I get uncomfortable talking about risk-taking — but with a nagging realisation that taking risks is essential to bringing dreams in whatever realm to life.
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Part of my discomfort comes from spending over a decade in a career where prudence is advocated for in every decision. The other part is that as a woman, I am really just wired that way. Nurture and nature, possibly.
At the same time, when I look back on some of the moves I have made, they seem to have been more risky than what I was avoiding — even if at the time they represented the most logical choices.
Therefore, when giving advice on taking risks...for example, how much risk is too much, when to take a risk, etc... I tend to advise them to take fewer risks. And while I do acknowledge that everyone has their own style of evaluating risk, there are some rules that always work.
To jump or not to jump
Say you are contemplating entrepreneurship while employed. Should you chuck it all in and jump into business without a backward glance? This is the eternal question.
Empirical evidence suggests that in as far as you have control over the choice, people who start a business on the side while retaining their day jobs fare 33 per cent better than those who take a sudden plunge. Of course, if you have been laid off or are facing other unavoidable circumstances, this may not be possible.
If the last two scenarios apply to you, and even if not, try out small experiments as part of your research and building process. Don’t put all your money into a venture until you have built some credibility around the idea especially if it’s new and novel. Taking a big risk without some assurance of success may set you farther back from restarting if you have not left yourself a safety net.
Taking risks becomes overwhelming if you decide to change up more than one area of your life simultaneously while bearing all the risk. Starting a family and quitting a job for example can be a bit too much to handle at the same time. Give yourself some room to stabilise one area before you turn around another.