Fortune Favors the Bold
I play dodgeball. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. It’s all in good fun, but we’re a highly competitive lot. In dodgeball, you’ve basically got three strategies for success. Throw, catch, and dodge.
Catching is the riskiest. If you try to catch the ball and you fail, then you’re out.
The thing is, nobody really remembers the great throws or the great dodges. They don’t even remember the times you try to catch the ball and fail (unless you fail spectacularly) … but they do remember the times that you attempt to catch the ball, even when it seems like the silliest decision you could make, and you manage to succeed.
Those are the moments we talk about later, that we recall to our friends and family … those are the moments we get buzzed about.
This isn’t unique to dodgeball.
Any sport rewards bold action … especially when it succeeds. Here’s the thing — at the end of the season, it’s the bold actions — the plays that worked against all odds — that everyone is still talking about … sometimes for years. They hardly ever remember the failures.
Now, I’m not saying the failures aren’t painful. But if you want to have those great moments, the failures are something you have to be at least willing to endure.
All right, so I'm not writing a sports column, even it seems that way so far. There’s a good lesson here for anyone who wants to succeed at anything … including web writing.
And that lesson is that bold, smart risks that pay off are what you will remember … they are what you’ll feel proudest about … they are what will get other people talking … they are what will bring the joy to your business … and they are what will lead to your biggest successes.
What Do I Mean By Bold?
Bold action is big and scary and dramatic. It makes an impression. It may seem a little bit crazy when you first think about it.
Quitting your job to be a freelance web writer is a bold action, so fortunately for you, you are already in familiar territory … or you’re at least considering stepping into that territory.
A bold action isn’t something you would normally do in your daily life. It’s something that makes your palms sweat a little bit. It makes you nervous and excited, like getting ready to jump off a high dive for the first time or making the decision to propose. Whether it’s a big deal or not, bold actions always feel big.
If you want to find big success, you’ve got to embrace bold action. Try these ideas to make boldness a part of your business plan:
Push your comfort zone: As a web writer, I’ll bet you can think of plenty of ways to get outside your comfort zone. Raising your fees is one way. Creating retainer agreements or package deals — a way to insist that your clients take full advantage of the benefits you deliver — is another. Marketing yourself through cold calling or public speaking … Approaching your dream client … Learning a new service … Publishing an e-book. These all can constitute bold actions and make a big splash.
Dream uncomfortably big: So, we all set goals (or we should). You probably set some big goals at the beginning of the year that you shared with your friends and colleagues. Those aren’t the goals or dreams I’m talking about. I’m talking about the impossible dream that you don’t tell anyone about because they’ll give you that look. You know the one — that look that says they aren’t sure if you’re serious or not, that maybe they pity you a little. But look a little closer … there’s also envy in that look. Don’t hide your big dreams.
Get way outside the box: Henry Ford once said that if he’d asked people what they wanted, they’d have said faster horses. Nobody thought the personal computer would catch on. Tupperware struggled for two years before coming up with the party marketing concept that changed the company’s future forever. So, step back from what you’re doing on occasion and try to come up with completely different, totally innovative, slightly wacky ideas … some of those might be what make your fortune.
What Do I Mean By Smart?
Bold action without thought isn’t smart. You want to take bold action that also makes sense. Otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for failure. While that’s always a risk when you go bold, you don’t want to make it a sure thing.
Consider growth: Whatever action you’re considering, think through how it will affect your growth if it succeeds and if it fails. A smart bold strategy is one that can result in big growth if it succeeds, but won’t trigger more than personal embarrassment and a loss of initial investment if it fails. A bold action that could result in driving away your existing clients isn’t a smart risk.
Also think through how you’ll deal with explosive growth if it comes. If you suddenly have clients beating down your door, will you outsource work to other writers or will you make clients wait? Both can be successful strategies — just know what you’re going to do.
Consider negative costs: What will you lose by not taking action? We humans have this knack for getting comfortable. We’ll settle into a client situation that feels safe, knowing that we’re underpaid, but unwilling to risk the sure thing. Whenever you consider taking bold action, consider what it will cost you not to act at all. The answer can tell you if the action you’re considering is smart or not.
Look for leverage: The types of big moves that should get you really excited are the ones that give you a way to leverage your time, your money, or your skills. Hiring a personal assistant may seem like a crazy expense … but it can also lead to you making more money per hour. Writing an e-book might seem like an overwhelming time investment, but if it brings in clients and passive income, it’s worth it.
Taking big, bold actions that make you a little bit nervous is a good thing for your business.
Here are two more tips to help you make the most of your big risks.
Develop unshakable confidence: Failure isn’t permanent. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is watching you and one misstep means you’ll be done in your business forever. That’s just not the case. Remind yourself often of the two following things: You can come back from anything that is not illegal or unethical and you bring a valuable service to the people who hire you.
Practice your craft: Any bold action you take is more likely to succeed if you’ve honed the skills you need to pull it off. So, practice your craft. Read about the trends in your industry. Take programs. Join peer groups. Keep those skills sharp.
Taking big, bold, smart risks is not a guaranteed way to grow your business, but if you want to see explosive growth, it’s all but required. Plus, when you hit the mark … there’s nothing like that feeling. I promise you.
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