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Confessions of a Professional Gambler

Confessions of a Professional Gambler

July 17, 2014

Business Means Taking Risks

No, I’m not a card shark or a high-stakes poker player. But I am a professional gambler.

It’s true. In fact, I gamble — and help other business owners gamble — almost every day.

Business in and of itself is inherently risky. As soon as you open your doors or launch your website, you’re gambling.  Without taking risks, you can’t grow.

But we’re not talking about hitting the casinos in Vegas or Atlantic City. Instead, it’s all about taking smart, carefully calculated risks.

Growing and Hiring

Many business owners get stuck when it comes to the growth phase. They become frightened by the risks associated with building their businesses. For example, they may be scared to hire the necessary support team even though it’s necessary for growth.  Almost every company needs to hire additional qualified people to get to the next level. To grow, your company needs more sales, but to enable more sales, you need more people, and to hire more people, you need more cash, which comes from more sales, which come from qualified people. It’s a vicious cycle that stops some business owners dead in their tracks. They’re paralyzed by the risk involved — so they do nothing.    

How do you Break the Vicious Cycle?

I’ve done some mountain climbing in my day. Nothing like Kilimanjaro, but I learned a thing or two about managing risk. You see, when you climb a mountain as a team, you are tied together by a rope.  The lead climber puts a clip into the mountain, and you all move up toward the clip. The risk is that if you slip and fall, the clip will ensure that you will fall about seven feet — which is not nearly as serious as the risk of falling hundreds of feet down a mountain if you didn’t have the clip. Like the high-wire act at the circus with a safety net below, this is a mitigated risk.

In business decisions, you want to take mitigated risks. When you own a business and don’t want to commit to hiring someone new at $35,000 per year, you can  take a mitigated risk and hire that same employee for three months, which is only $8,750. This should give you sufficient time to see if the new hire is working out or not. This is a trial rather than a long-term commitment. If it doesn’t work out — and failure is a part of growth — you’ve contained the risk. It’s the same reason many businesses give the newest salespeople the B and C prospects. It’s simply less risky.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Getting out of your comfort zone also means moving people up the Path of Ascension, level by level. Of course, you can’t do this all at once. You need to increase competency little by little. This means peeling off, layer by layer, some of the many tasks you do and assigning them to others on your team.

A great example comes from one of our clients who runs a sign company. This company had the potential to grow very quickly. The leader of the company, however, was the bottleneck. He could spec a job and put together a proposal superbly. But there were many more steps until the job was completed, and he wasn’t teaching others how to handle those tasks.

What we did was determine all of the steps in the process. We identified about 18 different steps, from initial client contact through the sale and installation process. These steps included the work orders, a production schedule, ordering materials and components, graphic art work, assembly, loading signs onto trucks, installation, and so on. We peeled them away from the leader, layer by layer, and trained someone else to do each job. We didn’t just reassign them all to someone else – that would have been a big risk and a major gamble. Instead, we released control in a measured way so each person could progress along their Path of Ascension. This is the BIG SHIFT from you controlling everything to having others in control, which allows you the freedom to focus on areas that are important in your business.  

 

So, Are You Ready to Become a Professional Gambler?

 

What is your risk tolerance? Since different personalities have different risk tolerance levels, it is important to know yourself and to know how to mitigate risks so that they are never too great. As a business owner, it’s your job to be making decisions — even risky decisions — that enable growth and allow you some room to fail.

To start, you want to:

  1. Look at your overall business objectives (e.g. growth)
  2. Look at the steps you need to take (e.g. hiring someone new)
  3. Mitigate the risks (e.g. hiring on a short-term trial basis)
  4. Evaluate your success or failure
  5. Continue gambling by taking mitigated risks  

Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,

Jon