Take smart risks to get ahead in life
I felt compelled to write this blog post because of things I see on social media every day. The want for immediate cash returns without any real effort. The need for instant gratification. The proliferation of people spamming their friends, family and acquaintances with crap that will provide them a small return, with little or no consideration for the people they care about. This behaviour disturbs me.
It happens to me when I accept social media requests to connect with people I don’t know. Without even an introduction or a friendly hello, I am rudely bombarded with their useless crap, some of which is bordering on scam or is an outright scam.
I see these types of posts because of my line of work – researching and promoting legitimate ways for people to make money online.
Sometimes I fear that when people are bombarded with stuff like that, they get wary of even the legitimate opportunities because they have been lied to before, or signed up to something that didn’t end up delivering what it said it would. Sometimes that might involve losing time, sometimes it also involves losing money, and sometimes both.
This post is about how to take smart risks, and what I call ‘positive risk taking’. It is linked to making financial decisions and life decisions in a smart and calculated way to improve your situation. Not about jumping on quick grabs for cash, but really looking at clever options and assessing them to make positive life decisions.
There is risk in everything we do
Whenever you engage in any action where the outcome is uncertain, for any reason, you are taking a risk. You take a small risk when you drive to the store or walk across the street. You take a larger risk when you start a business or invest money. You take a risk whenever you venture into the unknown, where your possibilities and probabilities of outcome cannot be determined to an exact degree. From the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night, you are facing risk to some degree.
The issue is not whether you take risks or not, because we all do. The issue then is how skilled and confident you are in taking the right risks for the right reasons in pursuit of your goals or objectives.
Every time we move forward we are taking a step into the unknown to some degree. People who accomplish great things are usually people of great faith and confidence in themselves and their abilities. The better you become at analysing and assessing risk, and then avoiding as much of the risk as possible, the more capable you will become, and the more successful you will be.
In my view, there are four main types of risks. Some of these are good risks, and some are the risks you want to avoid. Let’s take a look at what these risks are.
1. The risk that is unnecessary
This type of risk is when you take an unnecessary risk without sufficient information or without taking time to think it through carefully in advance. Many of the mistakes we make occur because we act without thinking—that is, action is taken without taking the time to minimise or even fully understand the risks involved.
When it comes to online business, I see this happen to people all of the time. They see something online that looks like it will be the solution to all their problems – it will make them quick money, it won’t require much effort, and they will be living the good life in a very short space of time. The thought of this type of ‘solution’ is very appealing to most people. In some cases, people don’t want to find contrary evidence, only supporting evidence, so they don’t look very hard to find reviews of such products because they want to believe it will be the ‘thing that changes everything’.
This type of risk might involve:
- Purchasing something before you know the full details of what you’re getting
- Making a long term commitment to something without understanding the complete picture
- Signing up to something only to realise the cost is going to be far greater than initially anticipated (up sells such as inability to complete Step 1 without purchasing another product; or that you can’t make commissions until you’ve spent $X yourself, or bought the entire product line)
- Making a smaller financial investment only to realise the amount of time commitment is far greater than advertised, and the work far more complicated
- Investing time or money in something that isn’t as reputable as you first thought
2. The risk that you can afford to take
The second type of risk is the risk that you can afford to take. This could involve sending an email to your email list, calling a new prospect, following up on a lead, and exploring a new opportunity.
In these cases, the cost of failure is very low, while the rewards of success can be very great. Buying an inexpensive product or service, trying out a new online platform for free, and trying a new restaurant are all risks with some uncertainty that you can afford to take because the downside is limited. Perhaps the worst that could happen is that don’t have a great experience and you won’t make the same mistake again.
3. The risk that you cannot afford to take
Risks that you cannot afford to take are those where the consequences of making a mistake would be too great. You cannot afford to bet a great deal of money on speculation of any kind. And when I say ‘great deal of money’, that will mean different things to different people. It may be the money you were going to pay your rent with that you cannot afford to lose, or the money you were going to spend on food for the week. For others, it may be committing all of their resources to a single project and have your entire success or failure hinge on the outcome of that project.
Either way, it is the risk that you cannot afford to take and should therefore avoid, because by the very nature of it being a risk, if it doesn’t go your way, you may not be able to recover from it in a hurry. You may find yourself in financial stress.
Many people make the mistake of putting all their eggs into one basket in the hope of a big payoff. An example is a salesperson working on one very large prospect and not developing a series of smaller prospects. More often than not, the large prospect fails to materialise, and the salesperson is left with nothing and is back to square one.
The notion of spreading risks is important here. No individual or company should be dependent upon one or two people for their financial well-being. One of the best ways to minimise risks is to develop alternatives to what you are currently doing. The more alternatives you have, the lower your risk, and the higher your likelihood of success.
I have written about this before in my post “What is a good side, and why do you need one?“
4. The risk you can’t afford NOT to take
The one might sound odd, but it is the risk that you can’t afford not to take. The downside might be costly, but the up side is so exciting and rewarding that it is worth taking a chance to go after it. An example might be the offer of a new job. Whilst there might be a potential loss of some sort (e.g. you need to travel a bit further to get there), the up side may be so great that the downside becomes less relevant or important – you are happy with the trade off.
Assessing your risks so you take smart risks
Always assess your risks. When it comes to online opportunities, ask yourself:
- What could go wrong in this situation?
- What do I really know about this opportunity?
- Does it sound too good to be true?
- Does it say I will make money on autopilot?
- Do I understand the FULL financial cost of what I’m getting into? Are there up sells? If so, what are they and do they impede my ability to move forward?
- Are there any money back guarantees?
- Do I understand the time requirements?
- Do I have the skills required to do what is being asked of me?
- Will I be committed to this if I proceed?
- Is this an opportunity that I believe in ?
- Is this an opportunity that I would be proud to share with my family and friends?
- Have I done my due diligence with this product or opportunity?
- Are there any reviews of this product that cause me concern?
- Is there a way I get to ‘try before I buy’?
- Be realistic. Whilst it’s fun to dream, those who are successful are realistic. They don’t leave it to luck.
- Have a Plan B. It’s always good to have a back up plan, and other things on the go that take all kinds of variables into consideration.
- Engage in strategic thinking.
- Don’t get caught unprepared.
- Think through the kind of uncertainties that create unacceptable risks—risks you cannot afford to take.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained”
Have you heard the saying “nothing ventured, nothing gained”? When you give in to fear it makes you fearful, while acting boldly makes you courageous. Actions create your beliefs, and beliefs create realities.
When you feel afraid or nervous many people think the right course of action is to do the thing you fear. That is true to the degree that you are only taking smart risks. That means, the risks you can afford to take, and the risks you can’t afford NOT to take.
Many of our fears of taking risks are unfounded. They have no basis in reality. When you test your fears, you find that they don’t even exist.
I took a risk that I could afford to take
When I consider the types of risks I talked about, the risk I took was definitely one I could afford to take.
The risk I took was learning how to create another income stream. I joined a platform that taught me how to create my own websites, and monetise them using affiliate marketing techniques. This was something I’d never thought of in my wildest dreams. But I saw the opportunity, I assessed it, and I made a thoughtful decision.
The platform I joined was Wealthy Affiliate.
When I look back and assess the risk I took by joining Wealthy Affiliate, I realise that the cost of failure was very low, and the rewards of success could be very great. In addition,:
- I knew from the outset what I was getting, and exactly what it would cost
- I knew there were no upsells
- I knew the most major investment would be my own time
- I knew that I would be committed to putting the work in – I knew it would take time and effort
- I was ready for the challenge of learning something new
- I was realistic that I might mistakes along the way, and question what on earth I was doing
The decision has given me:
- A whole new stream of revenue that can be repeated with as many more websites as I care to develop
- A new set of skills that without having to retrain at University, that I could learn in my own spare time
- The confidence that I can achieve new things when I set my mind to it, and the confidence to step out of my comfort zone
- Greater financial independence and flexibility
Take smart risks that you can afford to take
Don’t fall for shiny objects. But do take smart risks. Deploy positive risk taking techniques by assessing risks and taking those risks you can afford to take; and taking those risks you can’t afford not to take.
What are some smart risks you've taken that have paid off? Drop me a line here, or ask a question, and I'm always to help.