Risky Business: What if you had EVERYTHING to lose?

Walt Disney, Colonel Sanders and Reed Hastings are examples of wildly successful business owners who were either bankrupt or had very little when they launched their business.

They had nothing to lose from taking a risk and persevering with their vision.

Early in my career one of my colleagues often said to me “What’s the worst that can happen?” At the time this was very appealing to my single, attachment free life and encouraged my risk taking attitude when making decisions.

Fast forward 20 years and my circumstances are very different. I’m married with 3 children and a substantial mortgage to boot. Added to this is our less common circumstance of living with and caring for my husband’s disabled mother who depends upon us to provide her with support and a suitable roof which accommodates disabled access and functionality.

The answer to the question “What’s the worst the can happen?” when considering a risky venture now poses different thoughts and responses.

What if taking a business risk resulted in not being able to meet the mortgage repayments? Sure, we could sell our house and live elsewhere, but this has complications with catering for accessibility needs for my mother in law.

I acknowledge I’m not the only one who has circumstances preventing or screaming caution from taking business risks. It is not uncommon when considering business opportunities or ventures to be mindful of the negative impacts the leap may have on your family should the venture not be as prosperous as you hoped.

We now are faced with the question: “What if you had EVERYTHING to lose?”

What measures could you take to execute your business idea, or achieve your goal, whilst minimising the potential misfortune of failure?

You could take intelligent risks by:

1. Having a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan Z. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and co- author of the Startup of You with Ben Casnocha, discusses the importance of having three plans.

Plan A is what you are doing right now. Plan B is an overview of the parameters of where you will shift to if you discover Plan A isn’t working. Plan Z is the lifeboat if something goes drastically wrong with Plan A & B. It is designed to give you peace of mind to adopt the risks of Plan A & B.

2. Researching the market, the potential risks and pitfalls of the idea, and considering the existing options available on the market.

3. Utilising your existing networks, or a business mentor, to evolve the idea, considering the possibilities and ensuring the idea has merit. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of an idea and not consider it’s feasibility.

4. Setting a budget for your expenses, asking yourself if you really need to buy that item or incur that expense before spending will encourage creativity and innovative ways of implementing the idea with minimal risk.

If you are passionate about your business idea, understand the risks and make intelligent decisions to mitigate any negative impacts of those risks you have a greater chance of succeeding with your business idea.