For anyone looking to start a new career or a new business, what you want to do and how to do it are not the most difficult decisions in putting your dream in motion. In reality, the most difficult decision is when to begin and the answer generally revolves around one thing…risk.
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For the purpose of this discussion, risk will be defined as the difference between two points that exist in any decision…known and unknown. Most people understand this concept, and even follow the natural extension of the thought that risk mitigation is the process of critical thinking that shrinks the difference between known and unknown.Where many struggle however, is the point in the process where a decision is made on an acceptable level of risk where action can begin. It is human nature to want to drive risk to zero. In reality, nothing will ever happen if you feel compelled to drive risk to zero. The following graphic illustrates the relationship between risk and opportunity:
- Prepare before you begin. For a major undertaking, ensure you are physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially prepared. Any new venture will bring challenges. They’re difficult enough when you’re prepared…they’re likely insurmountable if you’re not.
- Get the facts straight. Numbers, not adjectives, are the basis of a business plan. It’s likely someone is already doing something similar to what you’re considering…you’ll be surprised how willing they are to mentor you if asked. Read books and take classes to expand your knowledge base…you know what you know, but not everything there is to know.
- Build a network. Careers and businesses are about people as much as products. Get involved with folks who can share knowledge, make contacts, provide mentoring, or heaven forbid, even become customers!
- Commit to action in the acceptable range of risk. Many good deals are completely lost by sacrificing acceptable for optimum risk. Strive for the optimum point of risk to begin, but if you’re in danger of losing an opportunity while risk is in the acceptable range…pull the trigger and never look back.
- Plan for success. You probably already know to plan for failure, but you’d be surprised how many ventures ultimately fail because they had no plan to capitalize on their initial success. Ensure you are equally as prepared to build on success as you are prepared to deal with failure. Additionally, when your only contingency is for failure, you are handicapping yourself as humans tend to self-fulfill expectations. Expect to succeed, have a plan for it, and make your self-fulfilling prophecy a positive one.
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