The Intersection Of Risk and Courage

“Jack” was a prospective client who seemed unusually anxious as we discussed his plan to leave corporate life to start a consulting firm.

He’d been in consulting before, so he had a pretty clear-eyed view of the difference between that and his present gig. I couldn’t pinpoint the anxiety.

So I asked him: “How long can you survive (i.e. pay your bills) before you land your first paying client?”

“Uh, maybe 30 days if I’m really careful,” was the answer.

Of course I sent him back to his day job—as courageous as his decision was, the risk for an actual disaster was simply untenable (not only for him, but for his young dependent family).

Instead, I suggested he start socking away his paycheck until he had at least six months reserves before even thinking about making a move.

Because here’s the thing.

Running an authority business requires a frequent dose of risk taking.

Positioning yourself in a unique market niche that allows you to charge premium price tags for the value you deliver.

Putting your ideas out into the world where you risk others torpedoing them before they get a chance to catch on.

Stepping up to a truly visible platform—speaking, books, courses—where you can wield significant influence in your space.

And you can’t take those risks if you don’t have a foundation from which to work. Foundation as in assets—cash, client base, expertise, relationships—that will support your confidence in taking calculated risks.

Then you can turn to courage.

Courage to take the right risks.

And the courage to pass on the wrong ones.

Think of it as a risk management exercise.

What if I do X and it fails? What is the worst case scenario? What if I do nothing—how much better/worse will it be than X? What other alternatives haven’t I considered?

And then…

You plot your course and you insert some mile markers (not unlike creating your personal financial plan):

When I have completed three of these kinds of projects, I’ll start talking/writing about and socializing my ideas and point of view with potential clients and referral sources.

When I have discovered ten people that are open to my new idea, I’ll flesh it out a bit and ask them to poke holes in it (sharing helps you tweak and build out the idea so your tribe can sign on).

When I’ve got 20 people talking about it, I’ll develop a _____________ (series of articles, podcast, video, PDF guide, etc.) that I’ll use to spread the word further/faster.

When I feel like I’ve got the makings of a committed tribe that is percolating on my idea (and I have $_________ tucked away), I’ll devote 3-6 months to intensive content, such as developing a course; writing and marketing my book; developing a speaking/workshop presentation.

It can be exhilarating to take a risk that makes you feel vulnerable, anxious even—it proves you’re alive and investing in yourself, your ideas, your business.

Just make sure that if it doesn’t pan out, you won’t be wiped out.

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