Whilst taking risks is a normal part of the entrepreneurial journey, risk taking most definitely isn’t encouraged in the corporate world – at least it wasn’t in my experience.
But sometimes we have to take audacious action in order to catapult our business to the next level. Christina Jones, Emma D’Arcy and I did just this when we launched a high-end Mastermind Group, The Winners Enclosure™ back in December.
The risk when we launch a new product or service or marketing campaign is that we fall flat on our face. That’s just a pride thing that we just have to get over. But what is far worse is when we’ve invested time and energy into a venture that not only bombs, but sets our business back months, if not a year or more. It’s a calculated risk. And for it to work we have to think through all the likely consequences of taking that risk – both intended and unintended – and know exactly how we’re going to deal with each and every one.
First off this article is NOT one of those articles about our system for launching a high-end Mastermind Group. This is a post about how taking calculated risks can help us to make a major breakthrough in our business.
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When Christina, Emma and I decided to launch our Mastermind Group, we took a very calculated risk. This type of launch is very public in nature. If it had flopped, a lot of people would have known about it. And it would have given a field day to our detractors!
When I was weighing up whether I was ‘in’ or not, I knew I would be taking a huge risk. There were a lot of reasons why this launch should have failed. At least on paper.
Why do I say this?
- Emma, Christina and I had never worked together formally so we didn’t know how we would react when the going got tough.
- Mastermind groups are always launched from the stage at a live event. We knew that we couldn’t fill out an event in London, within our designated timescales.
- We had a minimal budget. In fact we didn’t spend a single penny on the launch!
- We were launching over Christmas and the New Year when money is often tight for micro-business owners.
But we had the following on our side.
- We had all run or been part of big promotional campaigns. I ran numerous PR campaigns in my CEO role and in a previous career. Emma when she ran the launch programme for an MBA course at the University of Limerick in Ireland. And Christina when she built a 4,000 strong membership site from a 20K list she built up over an 18 month period.
- We have significant experience and track records that differentiate us from the rest of our respective industries.
- We had built out great relationships with a number of business owners who know, like and trust us.
- We were able to build out a unique offering that we were confident would appeal to our target market.
- We had grit and determination in spades. And an endless supply of tea, hobnobs (Emma) crumpets (me) and spinach smoothies (Christina).
What did we do?
- We looked at who’d run a hard hitting launch campaign without being annoying and overly pushy. And we emulated their strategies. We learnt from the best.
- We talked to everybody we knew about the Mastermind Group.
- We were absolutely clear about who was right for the programme – and who wasn’t.
- We used the online live-streaming channel, Blab in a very intentional way. Blab is very exposing. If you don’t know your stuff, it very quickly becomes apparent. And if you’ve got ‘an edge’ to your personality, this too is very quickly exposed. We got lots of positive feedback about this.
- We wrote the very best copy we could in a series of emails to those who requested a prospectus.
- We tracked what was happening closely, monitoring open rates, who was interacting with us more than usual on social media. We were able to predict with accuracy who would request a prospectus and who wanted to book 1:1s to discuss the group.
- We got our heads down and worked our socks off.
- We didn’t whinge, even when we were bone-tired, grumpy and questioned what we were doing. And when tech gremlins meant we had to re-schedule two key webinars at short notice.
What were the results?
- We filled out our group with an awesome group of women, who meet the criteria we set at the outset for admission. Where are the men?!
- We each gained new 1:1 clients.
- We have a group of people who’d like to work with us in the future and are working on getting the investment together to be able to do so.
- Emma, Christina and I had a BRILLIANT time collaborating together. We all share a similar sense of humour, so whilst this was HARD GRAFT, it never felt like it.
We’re meeting in London this week. You’ll have to wait to find out!
Now to return to my point about taking calculated risks in business. I see so many business owners unintentionally expose themselves and their businesses to HUGE risks. But taking risks is rarely discussed in the small business space.
So how can you take bold action to make 2016 your breakthrough year, whilst mitigating the risks? Here are 4 key lessons from the business world.
1. Think It through Carefully
Consider the pros and the cons. Are the pros more plentiful than the cons? If so, your plan has a fighting chance. Work out what action you need to take to mitigate the risks.
2. Set Goals
These should be SMART goals. Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Results Focused. Time Bound.
3. Anticipate Mistakes
It’s inevitable that we’ll make mistakes so it’s important that we understand this from the outset. Build in a review process so that you can evaluate whether this project is going to plan, and take immediate action to course correct if it isn’t.
4. Determine What You Can Afford To Lose
This is all about taking responsibility for your decision making. Can you afford to lose the money you’ve sunk into the campaign if it doesn’t succeed? Are you okay losing time you (or your team) could have spent on another activity? If the risk is too big, can you break the project down so that you take smaller risks to test the water?
Join the Conversation
Question: Have you taken a big risk in your business? How did you manage this and with what consequences? I love hearing from you. Please let me know in the comments box below.
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I have 25 years’ experience in business, including 8 years as a CEO. I trained at Cranfield School of Management, the UK’s leading business school. With experience in business planning, financial management, risk management, building strategic partnerships, product development, marketing (including PR) plus leading and developing staff teams of up to 150 people, there’s very little I haven’t had to deal with or experienced.
I now run a boutique business consulting and coaching agency, Best Year Ever. If you’re interested in working with me, you can find out more about my business consultancy and coaching practice HERE.
Will 2016 be the year you look back at as the one that transformed your business and took it to the next level?
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