“Take more risks,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said.
I’ve been around business people all my life. And the one thing you notice is that the successful ones take risks.
But not everyone is built for risk taking.
Personally, I hate risks.
I just want to sit in my local cafe and write blog posts and not do anything that could be even remotely stressful.
So why do I end up taking risks anyway?
And has it had a big impact on my business?
Why I wanted to take more risks
I’ll just put it out there.
If you get anxiety you usually don’t want to take risks in life.
But then the flip side of that is that by not taking risks you end up never changing your situation and the anxiety ends up getting worse.
It’s hilariously painful.
Today, however, I just want to talk about risks relating to my business.
The business of blogging.
If you read my article on things to know before you start a blog you might have noticed the bit at the end where I talked about 2014 being the year where I decided to be “prolific not perfect”.
That was my way of telling myself that I needed to try more things, put more articles and ideas out there and not spend so much time polishing the last 1% of my projects because, in truth, that is a total waste of time.
And I was doing it because of nerves.
Sure, my blogs were successful at the start of 2014 but I really wanted to amp it up. I was watching mates like Glen testing out new things and absolutely killing it. They were taking risks while I was kind of plodding along safely.
Well, I wanted a change.
Why taking risks really, really sucks
At the start it is really hard to take risks.
It is a challenge.
And sometimes that challenge sucks.
Yes, things go wrong. Your launch might be a huge failure or the marketing campaign that you’re working on might get no returns. You might lose subscribers or even precious Google rankings.
And that hurts.
But it seems to me that the really sucky part about risk taking is the build up in your mind.
The actual event is never as bad as the worry you attach to it beforehand. (Tweet this quote)
In fact, if you can get past that mental stuff you often find that the “risky” part is often not that bad.
Even better, you start to see it as the fun part.
Why we want to take more calculated, informed and clever risks
I’m not here to tell you to take stupid risks.
If you have a family to support, debts to pay off, etc. then you want to make sure that you are being clever about any risks that you take.
That means getting advice from professionals, weighing up the situation for yourself, and not going in fast with the hope big pay offs.
This is business, not gambling.
On this blog I always try to speak from personal experience. And for me, taking calculated risks with my blog this year has had huge rewards.
Some of the things I’ve tried:
- Launching a new responsive design
Remember the old Blog Tyrant design? It was fixed width and very outdated. But because a lot of people liked it I took way too long to re-design it because I was worried they’d jump ship. Since launching the new responsive blog design I’ve seen subscribers dramatically increase and some ancillary benefits like better Google rankings.
- Backing my SEO strategy
I actually don’t take many risks with my SEO strategy (not like some people out there *cough* Glen *cough*) but with all the fear that’s going around about Penguin and Panda pinging people doing the right thing I just kind of decided to “give up” and back myself. I create great content, do guest posts, and occasionally advertise, and if Google doesn’t like something as white hat as this site then there’s not much I can do about it. I’m not going to waste time disavowing links and stuff like that – I’ll just keep trying to help people with content.
- Asking for help
It might not seem like much of a risk but I have always found it quite difficult to ask colleagues and friends for help with business. Mental health issues? Sure, I’ll talk about it til the cows come home. But business issues always seemed selfish. This year, however, I’ve asked a few people for big things (endorsements, guest posts spots, advice, etc.) and it has really paid off and changed my direction on a few big issues.
- Focusing on one site vs many
When I first got started with blogging I wanted to have many smaller sites and make money that way. Eventually I thought that I could sell those blogs once I was bored of them or wanted to move to something else. But last year I decided that that model was too difficult for more. I didn’t enjoy it and wanted to focus all my energies on the Blog Tyrant brand. So far it has been a great decision – I love my work, I get to (hopefully) help some people and it’s finally getting to the levels I’d like it at. It’s a risky set up but I hope it pays off.
These might not seem like huge risks (it’s not like I’ve invested $1m into anything) but any change to the way a successful business is running is obviously quite significant for the owner.
Let’s hope that they continue to be the right choices.
A final word on how to take more risks
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to calculate your risks.
I really don’t want anyone to go and do something stupid as a result of reading an article on my site. That would be very bad.
Perhaps it’s best to consider this a starting point for the idea of using smart risk taking as a way to improve different aspects of your life?
At the start of this article I used the “It’ll be fun, they said” quote to make it seem like risks are a bad thing. Sometimes that is true, but often in business it’s something that we kind of have to get comfortable with if we want to go to the next level.
It’s still hard, but it is making a difference for me.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s the difference between the profitable blog and the one that flops.
Have you taken any risks?
Are you the kind of person who takes risks in life and business, or do you prefer to make things as safe and stable as possible at all times? I’d be really interested to hear what (if any…) risks the Tyrant Troops have taken so please leave a comment and let me know.