We Like Growth, But Not Risk

Do you know that old adage, that with risk, comes reward? Unless you’re an adrenaline junkie, nobody likes risk. But as business people, we need reward, and so we must undertake risk.

Whether it’s your own company, or a position you’ve been hired to fulfill, growing revenues is a core task for every CEO. Do you agree with that?

Now, most will agree that there’s safe growth (1-5% per annum), where you’re ahead of the game, but nobody really notices, except the bean-counters. But the shareholders might get impatient.

Or, there’s mediocre growth (of 5-15% per annum), where you get a pat on the shoulder for competent stewardship, but nobody is really wowed by the performance. Investors are usually happy.

But, there’s also explosive growth (15% plus per annum). Now that’s the stuff that gets attention! Shareholders, directors, colleagues, business reporters, and even the competition will take note of that. And isn’t that the space you really want to operate in? Isn’t there a drive, a need-to-speed, a hunger in you to hit this level?

You’ve got the sauce.

You’re a CEO. That means, you’ve got the sauce. You know what it takes and how to get to that level. You’ve taken some risks to get there. You’ve won some, and you’ve lost some. But, overall, you’re winning.

What you’re reading here so far isn’t new. And, no, it isn’t intended to flatter you. It’s the simple truth. To be a business leader, you’ve got to have the sauce, or you don’t get there. True?

But being a CEO entails more than just a focus on revenue. You must manage people too. You have to mitigate the effects of things out of your direct control. Things like natural disasters, economic downturn, regulatory uncertainty, supply chain disruption, and so forth.

If you’re a good delegator, you have VPs and other managers to tackle the daily minutia of these areas. Recruiting good managers allows you to oversee and coordinate their activities from a higher perspective, reassign or redeploy resources where required, and be the face of the organization to both its stakeholders and the public.

Fatigue inhibits risk.

But still, all those distractions, all that other responsibilities, actually impede your desire, will, and energy to take risks. It saps you. It makes you tired. Fatigue inhibits a risk-taking mindset.

You see, taking risks is unpleasant. We don’t like to take risks, even though we must.

So, we compromise. We take the proven path. We water down our efforts. These safer choices are less risky, so we’re more comfortable with them. Consequently, we get in our own way.

Still with me?

Getting out of your own way.

Here’s how to get out of your own way. It’s quite simple, really. Change your perspective on risk. Once you’ve changed your perspective, it doesn’t sound scary, and it doesn’t require as much mental energy. You can alter your perspective in three easy steps.

Step one, acknowledgement.

First, acknowledge that growth comes from your marketing department. Growth doesn’t come from HR, accounting, or operations. Growth comes from marketing. You can build the best damn widget in the world, but if nobody knows about it, you won’t sell very many.

Am I Right?

Step two, listen.

Second, listen to your marketing department. If you’ve chosen well, they’re already good at their jobs. They have one task only, without any of your distractions, and that task is to grow revenue.

Some of their stuff might be scary. Maybe it’s an edgy promotional message that your CMO suggested. Perhaps its a new marketing channel that a consultant recommended, but that you don’t really understand. Recognize that the edginess, or that your lack of full understanding, both represent your risk fear.

With edge, comes the risk of offending. With unexplored mediums, comes the risk of the unknown. Or for both, the risk of a flop.

But you need to change your perspective on these risks. Be an optimist. The glass is half-full. Offending some, means exciting others. A new channel, means new prospects. Heck, even a flop, means you’ve learned what doesn’t work.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? You didn’t go into business to do boring. If that were true, you’d be in public service, not business.

Sometimes it’s hard to be the half-full person. So, how do you embrace this optimism? This leads me to step three.

Step three, trust the approach.

Third, trust that since the time of caveman, the psychology of a buyer remains unchanged. Whatever the new message, whatever the new medium, the brains of prospective customers are the same. They have a need, and you have a solution. All it takes is getting them to know about it, and to trust that your solution will work for them.

You’re going to speak to the prospect in their language, and identify their pain point. You’ll present a solution in a way they can understand, and have them picture themselves using it. Then you give them some proof, either social or technical or both. And finally, you’ll make a push.

Now, if you’re in an industry with a longer sales journey, the push might not be for an immediate sale, but rather a lead magnet, for now. You’ll gather their contact info by giving something useful to them. In exchange, you’ll get their explicit permission to keep in touch with them.

Keeping in touch is your opportunity to stay top-of-mind and to further build trust. You will nurture the relationship, so that when they are ready to buy, you’re the one they think of.

There’s no mystical wu-wu.

This is how marketing has been done for a very long time. There’s no wu-wu to it. It’s formulaic. And it’s always effective.

So, whatever the risk is, now you can have absolute confidence in your approach. Use that confidence to fuel your optimism. Know that regardless of the situation, your sales process will work. There is safety in that knowledge.

Feeling safe about the new growth strategy, emboldens you to tell the marketing department, “Let’s do it.”

Again, if you’ve done your job properly, your marketing department is staffed with employees or freelancers who understand this buyer journey. They get it. Marketers know how to speak to the prospect. They know how to re-engage past customers. Allow them to pursue those campaigns. And do it with confidence.

Have confidence.

To grow, you gotta’ take some risks. I said earlier that nobody likes risk. So, the cure is to convince yourself that it isn’t risky. It’s the same as taking the watered-down course of action. You choose those because you’re convinced they feel safer.

To make a risky decision feel safer, all you need to do is realign your perspective and have confidence that your approach will be the same. Once you’ve done that, it won’t seem so risky, you’ll have gotten out of your own way, and you can easily take that risk and grow your company.

Now, go grow that bottom line! You’ve got the sauce.


What have your experiences been with risk and growth? Are there other risk-allaying tips you can add to this? Please feel free to respond or ask a question in the Leave a Comment section.

Jefferson Vinall is a copywriter specializing in web content for B2B companies.