If you want to achieve great levels of success you need to be willing to do things differently than the average person. Often, it means having the guts to do scary things, go out on a limb or make an uncomfortable change. If you're having misgivings or anxiety about something you think may--or may not--be good for you, check out the fears which a half dozen successful female founders and executives pushed through. According to them, embracing risk was the best thing they ever did.
I was afraid to move across the country with my boyfriend.
"Embracing risk gave me the freedom I never knew I was missing in my career. A few years ago, when I decided to prioritize my relationship and future as much as my career, and move across the country to be with my significant other, I was terrified. The decision felt impulsive and like a conscious step back professionally. I was leaving New York City, a place that felt like the center of the universe, to start a new journey with a new business in Texas. It didn't help that I had no professional network in my new home state. It turned out that taking the risk and making those major changes opened up a new role for me within Samsung, as well as growth opportunities I hadn't even considered through supporting my boyfriend's small business. Now I'm grateful I took that risk, and I wouldn't want to be doing anything else."
--Abbie Byrom, director of global partner marketing at smart home technology company SmartThings, which was acquired by Samsung in 2014
I was afraid to turn my side-hustle into my full-time job.
"I was born into a family of entrepreneurs, and ironically, being exposed to the reality of entrepreneurship was what made me want to get a corporate job after college. I just wanted to learn business and how to operate in a structured environment. I landed at Goldman Sachs where I was a derivatives trader for almost seven years, and while I loved my time there I also knew it wasn't fully aligned with my passions. I began to build AUrate on the side with my co-founder, Sophie Kahn, who also had a corporate job at Marc Jacobs at the time, and quickly realized it was what I wanted my full-time job to be. I ultimately left the security of my role and took a giant risk in turning our side passion into a career, but I wouldn't do it differently. Our day-to-day in the corporate world helped not only financially but also shaped us as well-rounded founders and operators."
--Bouchra Ezzahraoui, cofounder of AUrate, a fine jewelry brand that donates a book to NYC schools for every piece sold, which has raised over $2.6 million to date
I was afraid of looking back on my life with regret.
"When I was deciding whether to embark on building my company and leaving my current profession, I thought heavily about risk and fear. I saw Jeff Bezos speak at a conference a couple of years ago, and he shared that when he was thinking about starting Amazon but wasn't sure if he should leave his comfortable, safe life, he thought that at the end of his life, he would regret the things he didn't do over the things that he did do. That philosophy served as a major force in my decision-making around Brightland; generally, being comfortable with the uncomfortable, and pushing past fear. I didn't want to look back at my life in 40 years and wonder 'What if I had just taken that leap?'"
--Aishwarya Iyer, founder and CEO of Brightland, a direct-to-consumer company offering hand-sourced extra virgin olive oil handcrafted in California which was recently featured in the New York Times, Cherry Bombe, and more
I was afraid of being responsible for the livelihood of others.
"In the words of Thomas Edison, innovation requires 'starting where the last man left off,' and venturing out past what's been done, which is inherently risky. For me, the hardest part of leading that quest is not so much the risk I take on personally as it is the risk my teammates take on as they fight alongside me to accomplish our mission to solve the world's identity problem. Interestingly enough, I have found that this is the part of my role that also motivates me the most and what makes it all worthwhile. Feeling that responsibility for my team keeps me focused on our vision, and it's those long, make-or-break nights spent together in the war room, and risking it all on the road to building something great together that has given a new meaning to the word family."
--Melanie Shapiro, cofounder and CEO of Token, maker of a biometric identity ring, and a TED 2018 speaker
I was afraid to give up my salary.
"Risk-taking is basically synonymous with entrepreneurship, but stepping away from working for others has been one of the most rewarding decisions of my life both personally and financially. When I was making the decision to move from a full-time position at a great company to become my own boss, I had to weigh the realities of leaving the comforts of salary and a supporting team to go out on my own. The process required a lot of fast learning around business formation, tax structures, etc. and a lot of doubt during the gear-up phase, wondering if I'd made a horrible mistake. But after that initial stage, leads started to come in to work with some of my dream wish list partners like Samsung and Buzzfeed, and the rewards of knowing that I've done it myself have far outweighed the personal risk."
--Alyssa Carroll, founder of Alyssa B. Carroll Communications, a Los-Angeles based Public Relations company which has garnered media attention from CNBC, Forbes, Mashable, and more
I was afraid of offering a new product line.
"Before going down the entrepreneurial path, I sought advice from an array of amazing mentors. From that, one of the best pieces I received was 'if you can get comfortable with the greatest downside a risk has to offer, take the risk!'. Once you realize that the worst-case scenario is something you are willing to accept, all of the sudden you are able to get comfortable with bigger bets. For example, immediately after we launched, our community and customers kept asking us to create swimwear. [Our company] was just two months old, bandwidth was stretched, cash was critical and investing to launch a new category so soon seemed crazy. However, once we acknowledged and accepted that the biggest downside was cost (cost to produce the goods, opportunity cost on time spent, and money lost if not one piece was sold...), we felt the outcome in winning this bet would far outweigh the potential sting if we lost. Thankfully, the risk was worth it, and swimwear is now one of our core categories."
--Michelle Cordeiro Grant, founder and CEO of Lively, a direct-to-consumer lingerie company which has raised over $8.5 million in funding to date