Dinah reading ‘Change makers and risk takers, this is going to get uncomfortable

All the most successful entrepreneurs are risk-takers and change-makers. They build ideas into businesses, often against the advice of others. Entrepreneurs come up with ways to change people’s buying habits, holiday style and even mindsets. So when they are told that, to minimise the risk of infection by covid-19, they must stay at home, they instinctively get on the defensive.

Being a natural risk-taker is an entrepreneur’s greatest strength and, it turns out, also their greatest weakness. And being told what to do, or more importantly what not to do, sits badly with people who instinctively buck-trends, and the system that creates them. When we are told we must ‘self isolate’ our natural instinct is to get straight online with all our network to ensure we stay connected.

taking risks with the lives of your staff is never acceptable

Sadly, there are those for whom the need to rebel has become a part of their brand-persona. Watching the owner of a chain of sports shops claim they are an essential service to justify wanting to make his staff work during the shutdown is a perfect example of this. Another was the owner of the pub chain who said you were less likely to catch the virus in a pub than anywhere else. Total nonsense, and highly irresponsible (which, of course, is the image he was going for to get attention).

How has risk-taking paid off for you?

There are, however, plenty of opportunities to look at the way you take risks as an entrepreneur and decide how they have paid off for you. You’ll probably have time at the moment to review past projects. Take a look at the risks you chose to make and how they worked out. Are you particularly successful when you choose to take a certain type of risk (going with a gut feeling for example)? Or was it more a case of timing and being in the right place at the right time?

Risk taking is essential to making change and as entrepreneurs. We rely on people embracing change to keep opportunities flowing for our ideas. Learning when a risk is not worth taking is often seen as part of the experience we develop over the many business opportunities we encounter over our working lives. There are many entrepreneurs who have had to build and then re-build their businesses. It is seen as almost a badge of honour, that they came back and re-started. I have learned as much from the un-successful businesses over the past thirty years, as the profitable and successful ones.

As leaders, it’s time to set an example

The risk right now though, is about others. It’s about protecting the vital workers who are keeping the country going. Like those in the health service or those working in supermarkets. These are who we have to do our risk-assessments for. This is a decision we all have to make, to put the greater good above all the rebellious instincts and thoughts we may have. It is time to be True Servant Leaders.

Staying mentally well is going to be a challenge for many solopreneurs and business owners. Many of us have been home based for years, so the key isolation here is the networking. We miss the client meetings and perhaps team events or training that were regularly part of the working week. I urge you to find the online ways to connect, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams (amazing platform for sharing and online meetings of up to 250 people).

The key things I’m doing to stay positive are:

  1. Still have a daily routine.
    This, for me, starts on twitter (DinahLiversidge) and last week I brought back #theBreakfastclub as a way to stay connected during this time. It is 7-8am (UK time) on weekdays and you can search for the # any time to connect with and engage in the chat. It’s all very positive and we’re there to give each other a boost for the day ahead.
  2. Ensure you have an online meet up every day.
    I’ve scheduled a video or conference call with a member of my networks every day. Some are ten minutes, others have been an hour, where we’ve discussed collaborative ways to work together going forward.
  3. Get some vitamin D.
    The winter here in the UK has finally come to an end, and the sunshine makes a huge difference to our mood. If you have a garden space , find and area to set up and write from, or even just to sit and reflect for a while. It will make a huge difference to how you feel.
  4. Keep a diary.
    I started keeping a diary of what I’ve done each day, along with links to things that were shared or that i found, which had a positive impact on the day. This has proved helpful as a way of taking back a bit of control as I am creating a guide for future crisis management this way. I found a gorgeous one on Etsy.

Risk taking may be something we’ve all done to get to where we are, and I’d encourage you to be aware of that more than ever right now. Take the risks that are for the good of others. Like the risk of contacting an old friend and saying hi, even though it’s been so long you feel embarrassed. Or the risk of sending a love letter to someone you’ve been admiring from afar and let them know how you feel. How about the risk of approaching that business owner you admire, asking them to collaborate on a project together. Take the risk of staying home and allowing your business to thrive when nobody expects it to.

From my heart to yours,