As we all often reflect on the long and wandering journey our careers may have taken from inception to current day, I am sure there are numerous milestone moments in which you were challenged to make a decision that might lead you down one path or another.
It’s those moments that can come with some level of risk. It could be the decisive outcome of a major presentation, an auspicious meeting with a notable executive, a sink or swim assignment you must champion, or considering a professional opportunity that could catapult your career forward, as easily as it could set you back. These decisions probably have been notable and frequent, if you have proven to be as much of a risk taker as I have been. I am not referring to foolish risks, but rather calculated risks that you believe can be that career changing moment. The moment you took a chance on your definition of greatness.
I recently took such a risk. After almost 20 years of progressive senior management experiences working for major Fortune 500 companies and marquee global properties, I decided to take the greatest risk … on myself.
A friend/colleague and I identified a business venture we believe we could establish and grow. It was truly exciting to channel two decades of meaningful business experience and knowledge into an endeavor we created from scratch.
It also created a certain level of fear and concern I thought I had left behind in my 20s. Am I ready? Can I do this? Is this the right time? A perfect storm of circumstances led me to a cross roads. I had chosen to venture down a road (entrepreneurialism), I once didn’t believe was possible. After years of reacting to the professional circumstances that were presented to me, I thought it was time to be proactive and take control of my own destiny.
Starting my own business was a risk worth taking. It was the greatest vote of confidence in me. I thought I was ready. Every day represents another success when you’re managing a start-up. It’s been said that 80% of new businesses fail within the first year. We’re determined to be the exception.
The approach to best managing and guiding your career will not be without the challenging questions or occasional risks. There’s no guarantee that your decisions will always workout in the way you hope. Even with that, the reward outweighs the risk. I have three (3) tips for assessing whether you’re truly ready for a career risk.
- First, weigh the pros and cons. Ensure that the upside is worth the risk. A good risk is about making smart decisions.
- Second, commit time. Give the risk every opportunity to succeed. Don’t walk away at the first sign of trouble. As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.
- Lastly, believe in yourself. Half the battle is being positive and believing it could work. Confidence is everything. Know that you can. Whether my start-up venture will lead to a successful foray into small business ownership and management, it has led me down a path that will represent the next phase of a career ready for a big challenge.