Daniel Wesley founded Quote.com to provide consumers with auto insurance quotes from leading carriers.
Risk-taking is part of every entrepreneur's job description, but venturing into the unknown inherently feels uncomfortable. And the internal struggle between your competing opinions and instincts can leave you in decision-making limbo. In order to effectively manage risk and keep your startup afloat, you have to trust you'll make the right decisions.
This realization hit me at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. I was working a full-time job in the medical field while trying to get my online business off the ground. Sleepless nights--paired with long, stressful days--depleted my energy levels, and my work performance suffered as a result.
After spilling my frustrations to a colleague, he told me the time would come when I would have to choose between my full-time job and my business. To succeed in business, he said, you have to go all-in.
Through his words, I realized I had to trust myself before my business could take off. I could continue to haphazardly pursue both ventures, or I could go full-force in either direction.
I chose my startup and never looked back.
Forging Your Own Path
That experience gave me the confidence to pursue my startup dreams. I knew I had to trust my gut to do what was right for me--and only me. Here's how you can put that same advice into practice:
1. Don't blindly follow others' opinions.
Just because someone has a reputation in your industry doesn't mean he's an expert on your business. If you know your business inside and out, no one can advise the perfect course of action except you.
I've met many people who have claimed to be experts in one area or another. But the knowledge they tried to impart on me fell outside their realm of expertise. If a mentor's advice doesn't feel right for your business, follow your intuition. I've never regretted going with my gut.
2. Lower your risk when making decisions.
You will inevitably have to take risks, no matter what venture you're pursuing. However, you can minimize the potential for catastrophe by taking risks when less is on the line.
For example, make your business self-sustaining before spending more money than your company can afford. The goal is to build worth, not to make your business worthless.
I had to leave the security of a full-time job with a great salary and benefits to chase my own interests in a different field. I took a leap of faith and created my own sense of necessity. After all, necessity is the mother of invention, right?
3. Don't mistake failure for defeat.
With every risk, failure is a possibility. But sometimes an apparent misstep is a success in disguise. In fact, a number of innovations have mistakes to thank, including penicillin, the light bulb and chocolate chip cookies.
Failing is the only way to grow and improve your business. You have to experiment before landing on the right solution. I've invested a lot of money in testing new development methods for my startup. When things didn't pan out, the money was gone and I had nothing to show for it. Most would consider this a failure, but I saw it as a learning opportunity.
Although it was an expensive lesson, I never made the same mistake when working on other business ventures--and that alone made it worth it.
We say that business follows a life cycle for a reason; it mimics the transition from childhood to adulthood. Children navigate the world through trial and error and grow wiser through those experiences. Even the most successful adults face times of doubt, but confidence ultimately pushes them forward.
In the end, trusting yourself is the key to effectively managing risk. No matter the outcome--win or lose--you'll make progress. That can be a hard pill to swallow, but you'll thank yourself for making the tough choices and always following what you know is right.