“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Co-Founder
Sometimes you just need to be a bit brave, but that’s always easier said than done. There’s always a bit of concern about the naysayers, and it seems everyone’s very happy to pitch in with ‘constructive criticism’ but is that enough to put you off doing what you think is best? Absolutely not!
And that’s why this week we’re channelling this great quote from Mark Zuckerberg about taking risk. If you don’t take any chances, you definitely aren’t going to keep up. With a world changing as fast as ours is now, it’s impossible to know all the answers in advance. Sometimes you just have to leap, and keep leaping.
A couple of years back, in a Retailer Advisory Panel meeting for Unilever’s Partners for Growth programme, I sat with this group of incredibly successful independent retailers and wondered about what had led them to take the paths they took. Some had absolutely no past experience of retailing, yet had managed to take the plunge with great success. As a panel they debated whether entrepreneurs were inherently risk-takers, and maybe just the lucky ones at that. But that would be to do them a massive disservice. There were multiple factors to their success but one point they all agreed on was that, while it was important vitally to take risks, you should take steps to minimise your exposure wherever possible. Some of the routes to this include:
- Reading the trade press that’s relevant to you
- Reading the trade press that’s relevant to your customers
- Researching your customers’ needs, wants, information spaces etc.
- Joining relevant trade bodies, and actively participating
- Being honest about your own limitations and goals
- Understanding what your company offers that is different from competitors
There are lots more, but taking steps to keep increasing your knowledge and being brave enough to recognise when you’re at the outer limits of it are key.
On the flipside, we ourselves have also had to make sure we are comfortable with the fact that we don’t have all the answers about how we are going to minimise the risk that is necessary to achieve success, but we have the confidence earned through years of client service to know that we’ll work damn hard to get the job done and overcome any risks.
When Michelle and I were on the train going to our first joint client pitch, we were discussing whether or not we could really do this. Leave the comfort of an agency for the potential of a better way on our own. And while we reflected on this, we saw the above image out of the window and it seemed to say it all – ‘Take courage’.
If you want to take the leap and start opening up communications with existing and new customers, why not drop us a line and we’ll give you some suggestions on where you could start. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Michelle on email@example.com. Or get in touch with us via LinkedIn.