Business tips

The importance of risk-taking in business

A favourite quote of mine is from one of my most-loved authors, John Marsden. He said, “The biggest risk is to take no risk.”

This statement has stayed with me since I first heard it as a teenager.

To challenge oneself is to grow

To me, the quote is a mantra I like to live by. I interpret it as that if you’re not constantly pushing yourself, then it isn’t possible to experience growth.

This could be growth in your business or personal life, and what we should strive for on a daily basis. And yet we’re not instinctively wired to seek this growth.

As humans, we are programmed to love routine and feel most comfortable when we are sticking to what we know. But although the simple road might be easier to walk down, it doesn’t mean we should take this route.

Without pushing ourselves, we aren’t improving ourselves.

risk-taking in business

Don’t be afraid to take your business to the edge.

Stepping away from what you know

When my parents were in their early 20s, my mum had just finished uni and my dad had emerged from the Rhodesian bush war where he fought as a soldier.

They decided Rhodesia – or Zimbabwe as it had now become – was no longer where they could see their future. Robert Mugabe had come to power and my mum had the foresight to see the country was about to go to ruin.

My dad was more optimistic but he nonetheless agreed to my mum’s plans to fly to London and live there for a while. My dad believed they would one day return but my mum knew they’d never go back.

They left the country with $200 to their names.

Road trip around USA

My parents in the mid-80s.

When I think about how they flew to the other side of the world without any support network to go to and hardly any money, it strikes me how brave they were. They left their families and friends behind and branched off into the unknown to seek a better life. Even though it could have spelled disaster.

Thankfully it worked out for the best and they were part of the lucky few to get out of the country when they could.

But if they hadn’t of taken that first step – a big risk that could have ended up with them going back penniless – their lives might have turned out very differently.

And so could’ve mine.

Zambezi river Zimbabwe

Me as a 9-year-old on the Zambezi river. This was the last time our family returned to Zimbabwe.

Risk-taking in business is becoming commonplace due to COVID-19

In some ways, over the last few months, businesses around the world have been faced with a similar challenge that was thrown at my parents.

Take a big risk and change your life, or be forced to settle for what you’ve not formerly been acquainted with.

Risk-taking in business is becoming essential for survival. Business owners have had their lives change overnight and have needed to pivot and change the way they function in order to stay operational.

Universities that had plans to put all their courses online over the next five years have done so in just ten days.

Fine-dining restaurants have switched to gourmet takeaways.

Gyms have shut their brick-and-mortar studios but launched online workout programs.

My parents-in-law, who are artists, have gone from teaching art face-to-face to selling art kits online.

Workshed Mosaic kits

My in-laws have pivoted their business to sell online art kits.

Risk-taking in business – rising to the challenge

While it is easy to bemoan the struggles of small businesses since COVID-19 has hit – it is so uplifting to see the way businesses have stepped-up their game in order to survive.

These businesses may have had these plans in the pipeline for months – some even for years – but it was only when they were faced with a crisis they were forced to act.

It can be extremely risky to completely change your business model overnight. It may fail, you could lose money and your loyal customers might even walk away.

But to do nothing and let forces out of your control, such as the onset of coronavirus, shutdown your business, is something many weren’t willing to let happen.

And good on them.

Weathering the storm and rising to the top

Riding out the COVID-19 storm is, in itself, certainly is a type of risk-taking in business. While big businesses such as airlines and travel companies have been hard hit, for me it is the smaller businesses suffering which has made me feel all the feels.

These businesses have plugged their hearts and souls into their ventures over the years, and good on them for not wanting to give up on their dreams overnight.

There is no doubting the past few months have been challenging for many. But I take my hat off to all those who have risen to the challenge and taken it in their stride. They have weathered the storm and come through the other side.

It has been tough but now these businesses probably feel like they can do anything. They will feel empowered.

And as another author, Helen Keller, once said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Risk is adventure

Make life a daring adventure and embrace the risk.

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