The Biggest Risk is Not Taking Any Risks

The headline of this article is a direct quote from an interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, when he addressed a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

In it, he noted that some companies move too slow, and a few too fast. The challenge is to find your place in the middle. This is good advice even for mainstream small businesses.

Depending upon the circumstances, you want to move both slow and fast – what is most important is to take action and MOVE!

Whether you are an advocate of Facebook or not, you have to give the man credit for building a business that has transformed how we interact – both personally and professionally.

The following sub-headings are comments shared by Mark Zuckerburg that served to guide the growth of Facebook during the early years.

Focus on Impact – Not Revenue

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs expressed his admiration for the fact that Zuckerburg did not sell out, opting instead to decline the many lucrative offers that would have surely compromised the future value of Facebook.

Zuckerberg and his team had a vision for Facebook, just as you do for your company.

The time for selling your company will one day come, but until then, your challenge is to focus on impact. Isn’t that why you started your business – to make a difference for your customers?

When I started my first business my operations manager and I agreed that if we focused on the customer the money would follow – and it did. When we occasionally lost that focus in favor of increasing revenues, we were often greeted with disappointment.

This is a lesson that every business eventually learns – and it’s usually a hard lesson.

A Company is the Best Vehicle to Align People

My business today consists of me and a virtual admin. Yet, even that structure gives me another voice and opinion against which to weigh decisions.

When you work together in close quarters with others to build a business, you quickly learn how to create alignment.

While it may seem like you are making compromises, you are in fact weighing the wisdom and experience of many. This does not mean you have to agree, just to seek alignment.

In my first business we had over twenty employees – not a lot, but not a little either. When we could not all agree, we always created alignment by agreeing to disagree.

That was one of our mantras. It helped us to focus and get on with serving our customers.

Know What You Want to Do

In working with small businesses as a consultant, I’ve come to learn that most do not have a clear vision of what they want to do.

Some want to change the world. Others want to make a lot of money. And still more want to provide excellent customer service.

Are any of these actionable? If so, where do you start?

You probably already know – with what you are passionate about.

My son is a college student studying for a business degree. He discovered that he enjoys accounting. His sister attends another university where she is focused on and most enjoys marketing.

In which subjects do you think they excel?

It works the same for business.

When work becomes work it’s time to make some changes. This is usually a clue that what you are doing is not what you want to do. So, have the guts to get out.

This is a tough economy, one in which you can love what you do – but still not achieve the income you need to sustain your business.

The solution is very simple. Focus on impact. Re-examine your business model.

This will of course mean taking some risks. And that takes us back to where we started.

Your biggest risk is not taking any risks. What are the risks you know you need to take – even if you are not quite ready?

Leave a comment below or share this with your community with any of the share buttons below – or with those on the little red bar at the bottom of this page.  

Until tomorrow,  Jeff

 Photo Credit: jscreationzs

The Biggest Social Media Risk

We all know the excuses for not using social media – not being very good with technology, not enough time, and not willing to be that visible.

Of course, there are many more reasons why small business are not taking advantage of the opportunities that social media offers them.

What’s the biggest risk with regards to social media?  

For small businesses, it is comfortably blending in with the majority that are not using it.

It’s Time to Get Uncomfortable

Regardless of the types of marketing that you use, if they only elicit a response of approval – then you have failed.

You want attention – and that is not going to happen if you are doing what everyone else is doing.

This is why in my two plus decades as a small business owner I never advertised in the Yellow Pages. Why in the world would I want to be grouped together with my competitors? !

It’s uncomfortable standing out on the proverbial ledge by yourself – but its a great place to get noticed. People notice those that are crazy enough to take risks.  In fact, in our current culture, it is often applauded.

There has never been a better time to use social media, as the risks are measurable and manageable. Those that are accepting them are catapulting businesses into new arenas and expanding their spheres of influence.

Soon enough though, the use of social media will be commonplace and you’ll be able to blend in nicely.

There will be little risk – AND little opportunity.

Make Your Communities Think

In both online and offline social encounters you can seek approval – or you can get others to think differently.

If you can get your communities to think, you will be remembered – and that’s the primary role of marketing.

How can you get your communities to think?

Educate them about something they may not have known – and that is likely to be useful.

Ask good questions – especially those that suggest you understand them and their challenges and opportunities.

Be supportive.  This doesn’t have to be complicated. Just listen and seek to understand.

Offer to help. When you demonstrate you are willing to help you get people to think, simply because it is a quality that is often in short supply.

Be Yourself. When you actively share your interests and passions with others you accomplish a number of things – you remind them to do the same, and you add something original to the conversation.

What are the risks?

Your efforts to educate may not be wanted. Not everyone is ready to take action. But usually a few are, which is one reason why I hang in there and do what I do – such as sharing ideas on this site.

You may ask a question that makes you look stupid. Laugh at yourself and get over it. They’ll probably laugh with you.

When you are supportive and offer to help, you may be asked to take on more than you are capable – whether it is for free or a fee.

This is exactly why it is essential to know yourself and honestly share that. Making tall claims looks and sounds good – until you have to back it up.

What do you think?

Leave a comment below or share this with your community on with any of the share buttons below – or on the little red bar at the bottom of this page.  

Until tomorrow,  Jeff

Photo Credit:  Idea go

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