When Was the Last Time You Took A Risk in Business?
When you decided to start your own business that was a risk. It should be your first of many. Especially, as a virtual assistant when your title only implies how you work not the work you actually do. However, most VAs don’t take enough calculated risks and instead gamble or follow someone else’s path.
There is a difference between gambling, taking a risk, and taking a calculated risk. Gambling is about taking an uncertain risk. Risk is the possibility of gaining or losing something of value. Taking a calculated risk means you have taken into consideration the advantages and disadvantages of the decision you are about to make. I’m not a gambler. Not even on a 5 cent slot! I’m also very risk averse. My financial advisors could tell you all about it. When it comes to calculated risks I get excited.
You may believe you are taking calculated risks but if you are only writing down the possible disadvantages, which most people tend to do, you are simply taking a risk. I get excited about calculated risks because I’m forced (when done properly) to also write out all the advantages and then make a more informed, educated decision. Instead of merely trying to think of all that could go wrong, I get to dream and imagine all that could go right.
I arrived in Buenos Aires last week. I love coming back! It reminds of when I first visited in January 2017 and being excited about everything the year had in store. I was going to visit 11 more countries (I actually visited 15 more). It was an extremely intentional decision. A risky decision I made after weighing both the possible disadvantages and advantages. After careful risk consideration, the choice was easy to make and much less scary than I had thought.
Here were my top three risks before I left the country for a year to travel the world in 2017.
Risk #1 – Could I not only afford to travel the world for a year but could I turn a profit? I also had no interest in breaking even.
Leaving for a year didn’t mean I was leaving all my expenses of living in the States behind. This isn’t the case for all those who are digital nomads or location independent. Traveling the world meant I was going to, at the very least, double my expenses. This didn’t include business investment expenses or other unforeseen expenses that could possibly arise.
Disadvantage – The biggest disadvantage was that I was going to have to pull from savings. I wasn’t putting myself in a position to get stranded somewhere in the world or run out of money. This was calculated. While some people feed off only having $10 left in their bank account, I do not. Instead, I worked to not touch my savings as I traveled.
Advantage – To prove my business model true – I can work and work well from anywhere in the world. I was going to walk my talk, have the time of my life, and not have to choose between advancing my business or enjoying traveling.
What actually happened – When I shared what I was about to do people offered to support me financially. WHAT??!!! This was not a dying person’s wish. I couldn’t understand it. At all. It inspired me to do one of the most entrepreneurial things I’ve ever done – set up a campaign for people to donate to my trip. I quickly did some homework and asked what I could do for them or what they wanted in return. Turns out they just wanted to live vicariously through me and I set up a daily blog so they could follow every detail of the journey. There were so many benefits from this it’s hard to know where to start. First, I raised over $17k. I was able to share my experiences and grew so much closer to those who donated. In the process, I had created a hit blog that made me a much better writer which was crucial as I wrote my second book.
Risk #2 – If I stayed what kind of fear, doubt, and isolation would I face knowing I was going to launch a summit, teach my first online class, and write my second book? I knew I would complete my goals but could I enjoy the journey?
Disadvantage – I can’t escape fear, doubt, and isolation simply because I choose to travel. Everywhere I go, there I am. There was the possibility of also being very homesick or my children/family wanting me to come home because they missed me. What if it turned out I didn’t like the city or travel at all? What if my fear of flying or anxiety came back? I’d never done anything like this before.
Advantage – While I didn’t have any guarantees I did choose to travel with a group of like-minded individuals. If I took advantage of what the group had to offer – friendship, professional development, entrepreneurial adventures – I would automatically have more than I had at home. If my fears came back maybe I could talk them over with someone and they wouldn’t seem so bad.
What actually happened – The toll of having three such lofty goals was no joke. I experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows but never alone which was my greatest fear. Whether it was with friends I was traveling with, friends I had met on my journey, or those reading my blog I had support. I had people to celebrate and cry with. Even now, I look back and know that had I not left to travel there would have been so many times fear, doubt, and isolation would have got the best of me. To say I enjoyed the journey would be an understatement. I not only enjoyed the physical journey but the journey of becoming a new person. A better version of myself.
Risk #3 – What if I fell flat on my face and everything I did was a complete failure?
Disadvantage – Each of my goals was a building block on the next so failing at one meant it had a lasting impact on the next and could possibly negatively affect my work. I have a lot of competition but I also had a lot of people watching and following me. Everyone would know if I failed. Failing also would mean a lack of income from my launches.
Advantage – When I thought about the worse case scenario of failing not at one thing but at everything the outcome I kept coming to was that I would have to go out of business and get a job when I returned back to the States. While the thought still makes me cringe I knew that no one could ever take a year of traveling the world away from me. At least if I was going to fail I was going to do it by doing something epic for myself. There are far worse things than working for someone else!
What actually happened? – I had the best year in business ever while having the time of my life. I grew personally and professionally in a way that I didn’t know was possible. I risked a lot. I missed my children and family a lot. The payoff was worth it. Yes, I failed many times and nothing went exactly as I planned. What I learned was that failure can bring pleasant surprises. You can reap benefits from failure and it is never as bad as you think.
Last week I sent out an email to the VAs in my network alerting them of a new pilot course I’m launching on how to book speaking gigs for their clients. Many reached out excited for more information. It’s an amazing opportunity! However, for just as many it’s a big risk.
It’s a risk to spend money or even more money on a class and not know for sure if it will pay off. I know better than anyone that they won’t ever reap rewards if they don’t take a risk. Plus, I’m making it so the risk is calculated and actually costs them less! What is even riskier is doing nothing. Taking action (a risk) creates a reaction of some sort. Taking no action (no risk) means you have zero chance of creating a reaction.
Why am I so passionate about virtual assistants taking risks? Why would I go to extra lengths to make sure it is so beneficial for them that I’m offering extra bonuses? It’s because I’m the virtual assistant for virtual assistants and I care about them. I care about the state of our profession. I care about my clients and their future clients. I care about the impact we as virtual assistants can have on their businesses and lives. I know taking risks, no matter how calculated, can be scary. I’ve never done anything truly by myself. Sure, it was me alone doing the work. However, there were many who provided support, guidance, friendship, laughter, and even a shoulder to cry on when I needed it the most. That’s who I want to be for someone else.
I can’t take the fear out of someone else taking a risk. I can encourage calculated risk-taking which is essential in business.
She has gained international recognition and has been featured in CareerBuilder, The Muse, Spark Hire, Thinkific & Woman’s World.