage.

     At every turn, you face the danger of failing. Small or large, failure is always a possibility. The small failures prepare you to take the bigger risks. 

     Many small businesses never grow and expand because of the fear of failure. The massage therapist who could expand into a wellness center, but doesn't. The landscaper who could expand into a garden center, but doesn't. The tax specialist who could expand into a full accounting operation, but doesn't.

     To grow a small business into a larger operation takes a dream, a plan, and a follow-up. Taking risks along the way is part of the game. 

     Of course, if you've built your small business to the size that you're comfortable with and you don't want to grow bigger, that's one thing. But if your dream is still not realized, then taking risks can get you there.

     Example: Mary established her small bakery and tried baking all sorts of goodies until she settled on the mix of products that brought in retail customers and wholesale clients. She let the business "settle in" for a few years. Then, Mary decided that the time was right for taking the next step. She took a big loan, expanded into a second operation. She was on the way to franchising neighborhood bakeries. By taking the small risks over time, she was following her long term plan--and the biggest risk of her business life.

     A funny thing happens to most business owners. They get into business and it works. Years of struggle establishing the operation finally are in the rear view mirror. 

     Then they become fearful that any changes will destroy what they have built. They begin to avoid the little risks, and the big risks are out of the question. They nibble around the edges of the business, never becoming what they could achieve.

     Never take unnecessary risks. And, before taking a giant leap, always think through what you are about to do. That fear of failure can serve you well. Just don't let it keep you from taking the big risks. Your mother didn't hesitate carrying you.

     When you run a business, you learn many things. Everything you do carries a risk, and not all risks turn out well. Learn from failure and keep on going toward your dream.  

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