A lot of people do not take the risk of having their own business or doing what they really want to do. What they are not taking into account is that the risks are the same, except in another form. Playing it safe means building your safe plan on top of the risk you are trying to avoid. And so, you can still fail at playing it safe.
The own business playbook
I have been running my own businesses for more than 18 years now. I lost a few businesses. I had major success in others. I didn’t have regular salary payments over that period of time. I have broken down in tears due to feelings of hopelessness. I discovered crying to be one of the best therapeutic things on earth, I have done this in public once or twice as I did my daily walks. I have laid awake at night not knowing what tomorrow brings. I have had amazing wins where a deal finally comes through after 1 to 3 years of waiting. I have had times where I did not have to work because income was just streaming in and I could focus on my personal development more. I got hit by a recession. I am waiting for the next recession. While on the other hand …
The play safe playbook
This is a good option, nothing wrong with it. Get a degree and a job or just get a job, the latter option I took early in life. You get a regular paycheck. If you don’t get your paycheck, you can walk to accounting and complain and they will sort it out. You know to a great degree of certainty what tomorrow brings. You have a clearly defined corporate ladder you are climbing. You are part of a brand or other big company success and it makes you feel good to be part of something bigger than yourself. I used to love that feeling.
Why you can still fail at playing it safe
An old friend of mine had a very difficult time starting his business. He really struggled for almost 10 years, and I mean really struggle, while his wife would carry the household for him. Finally, his ship came in. I asked him if business was more stable now that he had big success. His answers was simple, “Nope, now we just do it on a much bigger scale.”
I was shocked. But as I built my own businesses and worked as a business coach and mentor in other businesses much bigger than mine, I came to realise that is the case. It is not that entrepreneurs wake up and have a bowl of risk, no, they don’t. (read my other article: Why entrepreneurs don’t like risk) That is the nature of business. In order to make it grow, you must constantly play a bigger game.
You are part of this crazy, risky eco-system
I want to make use of a visualisation to make my point. Imagine layers, the Business layer and the play it Safe layer. All that I described of being an entrepreneur and having my own Business, that is the Business layer. Everything I described playing it Safe, having a job in a company, is the Safe layer. The Safe layer is on top of the Business layer, making the Safe layer just as risky as the Business layer. Like building a house on shaky ground or even clay.
Having my own business, I am in control, I determine my own direction. I am building my own dream. That control is the reason I have my own business. Knowing that I make the decisions that determines my future.
Playing it safe, you are handing control over to someone else to a great extent. Playing it safe means you are building someone else’s dream. Management can rip that career ladder out from under you, it is their decision. You don’t have control. The market may not want what the company you work for makes anymore and it goes under. You don’t have control.
The road ahead, if you are employed
I am not against employment. I want you to start exerting control over your life and start building your dream that a business could give you, even while being employed. Determine if you were to start your business what business it would be and what it should give you – in other words, what do you want in business and in life?
See how your job can help you develop the kind of skills you would need to run your own business. It might mean taking another career track, changing jobs and companies. That way you are skilling yourself up to be that entrepreneur if you ever take that route or that route is given to you when the company folds. Find creative expression in your current job. The creative expression creative that you would get if you were running your own business. You might have to take another career track.
This way you have a certain level of control on the outcome and joy of your life. It also teaches you to make the decisions that lead to you having what you want in life. It might be slower but it will be in the relatively safe environment of a job. A toast! To building and having your dreams!